Thursday, March 12, 2009

"The World's Most Influencial Newspaper"

When you think of the New York Times, you probably think one of the largest and most popular and distributed newspapers in the world. Well guess what; you're right. What you probably don't think about is how the Times got to be so big and popular. In 1911, newspaper critic Will Irwin wrote "that the Times came 'the nearest of any newspaper to presenting a truthful picture of life in New York and the world at large.'" This was one of the main reasons the paper became so popular; it presented the news to the public without any "padding" or exposure of "private matters". The Times "advertised itself with the slogan, 'It does not soil the breakfast cloth'", meaning when people read the paper every morning, it wasn't an unpleasant experience for them. They were reading the truth about life in the city and around the world, with no "sugar coating" added to it. Publisher Adolph Ochs "believed that decency meant dollars". It was because of this decency that the Times quickly became one of the most popular and subscribed to newspapers in New York, and eventually the world, and has in turn made it the newspaper "giant" that it is today.

Schudson, Michael. "The New Journalism". p 142-144


At 9:07 PM, Blogger A. Mattson said...

A good post. I think that the "soiling" referred to inks that didn't smudge the table cloth as much as a dig at the less respectable papers.

I don't think that we should get too carried away with this idea that the Times was a factual paper. Yes, it had a greater emphasis on facts and information than the papers that Schudsen is comparing it to, but "The Paper of Record" has it's bias and errors just like any paper then or now.

At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, yes it had its bias and errors then as all papers did, but NO, the slogan was clearly used to differentiate it from the 'indecency' sweeping other popular city papers of the time. This has been confirmed by contemporary sources throughout the historical record, both accounts by Times employees of the time and elsewhere. While it clearly was intended to play off the double meaning of newsprint ink making a mess of hands and tablecloths, there was no doubt at the time what the true intent of the slogan was.


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