I bought a book at a book sale, then promptly filed on its proper shelf in my cluttered little office. I felt I needed to look through this 1946, hardback edition simply called The Newspaper today because I had just read a blog at Global Voices about Kenyan bloggers reacting to the plane that was recently lost, found later in the marshes of Cameroon. The bloggers were looking for answers regarding safety. Safety issues usually involve issues of transparency; that thought brought me to a chapter in The Newspaper called “False News.”
Apparently, in the first half of the 19th century, newspapers in the United States sometimes suffered from a lack of news, so then they just made stuff up: “An unscrupulous newspaper owner, who was always hunting for sensations which on the next day proved to be groundless, was told off by a serious colleague. Was he not ashamed of himself?…’No, in that case I know that I am the only one who prints the sensation.'” One example of this license with the truth was the New York Sun, which in 1835 printed the discovery of human beings on the moon.
There are plenty of sources for news and for truth today, Global Voices’ aggregations of widely unheard voices being one example.
I must add, this search through the old book was a great moment for me becauseÃ‚Â when I went looking for the publication date of the The Newspaper (“A study in the workings of the daily press and its laws” by Ignaz Rothenberg, Dr. Phil of Staples Press, London), I discovered a signature inside the cover of my $1 treasure: “Donald Murray, Boston Herald.” Now the book means even more to me.