Saturday, May 22, 2004

Sign of the Times

From "The Paper's Papers," by Richard F. Shepard, p. 18: Upon all topics, - Political, Social, Moral and Religious, - we intend that the paper shall speak for itself; and we only ask that it may be judged accordingly. We shall be Conservative, in all cases where we think Conservatism essential to the public good; and we shall be Radical in everything which may seem to us to require radical treatment, and radical reform. We do not believe that everything in society is either exactly right, or exactly wrong; what is good we desire to preserve and improve; what is evil, to exterminate, or reform....We do not mean to write as if we were in a passion, unless that shall really be the case and we shall make it a point to get into a passion as rarely as possible. The source of this eloquent statement of journalistic principles? The first issue of The New-York Daily Times, September 18, 1851. The objectivity of the current incarnation of the Times has been called into question repeatedly over the past few years, and rightly so - could Pinch Sulzberger (who, whenever any eventual TV movie is made about the Jayson Blair scandal, really needs to be played by Vincent D'Onofrio) claim the paper is living up to any part of this manifesto? Would the current New York Times actually deign to suggest that they might espouse conservative thoughts, when beneficial to the public good? Can some of the more easily excited columnists ever be said to not be 'in a passion' over something petty? In Citizen Kane, it took Jed Leland to remind Kane how his megalomania had veered his once-proud newspaper away from its founding statement of principles. I say we look into raising Joseph Cotten as some sort of zombie, and sic'ing him on the editorial board. It's the only way to be sure.

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