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Changes which came about in the thirties well-nigh revolutionized the newspapers. Within a decade the cheap newspaper was begun; steam presses were introduced; a radical alteration took place in the idea of news values, reporting, and correspondence; freedom from party control was found possible; and important modifications took place in the party press.

Several of these changes are exemplified in the work of James Gordon Bennett (1794-1872), though he originated few of them. In more than ten years of unsuccessful effort as a political journalist he had become familiar with the increasing enterprise in news-gathering that had already distinguished American methods. He despised the journalism of the day— the seriousness of tone, the phlegmatic dignity, the party affiliations, the sense of responsibility. He believed journalists were fools to think that they could best serve their own purposes by serving the politicians. As Washington correspondent for the New York Enquirer, he wrote vivacious, gossipy prattle, full of insignificant and entertaining detail, to which he added keen characterization and deft allusions. Bennett saw a public who would not buy a serious paper at any price, who had a vast and indiscriminate curiosity better satisfied with gossip than discussion, with sensation rather than fact, who could be reached through their appetites and passions.

The idea which he did much to develop rested on the success of the one-cent press created by the establishment of the New York Sun in 1833. To pay at such a price these papers must have large circulations, sought among the public that had not been accustomed to buy papers, and gained by printing news of the street, shop, and factory. To reach this public Bennett began the New York Herald, a small paper, fresh, sprightly, terse, and ‘newsy.’

‘In journalistic debuts of this kind,’ he wrote, ‘many talk of principle—political principle, party principle—as a sort of steel trap to catch the public. We . . . disdain . . . all principle, as it is called, all party, all politics. Our only guide shall be good, sound, practical common sense, applicable to the business and bosoms of men engaged in every-day life.’

News was but a commodity, the furnishing of which was a business transaction only, which ignored the social responsibility

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