Sunday, September 02, 2012

The Role of the Press: The Best It's Ever Been Defined

In 1852, when the Times of London was accused of trying to usurp the powers of statesmen without assuming their responsibilities, it ran a series of editorials spelling out its position: "The Press lives by disclosures; whatever passes into its keeping becomes a part of the knowledge and the history of our times; it is daily and for ever appealing to the enlightened force of public opinion--anticipating, if possible, the march of events--standing upon the breach between the present and the future, and extending its survey to the horizon of the world." It was the newspaper's purpose to seek out "the earliest and most correct intelligence of the events of the time, and instantly, by disclosing them, to make them the common property of the nation." It was the journalist's job "to investigate truth and to apply it on fixed principles to the affairs of the world."
-- As cited by Alan Hankinson in "Man of Wars: William Howard Russell of The Times"

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