Save Your Confederate Money, Boys, Shivers May Run Again! ON JOURNALISM AND THE PEOPLE ‘Comes Word From Upstairs’ \(From remarks by the editor at the Texas Social and Legislative Conference The newspaper business has become big business. Worse, as William Allen White said, it is business and nothing else. The ideals of the journalists are submerged beneath the depraved fixation on advertising profits, the unworthy disposition to tittilate the weaker ele-rients of our human nature for the sake of essentially sensationseeking subscriptions. Only a few of the great newspapers hold out for the whole truth; and, for all I know, even these may be contaminated by the overweening commercialism of our contemporary American society. The journalistic ideal does not really belong to journalism. It is nothing but a dedicatoin to the whole truth and an honest confrontation of its meanings for humanity, a dedication without which no philosopher, no politician, no social scientist has a right to the protection of his profession’s prerogatives. When I look to American journalism for an adequat expression of this human ideal, I am drawn to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, But to reflect on the bright side of the press of America is not wise, for the basic purpose of newspaper management as a whole is profit, not the whole truth, and sometimes not even part of it. Most of the managements of the newspapers of the United States are no more professionally dedicated to the public good, as it will emerge from the free competition of ideas and the full presentation of the facts, than is a manufacturer of bubble gum. They run their papers to sell papers, not to enlighten the community except as it may also be conducive to their primary goal. If a few idealistic journalists who want to tell the whole truth get subordinated to this goal, too bad. The newspapers are left to the newspapermen until the truth begins to hurt, and then comes the word from upstairs .. . The union members of Texas, a large portion of the working people of the State, can turn to no general publication in Texas for fair and adequate reports of trends in their movement. Mexicans and Negroes, the two largest minority groups in Texas, constitute about 30 percent of the populationwell over 2,000,000yet they might as well not exist as far as adequate newspaper coverage of their problems and activities is concerned. Sensational incidents or inescapable changes in the social structure are duly reported, but the social conditions of the minorities seem to be taboo. There is a strike in progress in Port Arthur. This strike was distorted and Port Arthur was smeared in the public mind as Communist during the recent campaign, but no reporter went down to get the objective story to which the people had a right before the election. Not until after the election did the greatest news service , in the world send a reporter to Port Arthur. I think Max Skelton did an excellent story. Thus, the press, until the Skelton story, again reneged on two of the three great responsibilities of journalism: to find the truth, and to tell the truth as you find it. The third responsibility, I believe, is to defend the right as you see it. There are most certainly plenty of honest conservatives in the world, and one would naturally expect them to go into editorial writing. But a few weeks ago I had the quite unstringing experience of talking to a liberal journalist, who still clings to his humane sentiments, but who has been promoted to editorial writer on one of the many conservative dailies in Texas. He said to me, aggressively to cover his shame, “I write what I am told to write.” One should not question a man’s integrity unless he is sure it is nonexistent: for that is the most serious charge of all. But the press of America, and the press of Texas, has ceased to speak with the accents of the people, has adopted the interests and values of big businessmen. Big businessmen are a part of the people, but not a very large part. If the programs of most of the big businessmen of Texas \(with a programs of this Republic, the spirit of Jefferson would be crucified, the hope of working people for a better life would be slandered as communism and crushed as a slavish dedication to security, and our schools and universities would forsake the liberal faith that in the free marketplace of ideas, the best will prevail, in favor of the contemporary American hystericals who “sit on their fannies and yelp” every time anyone mentions anything that is new, radical, or humane. For this is the crime of it all: there is a mighty state, full of muscle and power, full of land and abundance, strong in its heritage and its present. Why should we be infected with childish fears? Why should we jump at shadows instead of turning on the light? Why should we tolerate lies instead of establishing the truth? There is no reason. That is the why of The Texas Observer. Good people of good conscience everywhere in Texas are investing in this newspaper. The hearts of thousands of Texans are caught up in the ideal: A group of people more experienced and enlightened than I are forming into a Board of Trustees. For my part, I promise you I will be true to the liberal tradition. I promise you I will ever be independent of groups, that I may ever be dependent on the welfare of the people I promise you I will never suppress any part of the whole truth. And I promise you that should the paper ever become the organ of a group or an apologist for the illiberal, I shall resign any say why. Our dedication, then, is clear. The people lie fallow, waiting for the seeds of truth. We will trust what they do with it. No true democrat can fear the will of an informed people. Our work is ahead. Let those flatter who fear, it is not an American art. JEFFERSON 54,, Once Peat at This is the first issue of The Texas Observer, an independent liberal weekly newspaper with statewide circulation and a pro-Democratic disposition. We have about 75 stories on our futures hook. For years they have waited to be told. We will have a good time and we hope you do. We will twit the self-important and honor the truly important. We will lay the bark to the dignity of any public man any time we see fit. Telling the whole truth is not an exercise to be limited to children before they reach the age of reason. It is the indispensable requirement for an effective democracy. If the press and the politicians lie to the people, or hide those parts of the truth which trouble the conscience or offend a friend cisions be trusted? Here in the Southwest there is room for a great truthtelling newspaper, its editor free, its editorials cast in a liberal and reasonable frame of mind, its dedication Thoreau’s “The one great rule of composition is to speak the truth.” We are not now that newspaper, and we may never be; all we have is the motto and the will. Perhaps others will join us, and we will have a better Southwestern world for it. We feel that this may be a great adventure, and we hope you are with us. We will not beg you ; we will convince you. Jo enli g hten, Arti ni Su pp reJi The editor and the backers are all of one mind on the principles of this enterprise. The fact that the phrase has been terribly abused by hypocrites does not prevent us from saying proudly that we are dedicated to the people. A fine condition of mutual trust and confidence exists among us all The reader has a right to know, however, how this newspaper will resolve the classic problems of The Group which will surely arise as the months and years go by. The editor runs the paper. Editorial policy is in his hands. Ultimate control of the newspaper is in the hands of the trustees, acting through their directors. If the editor ceases as an independent person to represent the sentiments of the trustees, or if they decide he’s not doing a good job, they fire him; if they instruct him to do something he cannot, he quits. The trustees can of course fire the editor for any reason, but the agreement is that dismissal is the only mechanism of enforcement of the ultimate control. The editor speaks his mind freely on any subject at all times. The group conscience of the newspaper \( that is, a majority of the trustees ment as to whether the editor is following independently a course of fidelity to decent and intelligent policies. This has been the means whereby the group believes we can successfully reconcile editorial freedom with the need for the continuing responsibility of the newspaper to the liberal tradition. The editor assumes “the positive duty to enlighten, not to suppress; to be the advocate of principle, not the protector of doctrine; and to be dedicated to human values, not to arbitrary values of any special interest.” Trustees, who receive no stock earnings, vote all stock, so that the control of the paper may never be captured by stock purchases. We have to survive as a business before we can survive as a morality; but we would rather perish as a business than survive as an immorality. Our business staff will seek advertising, but we will never sell anything but space. We will work hard to get subscriptions, but we will never shade a principle for fear of losing subscribers. The paper is not to be a house organ of any group but is to be independent. Stock will be sold only to individuals. These things needed to be worked out but other things are more important. We must proceed in our single lives to serve the things we think are right. We in this’ venture together are doing only that. If there were any simple way for us to summarize our determination, it would be Paul Holcomb’s rule of life : you can’t always be right, but you can always be honest. Olp Trxas \(0130Pieurr Incorporating The State Observer, combined with the East Texas Democrat Published once a week front Austin, Texas. Delivered postage prepaid $4 per annum. Advertising rates available on request. Extra copies 5c each. Quantity orders available. Entered as second-class matter April 26, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, Texas, under the act of March 3, 1879. HAILING ADDRESS: Drawer F, Capitol Station, Austin, Texas. OFFICE OF PI’BLICATION: 604 W. 24th St., Austin, Texas. Phone: 70746. Ronnie Dugger ckelloo3 Dell Sackett Editor Business Maanger We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of man as the foundation of democracy we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit.
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