Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/217

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
203
DEVELOPMENT OF THE AMERICAN NEWSPAPER.

of journalism having finally established the fact that the chief function of the daily newspaper is to publish the news of the world, the problem of the business is how to obtain the news surely, accurately, and promptly. The ocean cable has taken the place of the sailing vessel, the trained correspondent has succeeded the occasional contributor, the electric telegraph and telephone have entirely superseded the mail in the transmission of domestic news, and every event of human interest throughout the civilized world is placed before millions of readers within a few hours of its actual occurrence.

The collection of news is not restricted by any question of the cost of obtaining it. Fifty years ago it was considered a remarkable feat for one newspaper to obtain information of an important event in advance of competitors. To-day it is a matter of comment if any newspaper fails to publish all the news desired by its readers. If a war is fought on any part of the earth there are reporters on the firing line, and no expense is spared in collecting and transmitting by the quickest method available full reports of any event of world-wide importance. To-day the hiring of special trains, the stringing of a special line of telegraph wire, the charter of a ship, the fitting out of an exploring expedition, or any other great enterprise in the way of collecting information for the newspapers of the United States, is so much a part of the everyday business of journalism that such things are accepted as a matter of course, or cause no more than a passing comment.

Half a century ago the result of a national convention or election was not known all over the country for weeks afterward. In the case of a national convention to-day, telegraph wires lead from the convention hall into the offices of all the newspapers in the larger cities. An operator sits near the platform of the presiding officer, and with a muffled key he sends over the wire a full report of the proceedings, with a description of every incident of interest. At the other end of the line is an operator at a typecasting machine receiving the report and putting it into lines as fast as received. When a candidate for President has been nominated, extra editions of the daily papers are selling on the streets of cities a thousand miles away almost before the applause for the winning man has died out in the convention hall. The people of every city and town in the United States where a newspaper is published would feel themselves cheated of their rights if they failed to receive news of the result of an election by midnight of the day on which the ballots were cast.

In enterprise and originality the journalism of America leads the world at the end of the nineteenth century. As a profession,