Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/342

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Newspapers Since 1860

these laboured energetically, in the face of appalling difficulties, political as well as material, to hasten the revival of the country. Many suspended papers were restored, and many new ones of stability were begun. There were other new ones, also, ephemeral but troublesome, set up to support the carpet-baggers and others who delayed the healing of old sectional wounds. Twenty years passed before the newspapers of the South recovered from the injury wrought by the war.

The war had accustomed publishers to lavish expenditure of money in gathering news and had created many new readers who could not be retained by editorial discussion or heavy style. They had been attracted by lists of killed and wounded, narratives of vivid fact, rather than by discussion ; it was necessary to find a substitute for the absorbing accounts of war. One result of this effort to avert a return to the earlier heaviness, perhaps, was the development of a new journalistic technique, the cultivation of an artistic narrative style. It was Charles A. Dana, through the New York Sun, who set the new pattern that was followed by the American press generally for two decades. His idea was merely to apply the art of literary craftsmanship to the choosing and the telling of the varied stories of the day s events. Human interest, not importance of meaning or consequences, governed the choice of topics. This new style possessed simplicity and clearness; it abounded in details chosen for artistic effectiveness rather than for intrinsic news value. It added grace, without losing force; the deft touch replaced the heavy or awkward stroke. Dana had begun his journalistic career on the New York Tribune under Greeley, where he was managing editor and a most important figure until 1862. He became editor of the Sun early in 1868. What he meant to do, and did, Dana announced thus: "The Sun . . . will study condensation, clearness, point, and will endeavour to present its daily photograph of the whole world s doings in the most luminous and lively manner."

In certain other respects, also, Dana and the Sun were characteristic of the new era. The great majority of papers were still servile party organs; political discussion was as bitter as ever, and nowhere more so than in the Sun; vigorously expressed personalities enlivened the editorial columns. The rancour displayed in the presidential campaign of 1872 was un-