Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/345

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327
The Decline of Editorials

and the clear, pungent attractiveness of his style. He soon made the Nation a source of intellectual and political inspiration for that somewhat limited number to whom intellectual journalism could appeal. Best known for the long struggle of the Nation for civil service reform, and for a prolonged and finally successful fight against Tammany, through the Evening Post, of which he became editor in 1881, and for other great combats in which popularity was never considered, Godkin was probably the greatest single force for better government in the thirty years following the war. And although never read by the people generally, he profoundly affected the leaders of thought and of journalism, and through them exerted an influence no less wide, and, certainly no less vital to the health of the finer type of democracy, than that of men whose service to journalism is more frequently mentioned and imitated.

But the strongest tendency of the newspapers was not indicated by the independence of a Bowles or a Godkin, nor by any apparent revival of the idea that editorial discussion was an important function of the newspaper. Successors of the early editorial giants were found in Prentice, Medill, Grady, Rhett, Gay, Young, Halstead, McCullagh, the second Samuel Bowles, Rublee, McKelway, Hemphill, and Watterson, to mention only a few of many; personality continued to make itself felt, as it has done in Henry Watterson, who carried into the new century traits of a journalism fifty years old, in Scripps, Otis, Nelson, Scott, and scores of others; but by the early eighties the name of the editor had become relatively unimportant along with the editorial.

The principal features in journalistic development after the close of the era of Reconstruction were the transformation of the larger papers into great business concerns closely connected with the manifold increase in the amount of advertising printed, the extension and minute organization of news service, the development of variety in subject matter, and the growth of sensationalism in the treatment of news. The tremendous growth of advertising, which by 1890 had become the principal source of income, and which has gained greatly since then, transferred the controlling interest in newspaper policy from the editorial office to the business office, from politics to salesmanship. Circulation was stimulated to furnish an outlet for advertising