Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

The more things change…

Posted on | September 29, 2012 | No Comments

All you need to do in this exercise is replace newspaper or journal with digital or social feed. Check it out and then guess what decade this was published.

“Our newspapers are overwhelmed with material that is of no importance. The obvious remedy for this would be more intelligent direction in the collection of news, and more careful sifting and supervision of it when gathered. It becomes every day more apparent to every manager that such discrimination is more necessary. There is no limit to the various intelligence and gossip that our complex life offers ; no paper is big enough to contain it; no reader has time enough to read it. And the journal must cease to be a sort of waste-basket at the end of a telegraph wire, into which any reporter, telegraph operator, or gossip-monger can dump whatever he pleases. We must get rid of the superstition that value is given to an unimportant ” item ” by sending it a thousand miles over a telegraph wire.”

It’s from an editor’s note in the 19th century San Francisco newspaper, The Argonaut, Jan. 7, 1882. Price 10 cents.

The editor’s note goes on to summon the patron saint of this blog as it makes a time-worn about what works in journalism. And today, whether it’s a blog, a web page or an e-book or e-article, the principal is timeless:

“Perhaps the most striking feature of the American newspaper, especially of the country weekly, is its enormous development of local and neighborhood news. It is of a recent date. Horace Greeley used to advise the country editors to give small space to the general news of the world, but to cultivate assiduously the home field, to glean every possible detail of private life in the circuit of the country, and print it.”

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