John Swinton (1829–1901) was a Scottish-American journalist, newspaper publisher, and orator. He served as the chief editorial writer of The New York Times. He started a famous American labor newspaper called John Swinton’s Paper, in the 1880s. Reproduced here is part of his speech to a group of fellow newspaper editors at the Twilight Club in the Mills Building, New York City, on April 12, 1883. At the time he was chief of the editorial staff of Charles A. Dana’s New York Sun.
Some Things An Editor Dare Not Discuss
There is no such a thing in America as an independent press, unless it is out in country towns. You are all slaves. You know it, and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to express an honest opinion. If you expressed it, you would know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid $150 for keeping honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for doing similar things.
If I should allow honest opinions to be printed in one issue of my paper, I would be like Othello before twenty-four hours: my occupation would be gone. The man who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the street hunting for another job.
The business of a New York journalist is to distort the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread, or for what is about the same—his salary. You know this, and I know it; and what foolery to be toasting an “Independent Press”!
We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are jumping-jacks. They pull the string and we dance. Our time, our talents, our lives, our possibilities, are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes. – Wikiquote, 22 September 2015
» Contributed by Veteran Major P. M. Ravindran of Raviforjustice Blog.