COLORFUL JOURNALISM

Colorful Journalism in Fort Wayne is a continuation from an essay written by Herbert G. Bredemeir and presented to Fort Wayne’s Quest Club on January 28, 1966, it was later selected for publication in the Club’s book, “The Quest for Fort Wayne” An Anthology of Papers About Fort Wayne, Indiana: The material provided in Fort Wayne’s early newspapers provoked a flood of orations and addresses, generally political, which were then published as pamphlets by the local press,”at the urgent request of the orator’s enthusiastic audience.”

 

The careers of American newspapermen raise important recurring questions about our public life. In a democratic society, leaders are accustomed to apologize for their weaknesses by explaining that they must be able to “sell” their ideas to the people. The leader, we are often told, cannot run too far ahead if he expects the crowd to follow him. A newspaperman faces this same question even more frequently and more literally. He must “sell” his product every day. If it does not appeal to the public, nobody will pay any attention to him; he cannot continue to be a newspaperman. Yet, if he only gives the public what it wants, if he does not somehow help shape pubic demands, we consider him weak and insignificant, certainly not an important newspaperman. He must be both a mirror of public tastes and a beacon for public desires. The careers of some of our American journalists are certainly excellent examples of democratic leadership. They show us both how far a democratic leader must follow the public and how far he can lead. James Bennett once asked, “What is to prevent a daily newspaper from being made the greatest organ of social life? Books have had their day—theaters have had their day—the temple of religion has had its day. A newspaper can be made to take the lead of all these in the great improvements in human thought and of human civilization. The power of the press is such that a large newspaper can send more souls to heaven, and save more from hell, than all the churches or chapels in New York City, besides making money at the same time.” Clifford B. Ward writing in the News-Sentinel issue of May 27, 1958 said, “Newspapers are unique as institutions because they have two distinct aspects, one professional and the other commercial. In their professional aspect, newspapers find their reason for existence, and in their commercial aspect, they find the financial support without which they cannot exist. The professional aspect is and must be primary, simply because if it is not, the success of a newspaper commercially is not possible. It is a matter of soul and body, and while a soul may live without a body, a body cannot live without a soul. It is that simple.” The same Mr. Ward once said, “Three ingredients are required to make a great newspaper. One is what is known in manufacturing fields as “Know-how”; another is honesty; and the third is courage.” As one reads of the many newspapers that have been in existence in Fort Wayne, some of them must have been lacking in one or more of these ingredients. The father of the Hoosier press was Elihu Stout, who established the Indiana Gazette at Vincennes in the summer of 1804. He had come to Indiana by way of New Jersey, Kentucky and Tennessee. Thirty newspapers were being published in Indiana when a group of interested Fort Wayne citizens in 1883 invited Thomas Tigar and S.V.B. Noel to move from Indianapolis to Fort Wayne and start publishing a Fort Wayne newspaper. Thomas Tigar was born a native of Beverly, Yorkshire, England, in 1807 where he learned the printing business, he moved to the United States in 1826, and prior to living in Indianapolis, he lived in Ashtabula, Ohio. Tigar met S.V.B. Noel, also a printer, and the two men agreed to establish the first newspaper venture in Fort Wayne. To be continued.

The Waynedale News Staff

John Stark

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