OLD Media Moves

When was this written?

November 23, 2005

OK, in what decade was the following written? I am deleting the dates to make it harder. Answer is below.

“Newspaper managements took their cue and enlarged space allotments to finance and business news. Under stress of competition, yet mostly because the readership desired it, the stock and bond tables were expanded. Today they are handled with surprising dispatch (and at considerable cost).

“However, the collapse of 19xx not only disillusioned many thousands from speculating with their savings, but also made antiquated the politico-social philosophy and business ethics which characterized the booming 19xx’s. Moreover, wholly new social and economic problems have arisen.

“Markets in stocks, bonds, and major farm commodities are now under the clamp of federal regulation, and the public is spectacularly not ‘in the market.'”

“The public’s mood is changed, and ever-changing Financial and business editing has not kept pace, and the editorial attitude of today is reminiscent of the rampant bull market of a decade ago. Coverage is still focused on the securities markets, however unconcerned most of the readership may be. The New York Stock Exchange is treated as the fountainhead of all news of the business and financial world.

“What about the public, and the ordinary businessman? Popular treatment is little tried. If industrial and banking economics and inherently complex and above the average person’s comprehension, certainly it is highly presumptuous to give them such emphasis without benefit of elucidation and interpretation.

“There is too much ‘pulse feeling’ in the form of sundry indexes. Week after week these sections are laden with routine reports on excess banking reserves, bank clearings, freight-car loadings, the production of steel, oil, electricity, autos, and so on. Their value as indexes is conceded, but it is the speculator who values them most. How are they as reading matter? Not many heed them, so how can they be deemed of such surpassing importance if few of the public catch their significance, if indeed, they notice them at all?

“An exaggerated importance (as in 19xx) is imputed to the New York Stock Exchange. The news columns are turned over to recapitalization, foreign exchange fluctuations, the mechanics of money and credit, and to legalistic regulations of the SEC.

“This editorial attitude is open to challenge. In the first place, such news is routine and repetitious most of the time. It is technical to the lead reader and lacks popular interest. It is questionable from the broad standpoint of social and public policy. Such narrow scope is not good journalism and as reading matter it is stuffy and unpopular, as xxxxxx’s research has indicated.

“Coverage should envisage the whole panorama of business, industry, and finance – of technology and research; promotion and advertising; retail, wholesale, and foreign trade; problems of management and competition. Anything within the purview of business affairs should be eligible. The editing should be reader-minded and not investor-minded. And when covered it should not be as trade news but as popular reading matter.”

So, what decade was this written?

a.) 1970s.

b.) 2000s

c.) 1930s

d.) 1960s

The answer is:

C. And it was written by Howard Carswell, a business journalist for The Wall Street Journal and some other New York newspapers, in The Public Opinion Quarterly, in 1938.

But change some of the wording, and it could have easily been written in the last four years, don’t you think? What scares me is that it sounds as if the same problems existed in business journalism 70 years ago as exist today.

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