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The Newspaper
by [?]

An Address Delivered Before the Wisconsin State Press Association, at White-Water, Wis., August 11, 1886.

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Press of Wisconsin:

I am sure that when you so kindly invited me to address you to-day, you did not anticipate a lavish display of genius and gestures. I accepted the invitation because it afforded me an opportunity to meet you and to get acquainted with you, and tell you personally that for years I have been a constant reader of your valuable paper and I like it. You are running it just as I like to see a newspaper run.

I need not elaborate upon the wonderful growth of the press in our country, or refer to the great power which journalism wields in the development of the new world. I need not ladle out statistics to show you how the newspaper has encroached upon the field of oratory and how the pale and silent man, while others sleep, compiles the universal history of a day and tells his mighty audience what he thinks about it before he goes to bed.

Of course, this is but the opinion of one man, but who has a better opportunity to judge than he who sits with his finger on the electric pulse of the world, judging the actions of humanity at so much per judge, invariably in advance?

I need not tell you all this, for you certainly know it if you read your paper, and I hope you do. A man ought to read his own paper, even if he cannot endorse all its sentiments.

So necessary has the profession of journalism become to the progress and education of our country, that the matter of establishing schools where young men may be fitted for an active newspaper life, has attracted much attention and discussion. It has been demonstrated that our colleges do not fit a young man to walk at once into the active management of a paper. He should at least know the difference between a vile contemporary and a Gothic scoop.

It is difficult to map out a proper course for the student in a school of journalism, there are so many things connected with the profession which the editor and his staff should know and know hard. The newspaper of to-day is a library. It is an encyclopaedia, a poem, a biography, a history, a prophecy, a directory, a time-table, a romance, a cook book, a guide, a horoscope, an art critic, a political resume, a multum in parvo. It is a sermon, a song, a circus, an obituary, a picnic, a shipwreck, a symphony in solid brevier, a medley of life and death, a grand aggregation of man’s glory and his shame. It is, in short, a bird’s-eye-view of all the magnanimity and meanness, the joys and griefs, the births and deaths, the pride and poverty of the world, and all for two cents–sometimes.

I could tell you some more things that the newspaper of to-day is, if you had time to stay here and your business would not suffer in your absence. Among others it is a long felt want, a nine-column paper in a five-column town, a lying sheet, a feeble effort, a financial problem, a tottering wreck, a political tool and a sheriff’s sale.

If I were to suggest a curriculum for the young man who wished to take a regular course in a school of journalism, preferring that to the actual experience, I would say to him, devote the first two years to meditation and prayer. This will prepare the young editor for the surprise and consequent temptation to profanity which in a few years he may experience when he finds that the name of the Deity in his double-leaded editorial is spelled with a little “g,” and the peroration of the article is locked up between a death notice and the advertisement of a patent moustache coaxer, which is to follow pure reading matter every day in the week and occupy the top of column on Sunday tf.