Sunday, September 24, 2023


       It seems to me that the newspaper reporters of today know very little of the high adventure that bathed the reporters of my time, now nearly thirty years ago.  The journalism of that era was still somewhat wild-cattish: all sorts of mushroom papers sprang up; any man with a second-hand press and a few thousand dollars could start one.  Thus there was a steady shifting of men from paper to paper, and even the most sober journals got infected with the general antinomianism of the craft.  Salaries were low, but nobody seemed to care.  A reporter who showed any sign of opulence was a sort of marvel, and got under suspicion.  The theory was that journalism was an art, and that to artists money was somehow offensive.

      Now all that is past.  A good reporter used to make as much as a bartender or a police sergeant; he now makes as much as the average doctor or lawyer, and probably a great deal more.  His view of the world he lives in has thus changed.  He is no longer a free-lance in human society, thumbing his nose at its dignitaries; he has got a secure lodgment in a definite stratum, and his wife, if he has one, maybe has social ambitions.  The highest sordid aspiration that any reporter had, in my time, was to own two complete suits of clothes.  Today they have dinner-coats and some of them even own plug hats.

-H. L. Mencken, from a 1/10/1027 Baltimore Evening Sun article

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