February 10 - All the News That's Fit to Print Day

Posted on February 10, 2018

This is an important time for media, news, journalism, reporters, and newspapers...for several reasons:

(1) In a trend that began in the mid-1900s, more and more people got news from "free" sources such as radio and television, rather than from subscription sources such as newspapers. Revenues for these sources depends on ads - and to some extent, news organizations in those media had to be more careful about not angering powerful people and corporations. 

(2) In a trend that began in the mid-1990s, people have been getting more and more news from the internet, social media, and digital versions of traditional news sources.

(3) The result of this is that fewer and fewer people felt compelled to subscribe to or pay for news sources such as newspapers - why pay when we can get news for free? - and that meant that fewer reporters and journalists were paid to get important information and investigate possible wrong-doing.

(4) Another result of digitization of news is that it takes little money to create quite professional looking/sounding blogs, websites, and podcasts, so many many many people could share their ideas - a good thing! unless it's really propaganda! - and spread information - a good thing! unless it's really MISinformation!

And the result of that is that we now live in a world in which many of our friends, neighbors, and relatives don't even agree on basic facts about politics, economies, governments, or world events. How many times have you heard that Russians deliberately spread propaganda during the 2016 election? How many times have you heard the accusation of "Fake news!"


Let's not forget that, even before radio and TV and the internet, there was misinformation, there were "news" organizations that tried so hard to grab eyeballs that they acted more like entertainment, there was propaganda, there were appeals to emotion, there was sensationalism.

"Yellow journalism" is what folks in the U.S. used to call newspapers that used eye-catching headlines that aren't backed by well-researched, fact-based news from reliable sources. Newspapers that dabbled in yellow journalism would exaggerate stories to create more fear, more excitement, more sadness. They would spend time and effort digging up sex scandals and other "juicy" stories rather than covering the sorts of scandals that were less interesting but probably way more important - like government officials ripping off people.

"Tabloid newspapers" is a term used in the both the U.S. and the U.K. Some tabloids don't bother to come even close to actual news - their pages are full of faked photos and fiction pretending to be fact, like "Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby" or "Dead Rock Stars Return on Ghost Planet." (My two examples are actual tabloid headlines - but absolutely incorrect!)

A man named Adolph Ochs began to use the slogan
All the news that's fit to print" very soon after he gained a controlling interest in The New York Times, in August of 1896. 

Many people think that this slogan way oversteps. It seems to claim that there is no news worth reading other than what appears on its pages. 

However, Ochs was trying to distance his newspaper from the sensationalism of yellow press or tabloids. He was trying to point out that the Times was more reliable, more fact-based, more accurate, than many other newspapers.

"All passengers saved" was the sort of baseless
claim made by many newspapers immediately
after the Titanic disaster. Obviously, lots of people
(around 1,500) died, and this sort of incorrect
headline was cruel to the families of the dead.

I read that The New York Times was one of the
newspapers that had correct information only
in its Titanic coverage, even from the very
In October of 1896, the Times started a contest. Readers were offered a $100 prize for a slogan that represented the Times' reliability even more than the phrase "All the news that's fit to print." Readers came up with a lot of suggestions - and one, judged by newspaper execs, did win the promised prize - but it ended up that the Times didn't ditch the "All the news" slogan in favor of the contest winner.

I guess the publishers, editors, and (I assume) Ochs didn't like even the best suggestion as well as Ochs's slogan.

And that's why, ever since this date in 1897, "All the news that's fit to print" has appeared on the front page (upper left corner) of the Times.

Here are a few of the suggestions:

All the News That Decent People Want

Full of Meat, Clean and Neat

All That's New, True, and Clever

All the News to Instruct and Amuse

The top three finalists that didn't win:

Always Decent; Never Dull

The News of the Day; Not the Rubbish

A Decent Newspaper for Decent People

And the winner:

All the World's News, but Not a School for Scandal

I think I would like the slogan presented with the words "our goal": 

Our goal: 
All the news that's fit to print.

Here's a few other slogans:

The Week Magazine: All you need to know about 
everything that matters

THAT MATTERS" can be seen in teeny tiny print at the bottom
left of the magazine!

New Statesman: Expand your mind; change your world

The Daily Mercury in Mackay, Australia: News you can use

O Globo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: You read, you know

National Post in Canada: The news. You have our word on it.

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