Tuesday, September 4, 1956 . . . Page 14
The Newspaper's Role in News
Of Polities-Our Creed
The Times-Union is an independent
Republican newspaper that supports
President Dwight D. Eisenhower and
Vice President Richard Nixon for reelection this year.
That support will be given in this
space. It will not be given in the news
columns. The news columns are reserved
for reporting the news which, of course,
will include news of the national, state
and local campaigns.
Political news stories will be given
the space, the emphasis and the display
which in the judgment of our news
editors they merit as news, without
regard to the editorial policy of this
paper. The news editors will judge
political news-as they judge all other
news-in relation to whatever other
news is available at press time for that
In addition we shall print from time
to time observations and comment by
political writers and columnists. These
will usually appear on this page or the
page opposite, but not always. Names
like Roscoe Drummond, Lyle Wilson,
James Marlow, the Alsops, Peter Edson,
George Sokolsky, Kermit Hill, Paul
Martin and others are sufficiently well
known to our readers to identify them.
Their appearance in full or in part,
or their non-appearance, will result from
an editorial judgment similar to news
judgment on the pertinence and value of
what they have to say on that particular
day, in relation to what others have
These writers and columnists may
not satisfy the appetite of some readers-
on which some columnists thrive-for
insinuation, rumor, innuendo, abuse,
reproof, gossip and chitchat. Each has a
sense of dedication to the truth as he
sees it at the time of writing, which
is why they are chosen as Times-Union
We shall also print the Gallup Poll,
usually on a news page, claiming for it
only that it is the best of the polls,
attempting an honest job, but subject to
whatever errors adhere to this method
of opinion sampling.
This much is said both to go on
record and in the hope of assisting
readers to get the most out of The
Times-Union election coverage.
Reader as News Consumer
What the Times-Union is trying to
do in election news, within human limitations, is what it does all the rest of the
time in chronicling births and deaths,
weddings and bowling scores, fires and
floods, clubs and community enterprises,
public business and private aspirations,
and in commenting editorially upon the
daily grist of news.
No more, no less. It differs only in
that the election's importance as news is
manifestly greater and longer continued
than most of these daily chronicles.
However, we know that election news
reading differs in still another way from
most other news. Readers often are less
ready to accept the objectivity of election
news than of any other kind. We think
we know why, and we invite the reader
to check his own reaction.
A dictionary defines objectivity as
free from prejudice, unbiased. But that
defines ONLY the news editor's mental
attitude in judging the news. It does
NOT apply to the reader.
And here's the rub. A reader has
complete freedom to enter into the consumption of political news with all the
detachment, or all the prejudice, bias
and wishful thinking he has, and particularly with whatever emotional involvement he may have in the campaign.
And since he is a human being, he is
quite likely to find a news story objective
ONLY if he can accept it emotionally.
If he rejects it emotionally he is also
likely to reject the story as unobjective
and. in the end, to deny objectivity to
the news editor in the exercise of an
Example from non-political news:
Last year The Times-Union reported as
news that a group proposed to build a
running race-track near Canandaigua and
to apply for a state license to operate it.
Next morning a Rochester minister
came to this office. He had a Letter to
the Editor roundly denouncing The
Times-Union for, as he described it,
PROMOTING a racetrack at Canandaigua, and he was there to back up his
letter with as many well-chosen words
as necessary to show us the error of
Since at the very moment he appeared
we had in type and ready to be printed
that day an editorial designed to rally
opposition to the track on every basis
conceivable, we were, to put it mildly,
not a little astonished that a straight
news story on a news page should arouse
such reverent ire.
But the minister's reaction was quite
understandable. The racetrack was so
morally repugnant to him that he rejected the news of it emotionally and
was willing to ascribe to the news a
subjective quality that wasn't there.
Emotions-and Calm Judgment
American politics evokes an immense
amount of emotional energy so what
happened in the minister's heart and
mind happens all the time with political
For example: Take the simple statement from San Francisco that President
Eisenhower upon his arrival there looked
ruddy, vigorous, and at history's first
live TV presidential conference was crisp
and sharp. That was the objective observation of all who were there-though
one high-priced commentator deeply
committed to Adlai Stevenson wrote that
the President looked "unbelievably"
better than he had in Washington two
Now the first is a statement as neutral
in tone as it is possible to express in
language. But such is its emotional
impact that reader reaction could, and
did, range the full scale from intense
gratification and uplifted confidence to
expressions such as, "Them guys sure
did get sucked in by them Republican
doctors, didn't they!"
Differing reader reaction stems partly
from honest conviction, partly as a hangover from the era of "personal journalism"-dead now for more than a
generation-and partly from needling by
those who see some political advantage
to be gained by maintaining an uninterrupted, scatter-shot war of nerves against
"the press." At the moment the most
eminent-and ridiculous-practitioner of
this last is Democratic National Chairman Butler.
Political news, like all news, OUGHT
to be read critically. That is the only
way that calm judgment can be substituted for the more visible emotional
energy in forming conclusions about
who should fill the presidency. In
grandeur and majesty this office surpasses any other anywhere that is filled
by popular vote. It calls for the best
judgment that each voter can give to it.
The Times-Union will strive to
present all the facts pertinent to forming
such judgment. It will support the
President and vice president in this
space, the editorial column.
A Member of the Gannett Group
FRANK GANNETT, President
Paul Miller, Editor and Publisher
Don U. Bridge, General Manager
Joseph T. Adams, Business Manager
A. Vernon Croop, Managing Editor
Published by Gannett Co. Inc., at Times Square,
Rochester 14, N.Y.; Frank Gannett, president; Frank E.
Tripp, Douglas C. Townscn, E. R. Davenport and Paul
Miller, vice presidents; Cyril Williams, secretary and
Consolidation March 12, 1918. of The Advertiser (1826)
oldest daily paper west of the Hudson, the Union (1852),
Union and Advertiser (1859). The Evening Times (1887).
Member of The Associated Press.
Subscription rates: By carrier 30 cents a week. By
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LOcust 5600. Circulation Department.
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