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Title: Newspaper Writing and Editing

Author: Willard Grosvenor Bleyer

Release date: July 20, 2021 [eBook #65884]

Language: English

Credits: WebRover, MFR, Quentin Campbell and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)

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Transcriber’s Note

The original text contains typical examples of all kinds of newspaper work. These examples are analyzed to show the fundamental principles that underlie their construction. Additionally, they are used to aid the student by giving specific suggestions about their application.

The implications of this are that much of the discussion in the transcription below would make little sense unless these examples are displayed exactly as they appear in the book. To that end, and where an example cannot be exactly rendered in HTML, the original image from the book is used instead.

In all cases where this is done, a transcriber's note is placed immediately below the image. These notes are easily recognised as they are boxed text in a very small font and displayed against the same background colour as this note. They should be skipped by most readers.

They serve two main purposes: (1) to provide the text contained in each image so that it is searchable; (2) to assist readers with visual impairment who rely on screen reading applications for access to online texts.

The cover image was created by Thiers Halliwell and is placed in the public domain.

See the end of this document for details of corrections and other changes.







The Riverside Press Cambridge



The Riverside Press

A. H. B.


Seven years’ experience in trying to train college students in methods of newspaper writing and editing has convinced the author of the need of text-books in journalism. Newspapers themselves supply the student with so miscellaneous a collection of good, bad, and mediocre work that, with an uncritical taste, he does not always discriminate in the character of the models which he selects to imitate. Lectures by experienced editors and writers, although fruitful of much inspiration and general information, seldom give the student sufficiently specific and detailed directions to guide him in his daily work. What he needs is a handbook containing typical examples of all of the kinds of newspaper work that he is likely to be called upon to do during the first years of his newspaper experience. These examples should be carefully selected from well-edited newspapers and should be analyzed to show the fundamental principles that underlie their construction. With such a book illustrative of current practices in newspaper making, he can study more intelligently the newspapers themselves and can assimilate more completely the advice and information given by newspaper men in active service. Furthermore, such a book, by giving specific suggestions with examples of their application, serves as a guide to aid the student in overcoming his difficulties as he does his work from day to day. It is to furnish a handbook and guide of this kind that the present text-book has been prepared.

This book is adapted both for use in college classes in journalism and for study by persons interested in[Pg vi] journalism who are not attending college. The needs of these two groups are not essentially different. Both desire to know the basic principles of newspaper writing and editing and to get the necessary training in the application of these fundamental principles to their own work. In each chapter, accordingly, explanation and exemplification are supplemented by material for practice work.

To formulate a large number of rules for the writing of news stories, the editing of copy, the writing of headlines, and other kinds of newspaper work, is plainly impossible, even if it were desirable. Methods of newspaper making during the last fifty years have undergone so constant and rapid a readjustment to new conditions in the transmission of news, in mechanical production, and in the sources of income, that only a few traditions have remained unchanged. The tireless effort to secure novelty and variety in present-day journalism prevents the news story or the headline from becoming absolutely fixed in form or style. Instead of attempting to formulate dogmatic rules and directions, the author has undertaken to analyze current methods of newspaper work with the purpose of showing the reasons for them and the causes which have produced them. The examples selected to illustrate these methods have been taken from newspapers in all parts of the country and are intended to represent the general practices now prevailing. For obvious reasons names and addresses in most of these stories have been changed. To retain the newspaper form as far as possible, the examples have been printed between rules in column width.

Inasmuch as this book is intended to prepare the student for the kind of work which he is likely to do during the first years of his newspaper experience, it does not consider editorial writing, book-reviewing, or musical[Pg vii] and dramatic criticism. To discuss these subjects adequately would require more space than a handbook on reporting and editing permits.

It is assumed throughout this book that the student of journalism is familiar with the elementary principles of grammar and rhetoric, and has had sufficient training in composition to be able to express ideas in simple, correct English. Faults in such rudimentary matters as grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization are not considered at all. No attention is given to diction or questions of good usage. All these matters are fully treated in numerous books on English composition.

In the discussion of the news story, an emphasis has been given to the “lead” that may seem disproportionate. This has been done in the belief that the rapidity with which newspapers are generally read makes the beginning the most important part of the story. The average reader gleans the significant facts of each piece of news from the headlines and the first paragraphs. He expects in the “lead” the “feature” as well as the gist of the news. To the student this problem of massing skillfully, in a compact and interesting form, the substance of his material, is a new one, and he must be shown all the varied possibilities of this treatment. The author has not been unmindful of the fact that efforts are being made to break away from the “gist-of-the-news” beginning, and has given examples of other forms. For stories in which entertainment rather than information is the purpose, beginnings that do not summarize may undoubtedly be used to advantage. In such stories the student must be shown how to arouse the reader’s interest and curiosity in the first sentences so that he will read further.

The function of the newspaper has been discussed at[Pg viii] some length in order to call the student’s attention to the importance of the newspaper as an influence in a democratic government and to point out the significance of his own work in relation to society. An effort has been made to analyze the problems of newspaper making in order to show the fundamental issues involved. The purpose has been, not to settle these questions dogmatically, but to stimulate the student to think for himself.

“Newspaper English” has so long been regarded by many teachers of English as a term of reproach, and instruction in journalistic writing has been so recently introduced into the college curriculum, that some English instructors still question the value of systematic training of students in newspaper writing as a part of the teaching of English composition. Nevertheless, every teacher of English in the secondary schools and colleges recognizes the fact that one of the most serious weaknesses of present-day training in composition is the lack of a definite aim for the student in his writing, and a corresponding lack of interest on his part in doing work that has no real purpose. To report actual events for publication, either in a local newspaper or in a school paper, gives the student both material and purpose, and to that extent increases his interest and his desire to write well. If the application of the principles of English composition to newspaper writing and editing can be demonstrated to the student, as the author has attempted to do in this book, the student can undoubtedly be given valuable practice in these principles through systematic training in newspaper work.

“Every professor of journalism must write a textbook on journalism in order to justify his claim to his title,” was the facetious remark made at the first Conference of Teachers of Journalism. Until journalism[Pg ix] has been taught in colleges and universities long enough to have developed generally accepted methods of instruction, the text-book produced by every teacher of the subject must be regarded, not as a demonstration of his claims to the title, but as a contribution to the development of methods of teaching based on his own experience. If this book is of assistance to those who aspire to become newspaper workers or to those who are undertaking to train students of journalism, it will have accomplished its purpose.

The author is indebted to the publishers of Collier’s Weekly, of the American Magazine, and of the Independent for permission to reprint material from these magazines. Acknowledgment is also due to the many newspapers throughout the country from which examples have been taken and to which due credit has been given whenever the “stories” thus reproduced have been important or distinctive in character.

The facsimile newspaper headings reproduced in this book represent styles of type used in newspaper offices throughout the country. These specimens are included by courtesy of the Mergenthaler Linotype Company of New York.

University of Wisconsin,
Madison, March 3, 1913.


I.  How a Newspaper is made 1
II.  News and News Values 17
III.  Getting the News 29
IV.  Structure and Style in News Stories 60
V.  News Stories of Unexpected Occurrences 101
VI.  Speeches, Interviews, and Trials 126
VII.  Special Kinds of News 161
VIII.  Follow up and Rewrite Stories 194
IX.  Feature Stories 211
X.  Editing Copy 255
XI.  The Writing of Headlines 271
XII.  Proof-Reading 315
XIII.  Making up the Paper 322
XIV.  The Function of the Newspaper 331
  Index 361




Newspaper Production. To furnish for a cent or two a fairly complete record of important events that take place in any corner of the world, editorial comment, market quotations, reviews of new books, critiques of plays and concerts, fashion hints, cooking recipes, cartoons, and illustrations, as well as advertisements of all kinds, would seem a stupendous, not to say impossible, task if it were not an everyday phenomenon. A single copy of a daily newspaper in a large city contains, exclusive of advertising, from 60,000 to 80,000 words, or as many as does the average novel. These metropolitan papers print from 100,000 to 900,000 copies each day, numbers far in excess of the editions of most successful novels. While it takes the novelist months to produce his work, and his publishers months to print it, the newspaper is made and printed in from one to ten editions within twenty-four hours.

The successful achievement of such an undertaking, day by day, requires extensive equipment and effective organization. The rapid production of a large edition demands many expensive machines to transform written matter quickly into type, and huge presses to print the papers at the highest speed. Furthermore, it makes necessary a large staff to gather and prepare news and[Pg 2] other reading matter, a large force to put this material into type, to print it, and to distribute the papers, besides managers and clerks to carry on the many business transactions involved in so big an enterprise.

Newspaper Organization. Although in its main divisions the organization of newspaper publishing is essentially the same, the size of a paper determines to a considerable extent the number of employees and the degree of division of labor among them, as well as the character and the extent of the equipment. On large papers where many men are employed and many editions are printed daily, there needs must be considerable specialization in editing and reporting; while on small papers the size of the staff requires that each man perform a variety of tasks. Sometimes conditions of ownership or control, and on older papers office traditions, modify the usual duties and authority of different members of the staff.

No one form of organization that can be described in detail, therefore, will apply to all newspaper offices even when they are of the same relative size, but a composite type of organization for large newspapers may be explained to show the division of work.

Newspaper publishing consists of three distinct parts with three entirely different classes of workers: (1) the business management, (2) the mechanical force, (3) the editorial staff.

The Business Management. The business organization, as its name implies, has charge of the commercial side of newspaper publishing. From the financial point of view the purpose of the newspaper is to make enough money to maintain the paper and to pay dividends to the stockholders. The object of the business department is to sell as much advertising space and as many copies of each issue as it possibly can; and, on[Pg 3] the other hand, to pay out for wages and expenses only so much as is necessary to keep the paper up to a standard that will insure a good circulation and enough advertising. In short, a newspaper company, regarded purely in the light of a business enterprise, is not essentially different from any manufacturing company that produces and sells a commodity.

The business department is organized with a business manager at its head, who has complete control of the finances of the paper, subject, of course, to the owner or board of directors of the company. Under him are: (1) the circulation manager, (2) the advertising manager, (3) the cashier. The circulation manager directs the work of subscription canvassers, the drivers and the assistants on the paper’s distributing wagons, the mailing clerks and helpers, and a force of office clerks and bookkeepers. In the advertising department are the advertising solicitors and the office clerks and bookkeepers. The cashier has assistants and a bookkeeper to aid him. The business office of the newspaper is frequently referred to as the “counting room.”

The Mechanical Force. The mechanical side of newspaper making is divided into three relatively distinct departments: (1) the composing room, where, under the direction of a foreman and a copy-cutter, the type is set up by compositors or is cast in linotype or monotype machines by operators, and where the type is arranged by make-up men in pages as it is to appear in print; (2) the stereotyping room, where these pages of type are used to make molds into which lead plates are cast by stereotypers under the direction of the foreman of the room; (3) the press-room, where the papers are printed, in charge of a superintendent with pressmen and machinists as his assistants. Attached to the composing room is the proof-reading department with[Pg 4] a head proof-reader, several assistant readers, and as many copy-holders who read aloud the copy for the proof which is to be corrected.

The Editorial Staff. The writing and editing of a newspaper, with which this book is particularly concerned, is divided into two distinct parts: (1) the gathering, the writing, and the editing of the news; and (2) the interpreting of the news. The two branches are different in the kind of work involved, and are relatively independent in the organization of the office. To present clear, concise, accurate, timely, and interesting reports, or “stories” as they are called, of everything that is going on in the world of sufficient importance to be of interest to any considerable number of readers, is the aim of the news department. The more quickly, the more attractively, the more completely the news can be presented, the greater is considered the success of the newspaper from the point of view of the news staff. The editorials of a newspaper attempt to interpret and to explain the news, or to make the news the basis of argument upon issues growing out of questions of the day. The attitude taken by a newspaper on the questions at issue is determined by what is known as its “editorial policy.”

The editor-in-chief, under whom are one or more editorial writers, has charge of the editorial columns and determines the editorial policy, subject to whatever control of this policy the owner or directors desire to exercise. The editorial writers and the editor-in-chief confer daily to consider the attitude that the paper shall take in its editorials and to divide the work of writing them. Some of the editorials are written by men in other professions who are not on the regular staff, and often by such members of the news staff as the financial editor or the dramatic critic. Most of[Pg 5] the editorials, however, are the work of the editorial writers.

The news staff is in charge of the managing editor, who is usually responsible directly to the owner or the directors. As aids the managing editor has the assistant managing editor, and the news editor, or the night editor, to take charge of “making up” the newspaper The gathering and writing of local news is in charge of the city editor and the night city editor, with an assistant city editor. The news of the state, the nation, and the world, as it comes by mail, telegraph, and telephone, is under the control of the telegraph editor. The city editor directs the reporters; the telegraph editor the correspondents. Particular kinds of news are collected and edited by persons in especially designated positions, such as the sporting editor, the society editor, the financial and market editor, the dramatic and musical editor, the real estate editor, the railroad editor, the marine editor, the labor editor, all of whom usually work under the direction of the managing editor. The special magazine sections of the Saturday or the Sunday issues are in charge of the magazine, or Sunday, editor. An exchange editor goes over all the newspapers received in exchange to clip and edit material worth reprinting. Cartoonists, artists, and photographers supply the materials for newspaper illustrations, or “cuts,” as they are called. A librarian has charge of the reference books and newspaper files, as well as of the collection of biographical sketches and portraits of prominent people known as the “morgue.”

All of the manuscript, or “copy,” is edited and is supplied with headlines at the copy desk in charge of a head copy-reader with a number of copy-readers as assistants. “Rewrite men” are often employed to take the facts of a story from another newspaper and rewrite them, or to[Pg 6] receive material over the telephone from reporters and correspondents and write it up for publication. Unsatisfactory work of a reporter may be turned over to a rewrite man to be put in the desired form, for rewrite men must be able to take the raw material of the news furnished by others and turn it into a well-written news story.

Getting News into Print. The relation of all these departments to one another is best shown by following through the process by which a piece of news gets into print. The telegraph editor on a newspaper in the capital city of the state, for example, gets from an office telegraph operator, a typewritten dispatch signed by the paper’s correspondent in a city of a neighboring state to the effect that the attorney-general has dropped dead in the lobby of a hotel. The telegraph editor at once notifies the city editor so that he may assign reporters to get the local phases of the piece of news, or “to cover the local end of the story,” as the newspaper workers say. One reporter is sent to interview the members of the late attorney-general’s family; another is dispatched to the governor’s office for an interview with the governor on the deceased official; a third is asked to look up the statute concerning such an unexpected vacancy in the office; a fourth is assigned to find out the probable successor to the position.

After informing the city editor and the managing editor, the telegraph editor at once turns over the dispatch to the head copy-reader to have it edited and to have a headline written. Meanwhile one of the rewrite men is delegated to get a biographical sketch of the attorney-general from the office “morgue” and to write an obituary. The artist looks up the half-tone engraving, or “cut,” of the official in the “morgue” and selects an appropriate border or “frame” in which to[Pg 7] put it. The editor-in-chief is informed of the attorney-general’s death so that he may make appropriate editorial comment. Meanwhile the telegraph editor has sent a telegram to the correspondent who furnished the first news of the event instructing him to “wire” five hundred words more giving all the particulars.

When the dispatch has been edited and a headline written by one of the copy-readers, the latter returns it to the head copy-reader, who glances over it and sends it in a pneumatic tube to the composing room. The tube delivers it at the copy-cutter’s desk. The copy-cutter glances at the sheet with the headline for the story, and then at the two pages of copy. The headline he sends by the copy distributor to the headline machine to be set up. The two pages of copy he cuts into three pieces or “takes” so that the story may be set up on three different linotype machines. If the copy of the whole story were given to one machine operator, it would take three times as long to get it into type.

Meanwhile some of the reporters have returned from their assignments. Each one reports what he has found to the city editor, and is told how long a story to write, and possibly what to emphasize in the beginning, or “lead.” As each story is finished it is turned over to the city editor, who glances over it and passes it on to the head copy-reader. Thence it goes through the same course as the first dispatch.

After the copy of the dispatch has been set up in type, it is taken to a small hand press, and several impressions called “galley proofs,” or “proofs,” are printed, or “pulled,” from the type. One of the proofs, with the original copy, goes to the proof-room to be compared with the copy and carefully corrected by the proof-readers. Another proof-sheet is sent to the managing editor, who is responsible for everything that[Pg 8] goes into the paper; a third proof is delivered to the news editor who arranges, or “makes up,” the news stories on each page of the paper before it is printed. After the proof-readers have corrected the proof, and the editors have made any necessary changes in it, the proof-sheets are returned to the operators so that they may make the necessary alterations by resetting whatever is changed. From the type thus corrected a second set of proofs, called the “revise,” is printed and these are distributed to the editors as the first were. The type is then ready to be used in the process of printing the paper.

Half an hour or more before an edition is to be printed, the news editor gathers the proofs of the news stories that are to be put into that edition, and goes to the composing room to arrange this news on the several pages. The importance of the news of the attorney-general’s death would warrant its being given a prominent place on the first page. The most prominent position is the right-hand outside column. If there is no news of greater importance, the news editor directs the “make-up” men in the composing room to put the type of this story in the outside column of the first page “form.” The “form” consists of a “chase,” or steel frame, somewhat larger in inside dimensions than the page as it appears when printed. Into this “chase,” which rests upon a smooth iron-top table, the type is arranged between the brass or lead column rules which make the lines between the columns of type. The advertisements are placed in the forms under the direction of the advertising department just as the news matter is put in under the direction of the news editor, the page and position on the page usually having been stipulated by the advertiser in making a contract for a certain “position” for his “ad.” When each page is filled with[Pg 9] type, the whole page is “locked” in the “form” by a series of screws or wedges (called “quoins”), so that the form may be handled without letting the type drop out. If the type falls out and gets mixed up, it is said to be “pied,” and the mixture is called “pi.”

The forms, after being locked, are taken to the stereotyping room where a paper mold, or matrix, commonly called a “mat,” is made of each page. These matrices, bent in semicircular form, are placed in a casting box into which molten lead is poured to make the semicircular lead plates to be used in printing. In large offices the casting of these plates is done by placing the matrix in an automatic stereotyping machine, known as the autoplate, which turns out completed plates in less than a minute. After the plates have been trimmed and planed on the back to make them exactly the right thickness, they are ready to be put on the press.

These semicircular lead plates, which are thus cast in exact reproduction of the page forms of type, are fastened on the cylinders of the press. As the cylinders revolve, ink rollers touch the surface of the plates and ink the projecting letters. The paper from a large roll, as it passes between the cylinders and the blanket rolls which press the paper against the inked plates on the cylinders, takes up the ink and thus has printed on it the impression of the page of type. Besides printing the pages, the press cuts, folds, and counts the papers so that the complete newspaper comes from the press ready for sale or delivery.

As soon as the newspapers are printed, they are turned over to the circulation department for distribution. Some copies go to the mailing room to be labeled with little orange-colored address slips and to be put into the mail sacks, in which they are taken to the post[Pg 10] office or mail trains. Other copies are sold to waiting newsboys, and still others are taken in the company’s wagon to news stands and carriers all over the city.

Despite the number and variety of these details in the process of newspaper making, the news of the death of the attorney-general would reach the readers in a comparatively short time after the event occurred. In half an hour from the time the last piece of copy is written, a complete newspaper containing it is printed and ready for distribution.

Speed of Production. The invention and the perfection of various mechanical devices used in newspaper making have made possible this great speed. In the front rank of ingenious pieces of machinery that have added greatly to rapidity in newspaper publishing stands the linotype. This machine, which casts solid lines of type, or “slugs” as they are called, has increased four-fold the speed of production and has made possible much larger editions. The monotype, which casts each type separately, has also proved a valuable addition to the means of turning “copy” into type quickly. For the casting of semicircular stereotype plates the autoplate machine is an important time-saving device. The time required for “running off” an edition is now reduced from two- to five-fold by making duplicate sets of these stereotype plates and by putting them on from two to five large presses so that these presses print the same edition simultaneously.

Improvements in newspaper-printing machinery have resulted in huge presses that take paper from large rolls and turn out completed newspapers printed in one or two colors, cut, folded, and counted, ready for distribution. They can be adjusted to print papers from four to forty-eight pages in size, and can produce[Pg 11] twelve-page papers at the rate of 144,000 copies an hour. Magazine sections and “comics” are printed in four colors, usually yellow, red, blue, and black, on large presses under conditions practically the same as those just described.

In order to insert the latest news without taking the time necessary to make up new forms, prepare new matrices, and cast new stereotype plates, a device called the “fudge” is employed. After the first page form of a late edition has been used to make a matrix, about six inches of type is taken out from two columns in the lower left hand corner or the upper right hand corner of the page, and a new matrix and a stereotype plate are made in which this corner is a blank. This new plate with the blank space is then put on the press in place of the regular first page plate. As fast as late news is received, it is set up on linotype lines, or “slugs,” and these lines are clamped on a small cylinder in the press. When the paper runs through the press, these linotype lines on the cylinder are printed, often in red ink, in the space on the front page left unprinted by the blank in the plate. To save more time with this device, a telegraph wire is run to the press room and a linotype machine is installed beside it, so that the latest news can be cast on linotype “slugs” and put on the “fudge” cylinder as fast as the reports are received by telegraph. Results of baseball games, races, and other sporting events can be printed to advantage by means of the “fudge.”

Recently a mailing machine has been introduced that folds, wraps, and addresses each copy separately as fast as papers are fed into it.

In no other process of manufacture that is as complicated as newspaper making, it is safe to say, has equal speed of production been attained.

[Pg 12]

Handling a Big Story. The scene in a metropolitan newspaper office following the receipt of the first news of the “Titanic” disaster, as graphically portrayed by an editor of a New York morning paper, illustrates the conditions under which important news, received late, is hurried into print.[1] The account in part is as follows:

At 1:20 a.m. Monday, April 15, [1912], the cable editor opened an envelope of the Associated Press that had stamped on its face “Bulletin.” This is what he read:

Cape Race, N. F., Sunday night, April 14.—At 10:25 o’clock tonight the White Star Line steamship “Titanic” called “C. Q. D.” to the Marconi station here, and reported having struck an iceberg. The steamer said that immediate assistance was required.

The cable editor looked at his watch. It was 1:20 and lacked just five minutes of the hour when the mail edition goes to press.

“Boy!” he called sharply.

An office boy was at his side in a moment.

“Send this upstairs; tell them the head is to come; double column, and tell the night editor to rip open two columns on the first page for a one-stick dispatch of the ‘Titanic’ striking an iceberg and sinking.”

Every one in the office was astir in a moment and came over to see the cable editor write on a sheet of copy paper the following head [which he indicated was to be set up in this form]:


“Boy!” he called again; but it was not necessary—a boy in a newspaper office knows news the first time he sees it.

“Tell them that’s the head for the ‘Titanic.’”

Then he wrote briefly this telegraphic dispatch, and as he did so he said to another office boy at his side: “Tell the operator to[Pg 13] shut off that story he is taking and get me a clear wire to Montreal.”

This is what he wrote to the Montreal correspondent, probably at work at his desk in a Montreal newspaper office at that hour:

Cape Race says White Star Liner “Titanic” struck iceberg, is sinking and wants immediate assistance. Rush every line you can get. We will hold open for you until 3:30.

“Give that to the operator and find out if we caught the mail on that ‘Titanic’ dispatch,” he said quickly to the boy.

In a moment the boy returned.

“O.K. on both,” he said.

The city editor, who had just put on his coat previous to going away for the night, took it off. The night city editor, at the head of the copy-desk, where all the local copy (as a reporter’s story is called) is read, and the telegraph editor stood together, joined later by the night editor, for the mail edition had left the composing room for the stereotypers and then to the pressroom and from thence to be scattered wherever on the globe newspapers find readers.

The “Titanic” staff was immediately organized, for at that hour most of the staff were still at work. The city editor took the helm.

“Get the papers for April 11—all of them,” he said to the head office boy, “and then send word to the art department to quit everything to make three cuts, which I shall send right down.”

Then to the night city editor: “Get up a story of the vessel itself; some of the stuff they sent us the other day that we did not use, and I ordered it put in the envelope. Play up the mishap at the start. Get up a passenger list story and an obituary of Smith, her commander.”

There was no mention of Smith in the dispatch, but city editors retain such things in their heads for immediate use, and this probably explains in a measure why they hold down their job; also having, it might be added, executive judgment, which is sometimes right.

“Assign somebody to the White Star Line and see what they’ve got.”

The night city editor went back to the circular table where the seven or eight men who read reporters’ copy were gathered.

“Get up as much as you can of the passenger list of the ‘Titanic.’ She is sinking off Newfoundland,” he said briefly to one.

And to another: “Write me a story of the ‘Titanic,’ the new White Star liner, on her maiden trip, telling of her mishap with the ‘New York’ at the start.”

And to another: “Write me a story of Captain E. J. Smith.”

[Pg 14]

Then to a reporter sitting idly about: “Get your hat and coat quick; go down to the White Star Line office and telephone all you can about the ‘Titanic’ sinking off Newfoundland.”

Then to another reporter: “Get the White Star Line on the phone and find out what they’ve got of the sinking of the ‘Titanic.’ Find out who is the executive head in New York; his address and telephone number.”

And in another part of the room the city editor was saying to the office boy: “Get me all the ‘Titanic’ pictures you have and a photo or cut of Captain E. J. Smith.”

Two boys instantly went to work, for the photos of men are kept separate from the photographs of inanimate things. The city editor selected three:

“Tell the art department to make a three-column cut of the ‘Titanic,’ a two-column of the interior, and a two-column of Smith.”

In the mean time the Associated Press bulletins came in briefly.

Paragraph by paragraph the cable editor was sending the story to the composing room. What was going on upstairs every one knew. They were sidetracking everything else, and the copy-cutter in the composing room was sending out the story in “takes,” as they are called, of a single paragraph to each compositor. His blue pencil marked each individual piece of copy with a letter and number, so that when the dozen or so men setting up the story had their work finished, the story might be put together consecutively.

“Tell the operator,” said the cable editor again to the office boy, “to duplicate that dispatch I gave him to our Halifax man. Get his name out of the correspondents’ book.”

“Who wrote that story of the ‘“Carmania” in the Icefield’?” said the night city editor to the copy-reader who “handled” the homecoming of the “Carmania,” which arrived Sunday night and the story of which was already in the mail edition of the paper before him. The copy-reader told him. He called the reporter to his desk.

“Take that story,” said the night city editor, “and give us a column on it. Don’t rewrite the story; add paragraphs here and there to show the vast extent of the icefield. Make it straight copy, so that nothing in that story will have to be reset. You have just thirty minutes to catch the edition. Write it in twenty.”

“Get the passenger lists of the ‘Olympic’ and the ‘Baltic,’” was the assignment given to another reporter, all alert waiting for their names to be called, every man awake at the switch.

In the mean time, the story from the Montreal man was being ticked off; on another wire Halifax was coming to life.

“Men,” said the city editor, “we have just five minutes left to make the city [edition]. Jam it down tight.”

Already the three cuts had been made, the telegraph editor was handling the Montreal story, his assistant the Halifax end, and[Pg 15] the cable editor was still editing the Associated Press bulletins and writing a new head to tell the rest of the story that the additional details brought. The White Star Line man had a list of names of passengers of the “Titanic” and found that they numbered 1300, and that she carried a crew of 860.

In the mean time proofs of all the “Titanic” matter that had been set were coming to the desk of the managing editor, in charge over all, but giving special attention to the editorial matter. All his suggestions went through the city editor, and on down the line, but he himself went from desk to desk overlooking the work.

“Time’s up,” said the city editor; but before he finished, the cable editor cried to the boy: “Let the two-column head stand and tell them to add this head:”

At 12:27 this Morning Blurred Signals by Wireless Told of Women Being Put off in Lifeboats—Three Lines Rushing to Aid of 1300 Imperiled Passengers and Crew of 860 Men.

“Did we catch it?” asked the cable editor of the boy standing at the composing-room tube.

“We did,” he said triumphantly.

“One big pull for the last [edition], men,” said the city editor. “We are going in at 3:20. Let’s beat the town with a complete paper.”

The enthusiasm was catching fire. Throughout the office it was a bedlam of noise—clicking typewriters, clicking telegraph instruments, and telephone bells ringing added to the whistle of the tubes that lead from the city room to the composing room, the pressroom, the stereotype room and the business office, the latter, happily, not in use, but throughout the office men worked; nobody shouted, no one lost his head; men were flushed, but the cool, calm, deliberate way in which the managing editor smoked his cigar helped much to relieve the tension.

“Three-fifteen, men,” said the city editor, admonishingly; “every line must be up by 3:20. Five minutes more.”

The city editor walked rapidly from desk to desk.

“All up,” said the night city editor, “and three minutes to the good.”

At the big table stood the city editor, cable editor, night city editor, and managing editor. They were looking over the completed headline that should tell the story to the world.

“That will hold ’em, I guess,” said the city editor, and the head went upstairs.

The men waited about and talked and smoked. Bulletins came in, but with no important details. Going to press at 3:20 meant a wide circulation. At 4:30 the Associated Press sent “Good-night,” but at that hour the presses had been running uninterruptedly for almost an hour.

[Pg 16]


  1. Find out all that you can about the organization of the paper on which you are employed.
  2. Know the names, at least, of the heads of all the departments.
  3. Learn as much as possible about advertising and subscription rates and methods.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the details of all the mechanical processes connected with newspaper making.
  5. Interest yourself in the welfare of the paper as if it were your own property.

[Pg 17]



Problems of the News. As news is the sine qua non of the newspaper, the problem of newspaper making resolves itself into the three questions: What is news? Where and how is news to be obtained? and, How is news to be presented to the reader? The first question involves the definition of news and the determination of its value, the second concerns the gathering of news, and the third has to do with structure and style in the writing of news.

What is News? Although every good newspaper worker recognizes news at once, and almost instinctively decides upon its value, most of them find it difficult to express in brief form what news is and what determines its value. In a symposium recently conducted by an American magazine,[2] a number of editors throughout the country undertook to define news, giving the following definitions:—

News is whatever your readers want to know about.

Anything that enough people want to read is news, provided it does not violate the canons of good taste and the laws of libel.

News is anything that happens in which people are interested.

News is anything that people will talk about; the more it will excite comment, the greater its value.

News is accurate and timely intelligence of happenings, discoveries, opinions, and matters of any sort which affect or interest the readers.

[Pg 18]

Whatever concerns public welfare, whatever interests or instructs the individual in any of his relations, activities, opinions, properties, or personal conduct, is news.

News is everything that happens, the inspiration of happenings, and the result of such happenings.

News is the essential facts concerning any happening, event, or idea that possesses human interest; that affects or has an influence on human life or happiness.

News is based on people, and is to be gauged entirely on how it interests other people.

News comprises all current activities which are of general human interest, and the best news is that which interests the most readers.

The essentials of news, as brought out by these definitions are: (1) that it must be of interest to the readers; (2) that it includes anything and everything that has any such interest; and, (3) that it must be new, current, timely. Furthermore, these definitions emphasize the fact that the value of news is determined (1) by the number of people that it interests, and (2) by the extent to which it interests them. The composite of these definitions, therefore, would be: News is anything timely that interests a number of people; and the best news is that which has the greatest interest for the greatest number.

By the application of these tests to each event, idea, or activity, the reporter can determine for himself what is news and what is not, as well as what value a piece of news possesses. He must ask himself concerning each piece of news that he gets: “Is it new and timely?” “How many readers will it interest?” “Has it great interest for a large number?”

Many times an incident seems, at first glance, to possess little that will interest, but, on closer examination, reveals some phase that is of considerable news value. Keen observation and insight to see the significant aspect of a person, an event, an idea, often leads[Pg 19] to the discovery of news that may escape the notice of less acute observers. The reporter must find for himself those aspects of the day’s events which are of the greatest interest to the greatest number.

Timeliness in News. Freshness, timeliness, newness is one vital qualification for all news. “Yesterday” has almost ceased to exist for the newspaper man. Even “to-day” has become “this morning,” “this noon,” “this afternoon.” “Up to date” has given way to “up to the minute.” Improved mechanical equipment, which makes possible lightning speed in turning news stories into a complete newspaper in less than half an hour, has made possible a degree of freshness in the news that would seem marvelous were it not a daily, in fact, almost an hourly phenomenon. Competition among newspapers, and the publication of frequent editions, increase the necessity for the latest news. The reporter must catch this spirit of getting the news while it is news, and of getting it into print before it loses its freshness.

What Interests Readers. How general will be the interest in any activity, idea, or event is determined by what the average person likes to hear, read, or see. Whatever gives him pleasure or satisfaction, interests him. Consideration of the fundamental bases of news values, therefore, involves a determination of the general classes of things that give pleasure and satisfaction to the average individual.

The Extraordinary. The unusual, the extraordinary, the curious, wherever found, attracts attention and is interesting because it is a departure from the normal order of life. Humdrum routine whets the appetite for every break in the monotony of regularity. So long as the daily life of the average man conforms to the generally accepted business and social standards[Pg 20] and is not affected by any unusual circumstances, it has little interest for his fellow men. As soon as he violates the usual order, or is the victim of such violation, his departure from the level of conformity becomes a matter of greater or less interest according to the extent of the departure. Because hundreds of thousands of bank employees are honest, the dishonesty of one of them is news. So all crime, as a violation of established law and order, is news, unless, as unfortunately is sometimes the case, it becomes common enough to cease to be unusual. Every notable achievement in any field of activity, because it rises above the level, is news. A record aeroplane flight, an heroic action, the discovery of a new serum, the invention of a labor-saving device, the finding of remains of a buried city, the completion of a great bridge,—all are sufficiently out of the ordinary to attract attention. Accidents and unexpected occurrences, because they break in upon the usual course of events, are matters of news. The thousands of trains that reach their destination safely are as nothing compared to one that jumps the track. Millions of dollars’ worth of property that remains unharmed from day to day does not interest the average man, but the loss of some of it by fire, wind, or flood immediately lifts the part affected out of the mass and gives it interest to hundreds of persons in no way concerned in the loss. It is not the crimes and misfortunes of others that give the reader pleasure; it is the fact that these are departures from the normal course that makes them satisfy his desire for something different from the usual round of life.

In almost every event the good newspaper man can find something that is out of the ordinary, and by giving due emphasis to this unusual phase can give interest to what might otherwise seem commonplace. What that[Pg 21] something will be is determined by the reporter’s or the editor’s appreciation of what will appeal to the average reader as the most marked departure from the customary and the expected. If, as in a recent accident, the front trucks of a trolley car jump the track and upset a baby carriage, throwing out the baby; and if the baby alights unharmed on a pillow that was tossed out of the carriage by the collision, such peculiar circumstances the reporter knows will appeal to most readers as the interesting feature of the accident. That a sneak thief should be caught as he was escaping from a house with a few dollars’ worth of plunder, will attract the average reader much less than the fact that he jumped through a plate-glass window in his effort to escape, or that he gained access to the house by wearing a Salvation Army uniform, or that he carried away a pie as part of his booty. How a man lost a purse containing $50 is scarcely worthy of notice, but how, while looking for his purse, he found a diamond ring, is strange enough to make good reading. A lecture at an agricultural society meeting on the advantages to the farmers of the state of raising barley would not ordinarily be considered of much interest to city readers, but an interruption of the lecture by an advocate of prohibition with the charge that to urge barley growing is to aid the brewing interests, might make a good news story. The character and the extent of the departure from the usual, considered from the point of view of most of the readers, measure the news value of any phase of an event that is out of the ordinary.

Struggles for Supremacy. Struggles for supremacy, also, have an almost universal appeal. Competition in business, contest in sport, rivalry in politics, are based on the love of fighting to win. Strikes and lockouts, as part of the contest between labor and capital,[Pg 22] appeal to this interest. So does the fight to secure control or monopoly in any part of the commercial field. The enthusiasm manifested over baseball, football, boxing, racing, and other sports grows out of the love of contest for supremacy. In political warfare the interest of many is largely in the struggle for victory, with the power that victory brings, rather than any results that will affect the individual directly. Accounts of all these forms of fighting to win make good news stories.

“Human Interest.” The fellow feeling that makes all the world akin, the sympathy that binds together men who have little in common, is the basis of interest which we have in the actions, thoughts, and feelings of others. The “human interest” which newspaper and magazine editors demand, involves emphasis on the personal element in the affairs of life. The characters that appear in news stories, fiction, or special articles must be made to appeal to the readers as real flesh and blood men and women. The human side of events is what the average reader wants. How one man is saved by a new serum is read with more attention than is a discussion of the therapeutic value of the serum. The privations of an arctic explorer in reaching the pole have almost as much interest for most readers as the discovery of the pole itself. The experiences of strikers and their families are read by many who know little and care less about the economic conditions that produce the strike. So vitally do we feel ourselves concerned with the fate of our fellow men, even when we do not know them personally, that accounts of human life lost or endangered are read with great eagerness. “Many lives lost!” is the cry that the newsboy knows will sell the most papers. From the point of view of the newspaper the greater the number of lives thus involved in the event, the better is the news.

[Pg 23]

The Appeal of Children. The unusual appeal that children make gives news of their activities especial value. Whenever a little child plays a part in an event, it is pretty sure to be the best feature of the story. The letter which a small girl writes to the mayor asking that her pet dog be restored to her from the dog pound, will take a place in the day’s news beside the interview with the mayor outlining his policies of city government for the following two years. A child witness holds the attention of the entire court room and is “featured” in the story of a trial, partly, no doubt, because the appearance of a child in these circumstances is unusual, but largely because of our interest in children. Just as a child’s plea to a judge saves its worthless father or drunken mother from a prison sentence, so the story of that plea will move every reader. Anecdotes and sayings of children readily find a place in newspapers and magazines.

Interest in Animals. The popular interest in animals, wild or tame, in captivity or at large, makes news stories about them good reading. Whether we are attracted by the almost human intelligence that animals often display, or by their distinctly animal traits, we read of their doings with keen interest. Anecdotes of animal pets if well told are always readable. The fascination which the “zoo” or the circus menagerie has for most people is akin to the pleasure given by anecdotes of animals in captivity. Every city editor knows the value of the zoölogical garden as a source of effective stories when other fields fail. Wild animals at large, particularly when they come into any relation with men, afford good material for the reporter or correspondent.

Amusements and Hobbies. The favorite pleasures and amusements of readers form another large[Pg 24] group of activities that must be considered in measuring the value of news. Besides the contest element in sports that interests the spectator, there is the attraction of athletics for the players. Golf, tennis, automobiling, and similar activities furnish news that is read by those who engage in these diversions. Accounts of the theatre, of concerts, and of all forms of amusements are read by the thousands who patronize these entertainments. Pastimes and hobbies, such as amateur photography, book-collecting, fishing and hunting, canoeing and sailing, whist and chess, have enough devotees to give value to news of such avocations. Here again the number of readers to whom such news appeals determines the space and the prominence that it is worth.

Degree of Readers’ Interest. Persons, places, or things that go to make up news excite a degree of interest proportional to (1) the reader’s familiarity with them, (2) their own importance and prominence, (3) the closeness of their relation to the reader’s personal affairs.

Local Interest. Local events interest readers because they know the places and often the persons concerned. Local news, accordingly, takes precedence over news from elsewhere of equal or greater importance as measured by the general standards of news value. Interest in most news stories may be said to vary inversely in proportion to the distance between the place of the event described and the place where the paper is published. Just as the splash is greatest where a stone strikes the water, the ripples growing less and less marked as the force of the shock spreads out over the pond, so the impression made by an occurrence grows less and less the farther one goes from the scene of action. We read more eagerly the account of a small fire in a building that we pass every day than the dispatch telling of a fire that wiped out a whole town two[Pg 25] thousand miles away. The arrest of a man for speeding his automobile will cause more comment among his friends than the capture of a gang of automobile bandits that has terrorized another city. Local phases, or “local ends,” as they are called, of events that take place some distance away quite overshadow in interest more important phases of the event itself. Every effort is made in the newspaper to bring events, ideas, and activities elsewhere into some local relation.

Interest in the Prominent. The interest which all readers have in what is familiar to them extends to persons, places, and things that they may not know personally but that they recognize as important or prominent. They like to read about men and women who are leaders in social, business, or political activities in the city, the state, the nation, or anywhere in the world, even though these persons exist for them only in name. A high position itself gives added importance to news concerning the person who occupies it, although many readers may not have heard of him before. Thus, in order to appeal to this general interest in the doings of persons of position, some less scrupulous reporters and editors describe the characters in their news stories as “prominent,” “well-known,” “a college graduate,” “a beautiful young society girl,” when the facts do not warrant it. Personages who are well known do not need such introduction; their names alone serve to identify them. The value of news concerning a person may be said to vary in direct proportion to his prominence. A slight accident to a candidate for the presidency of the United States attracts much more attention than a serious one to a candidate for Congress. A story of the wedding of the daughter of a multi-millionaire has thousands of readers because of the prominence of her father, whereas the account of the wedding of the corner[Pg 26] grocer’s daughter attracts only a small number who know the families. The daily life of the great affords daily pleasure to the humble.

Places that readers have often heard of, but in many cases have never seen, such as New York, Paris, Washington, Coney Island, Niagara Falls, possess an attraction that makes news from them the more interesting even though it may consist of no more than gossip and trivial happenings. Well-known places as the setting for events give added importance, therefore, to the news value of these events. Institutions, such as universities of national reputation, the Library of Congress, the Rockefeller Institute, the Young Men’s Christian Association, the Salvation Army, because they are generally known, likewise attract attention to news involving them. Familiar names of great ocean steamships, of large commercial companies, and of important railroad systems, increase the news value of stories in which they appear. Size and prominence, then, of places and things, like importance and prominence of persons, determine news values.

Home and Business Interests. The most vital concerns of both men and women, however, are their business and their home, their prosperity and their happiness. Whatever in the daily round of events affects these interests most directly will get their closest attention. Upon this principle depends the news value of many newspaper stories. Stock brokers and investors read the stock market reports; buyers and farmers, the produce and live stock quotations; owners and agents of real estate, the records of transfers and mortgages; business men generally, commercial and industrial news, because of the relation of such news to their own business affairs. A marked rise or fall in the price of butter, eggs, meat, or other staple articles of[Pg 27] food concerns not only the dealers but housewives and other purchasers of such commodities. Announcement of the proposed construction of a new trolley line appeals to readers whose transportation facilities or property are affected. Income tax legislation, parcel post, adjustments of railroad rates, state or federal supreme court decisions, the tariff, and other political and economic problems, usually interest the average reader in proportion as he thinks that they will affect him and his business. For most women readers home-making and fashions are of vital concern. Besides matters pertaining to the cost of living, which affect men and women alike, pure food laws and their enforcement, schools, the health and welfare of children, the servant problem, the milk and the water supplies, as well as the latest styles of dress,—all come very close to the everyday lives of women, who constitute no small part of the number of newspaper readers. Incidental concerns of both men and women readers, such as organizations to which they belong, general movements with which they are connected, or the social life of which they are a part, give interest for them to news concerning these activities. News values, therefore, are measured by the extent to which news affects directly the lives of readers; the greater the effect and the larger the number of readers affected, the better the news.

Combination of Interests. If one event possesses several of these different kinds of interest it is very good news, because of the greater number of readers to whom it appeals and because of the stronger appeal that it makes. Thus, for example, the “Titanic” disaster was extremely unusual in that the largest ocean liner on its first trip was sunk by an iceberg while proceeding at a high rate of speed on a clear night. Greater still was its interest because of the very large number of human lives[Pg 28] involved. Added to this was the fact that many of the passengers were prominent. The result was that news of the disaster was read with the greatest eagerness by all classes everywhere in this country as well as abroad. The combination of sources of interest and the greater degree of interest that results must be taken into consideration in measuring the final value of news.


  1. Ask yourself concerning every piece of information, How many readers will it interest? How much will it interest the average reader? Is it really new and timely?
  2. Examine every phase of an event or idea for what will be of greatest interest to the greatest number.
  3. Look always for what will appeal to the average reader as most unusual, curious, remarkable.
  4. Consider the things that give most persons great pleasure and satisfaction.
  5. Don’t overlook the “human interest” element in the day’s events.
  6. Remember that a good fight interests many, whether it is in politics, business, or sport.
  7. Don’t neglect children in the news; though small they make a big appeal.
  8. Keep on the look-out for good stories of animals.
  9. Provide reading for men and women with hobbies.
  10. Measure the value of your news on the basis of its local interest.
  11. Remember that readers are most interested in persons and places that they know.
  12. Consider the news value given by the importance and prominence of persons and things.
  13. Bring your news as close as possible to the reader’s home and business.
  14. Sharpen your “nose for news” on the grindstone of experience.

[Pg 29]



The Problem of News Gathering. The mystery of newspaper making, to the uninitiated, is how editors and reporters find out everything that happens and how they get it into print in a very short time. It seems strange to the average person that when an accident occurs in the block in which he lives, the first news of it often reaches him through the newspaper. The apparent omnipresence, not to say omniscience, of the reporter leads to the not unnatural assumption that the news gatherer walks about the city waiting Micawber-like for “something to turn up.” The size of the staff of reporters that would be required to maintain a patrol of the streets would approximate that of the police force, and would bankrupt the most prosperous newspaper. Such a system is not only impossible but quite unnecessary. News gathering is really no mystery at all, but merely a good example of efficient organization.

In organizing its news collecting, the newspaper only takes advantage of information filed for various official purposes by many different persons in no way connected with the newspaper. Policemen, firemen, sheriffs, coroners, and practically all officials of local, state, and national governments, as well as doctors, lawyers, and merchants are all unintentionally serving as reporters of news. The public records in all public or private offices are the reports which these men, many times quite unconsciously, furnish for the newspapers. What[Pg 30] the news editors do is to see that a careful watch is maintained by their reporters at all places where news is thus recorded so that they may select whatever part of it is of interest to their readers.

News Sources. The places where news is recorded, not primarily for the newspapers but really to their great advantage, and the kinds of news to be found at each place are indicated by the following list of news sources:—

Police Headquarters

—crimes, arrests, accidents, suicides, fires, disappearances, sudden deaths, and news of the police department organization.

Fire Headquarters

—fires, fire losses, and news of the fire department organization.

Coroner’s Office

—fatal accidents, sudden deaths, suicides, and murders.

Health Department

—deaths, contagious diseases, sanitary reports, and condition of city water.

Recorder or Register of Deeds

—sales and transfers of property and mortgages.

City Clerk

—marriage licenses.

County Jail

—crimes, arrests, and executions.

Mayor’s Office

—appointments and removals, municipal policies.

Criminal Courts

—arraignments, hearings, and trials.

Civil Courts

—complaints, answers, trials, verdicts, and decisions in civil suits.

Probate Office

—estates, wills.

Referee in Bankruptcy

—assignments, failures, appointment of receivers, meetings of creditors, settlements of bankrupts.

Building Inspector

—permits for new buildings and alterations, condemnations of unsafe buildings, regulation of fire escapes, and fire prevention devices.

Public Utilities Commission

—hearings and decisions of rates and regulations.

Board of Public Works

—municipal improvements.[Pg 31]

Shipping Offices

—arrival and sailing of ships, cargoes, rates, marine news.

Associated Charities

—poverty, destitution, and relief.

Board of Trade, Stock Exchange, Mining Exchange, and Chamber of Commerce

—quotations, sales, and news of stock, produce, grain, metals, live stock, etc.


—arrival and departure of guests, banquets, dinner parties, and other social functions.

News “Runs.” To get all the news that develops at each of these and many other similar places, the city editor divides the news sources into “runs” or “beats,” and details a reporter to each “run.” The reporter assigned to get or “cover” the news of police headquarters is said to have the “police run”; another assigned to the city hall has the “city hall run,” or is “city hall reporter”; one who gets the news of the child welfare movement, of social centers, benevolent organizations, etc., is said to have the “uplift run”; another is on the “hotel run.” To cover adequately these news sources, the reporter visits each office on his run from one to six times a day, examining records, interviewing officials, and chatting with secretaries and clerks. The number of times that he visits an office and the length of time that he stays are determined approximately by the amount and value of the news likely to be obtained.

As the reporter is held responsible for all the news of the places on his “run,” he must not let anything escape his notice, because a keener, quicker-witted man on the same “run” for a rival paper may get what he misses. When a reporter obtains a piece of news that reporters on other papers do not get, he is said to have a “scoop” or “beat,” and the unsuccessful paper and its reporters are said to have been “scooped.”

[Pg 32]

City News Associations. In large cities, like New York and Chicago, the gathering of all the official or routine news is done by a central news association which furnishes each paper that belongs to the association or which pays for its services, with a mimeographed copy of every news story that its reporters secure in covering all the usual runs. By this method each paper is saved the expense of providing for the scores of runs necessary in a large city in order to cover adequately all the news sources each day. When the city editor gets a news bulletin or a complete story from the news association, he can have it rewritten or can send out one of his reporters if he desires to have the event more fully covered. Such a system of local news gathering makes possible a staff of reporters relatively small as compared with the size of the city. Reporters employed by the city news association work under conditions practically the same as those in a newspaper office. Inasmuch as the stories that a news association reporter writes are edited in at least half a dozen newspaper offices by different editors and copy-readers, the reporter has the advantage of seeing how various papers treat the same news story.

Assignments. In organizing news gathering, the city editor and his assistants keep a “future” book or file with a page or compartment for each day in the year. Into this are placed, under the appropriate day, all notes, clippings, and suggestions regarding future news possibilities. If, for example, on December 10, the state legislature passes a law in regard to the size of berry boxes, to take effect on March 1 of the following year, the city editor puts a clipping of the dispatch from the state capital telling of this action, or a note recording the fact, into the compartment or page labeled February 25, so that a week before March 1, he may assign[Pg 33] one of his reporters to find out from wholesale commission dealers, berry-crate manufacturers, and the inspector of weights and measures, what steps are to be taken to carry out the provisions of the law. A similar news record is kept by the telegraph and state editors covering future events in their fields, so that correspondents may be given instructions and advice.

The city editor also has an assignment book or sheet on which is entered every important news possibility for the day, with the name of the reporter assigned to cover it, and with any information or suggestions that the editor wants to give the reporter. When the reporter arrives at the office to begin his day’s work, or when he reports to the office by telephone, he gets his assignments for the day. These assignments are usually connected with his run, so that while he is on his daily round of news gathering he may get in addition the special news assigned to him.

“Covering” Important Events. To secure an adequate report of an important event, such as a state political convention, a visit of the President of the United States, a serious crime, or a wide-spread flood, the city editor arranges the work of the various members of his staff so that every important phase of the event will be “covered.” On the occasion of a day’s visit of the president, for example, one reporter is assigned to follow the chief executive about all day from the time he arrives until he leaves, and to write the general story of his visit. Another is detailed to report his arrival, the ovation given him, and possibly the short speech that he makes in response. A third is told to “cover” the reception tendered by the Merchants and Manufacturers Club; a fourth to report the luncheon given for him at the City Club; and a fifth who can write shorthand to get a verbatim report of his speech at the Coliseum[Pg 34] in the afternoon. Practically every event that can be anticipated is provided for in advance by the city editor, and to that extent is easier to handle than the unexpected ones.

When Big News “Breaks.” Important events that occur unexpectedly are the real test of the editor’s ability to organize his staff quickly and effectively. What is involved in arranging to get all phases of a big news story is shown by the manner in which such an event as the attempted assassination of Mayor Gaynor of New York on August 9, 1910, was handled by the New York papers. The following summary of an account given by one of the city editors illustrates the methods employed.[3]

The first news of the attempt to assassinate the mayor came at 9:30 A.M. in the form of a news association bulletin which read:

Mayor Gaynor was shot this morning while on the deck of the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse in Hoboken. It is rumored he is dead.

The city editor on a morning paper at once got in touch with as many of his reporters as he could reach on the telephone. The first three reporters that he telephoned to were told the substance of the bulletin and were sent to Hoboken to get the details.

The second bulletin from the news association, received a few minutes after the first, was as follows:

The mayor was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital, Hoboken.

As soon as another reporter was available, the city editor told him to go to St. Mary’s Hospital to see the doctors and to report the result at once. The fifth reporter was sent to find Mrs. Gaynor at her city home[Pg 35] or at her country house, as the city editor knew that she was not accompanying the mayor on his trip abroad.

The third news association bulletin, or “flash,” gave these facts concerning the assassin:

The man who shot the mayor has been arrested. His name is James J. Gallagher. He lives at No. 440 Third Ave.

The city editor thereupon gave a reporter this assignment. “Go up there; get all you can about him. Get a picture. Find out to what political party he belongs. Run him to the ground and phone me later; I may be able to give you something additional.” To another reporter the city editor said: “Gallagher is to be arraigned in the police headquarters in Hoboken; go over there quickly.”

The next bulletin opened up a new phase of the subject, the motive for the crime:

Gallagher was a night watchman in the dock department until July 1, when he was discharged from the city employ.

After the reporter who had been sent out to get the history of Gallagher telephoned that Gallagher had been a disgruntled employee of the city who had been constantly writing letters of complaint to his superiors, the city editor assigned a reporter to get the facts, saying: “Gallagher was a chronic kicker. Go down to the Department of Docks and to the Civil Service Commission and get copies of all the correspondence.”

A reporter was sent to see John Purroy Mitchel, the acting mayor, another to find out the city charter provisions regarding a possible vacancy in the office of mayor under such circumstances. A rewrite man was told to get from the office collection of biographical sketches, or “morgue,” the material on file concerning the life of the mayor and to write an obituary. A tip[Pg 36] by telephone from a man who had once employed Gallagher to the effect that he had often done strange, uncanny things, led to a reporter’s being sent to get further particulars from this informant.

The complete list of assignments as they appeared on the city editor’s sheet was as follows, each being preceded by the name of the reporter detailed to cover that particular phase of the event: (1) Main story of Gaynor shooting, (2) Interviews on board the Kaiser Wilhelm, (3) Gallagher on board the Kaiser Wilhelm, (4) Gallagher, the man, and his correspondence, (5) Gaynor at St. Mary’s Hospital, (6) The arraignment of Gallagher and his plans, (7) Mrs. Gaynor and family, (8) John Purroy Mitchel, the acting mayor, (9) City Hall, (10) What the charter says, with interviews, (11) Obituary of Gaynor, (12) The strange, uncanny things Gallagher did.

Getting the Facts. A large part of news gathering consists of getting information from persons by asking questions. To ask questions that will elicit the desired facts most effectively is not so easy as it seems. Most persons, although not unwilling to give information, are not particularly interested in doing so, and in replying do not discriminate between what is news and what is not. Tact and skill are necessary to get many persons to tell what they know. A stranger who insists on asking questions is very naturally regarded with suspicion. Even when it becomes known that the stranger is a newspaper reporter, he is not always cordially received. Often he finds that it is easier to get the facts when his identity as a reporter is revealed. Nevertheless, there are not infrequent occasions when all the skill of an astute lawyer examining a witness is required to get the desired information. Reporters should never hesitate to ask tactfully as many[Pg 37] questions as are necessary, and to persist until they get what they want.

The way in which the reporter works in gathering together the various phases of an event before he is ready to write the story is best shown by an example. The city editor, let us say, receives a bulletin to the effect that an unknown, well-dressed man of about sixty years has been seriously injured by falling off the platform in the subway station at 65th Street and Western Avenue, and that he has been removed to St. Mary’s Hospital. The city editor sends out one of his reporters to find out what he can about the accident.

The reporter starts at once for the subway station. At the corner near the station he sees a policeman with whom he carries on the following conversation:

Reporter.—Did you send in a report on the old man who fell on the subway tracks an hour ago?


R.—Do you know who he is?

P.—No, I couldn’t find out his name.

R.—Was he badly hurt?

P.—I guess he was. His head was cut behind, and he hadn’t come to when the ambulance took him to the hospital.

R.—How did it happen?

P.—I don’t know. The first I knew a kid came running up to me and told me a man was hurt in the subway. When I got down there, they had him on the platform, and a crowd was standing around him. I saw the old man was hurt pretty bad, so I telephoned for St. Mary’s ambulance. We put some water on his face, but he didn’t come to. When the ambulance doctor came he said he was alive all right.

R.—How did he fall off the platform?

P.—I don’t know; I guess he fainted.

R.—Thanks; I’ll go down and see the ticket chopper.

The reporter thereupon goes down into the subway station. The ticker chopper, he finds, has just come on[Pg 38] duty and does not know anything about the accident. He therefore decides to inquire of the girl in charge of the news-stand. The conversation between her and the reporter is as follows:

Reporter.—I hear that an old man was hurt down here. How did it happen?

Girl.—He fell on the tracks and cut his head.

R.—What was the matter with him?

G.—I don’t know; I guess he got dizzy.

R.—Did you see him fall?

G.—No; I was busy selling a lady a magazine when I heard some one yell.

R.—How did they get him out?

G.—Two men jumped down to get him, but they couldn’t lift him up on the platform. Then they heard the train coming and jumped over to the side.

R.—Did the motorman stop the train when he saw them?

G.—No; I ran over to the ticket chopper’s box and grabbed his red lantern, and jumped down to the track and waved it.

R.—Good for you! Weren’t you afraid of being run over?

G.—I didn’t think of being scared. I just kept waving the lantern, and the motorman saw it and put on the brakes. My, but the sparks flew!

R.—How soon did he stop?

G.—Oh, the train was only about ten feet away when it stopped, and I kept stepping back all the time to keep out of the way.

R.—Well, you must have had a pretty close call. Who got the old man out?

G.—The motorman and one of the guards climbed down and lifted him up with the two other men.

R.—What did they say about your stopping the train that way?

G.—Oh, nothing. One man said, “Good for you, little girl,” and another man wanted to know my name, and said I ought to have a medal, but I told him I hadn’t done any thing and didn’t deserve a medal.

R.—Did you give him your name?

[Pg 39]

G.—Yes, because he kept asking me and telling me that he thought I ought to have a medal.

R.—Well, I want your name, too, for the News.

G.—No; I don’t want my name in the newspaper for I didn’t do anything.

R.—But I must tell how you stopped the train in writing about how the man was hurt.

G.—All right; my name is Annie Hagan.

R.—Where do you live?

G.—At 916 East Watson Avenue.

R.—Have you been working here long?

G.—No; I just started last week. I quit school and got this job here.

R.—You didn’t hear any one say who the old man was?

G.—No; I guess he was alone.

R.—Did the doctor say how badly he was hurt?

G.—No; he felt his pulse, and listened to his heart, and said he was alive all right.

R.—Thanks; I’ll go over to St. Mary’s and see how he is getting along.

On reaching the hospital, which is only two blocks from the subway station, the reporter asks for the superintendent, with whom he carries on the following conversation:

R.—I want to find out about the old man who fell off the platform in the 65th Street subway station an hour and a half ago. How badly was he hurt?

S.—What was his name?

R.—I don’t know.

S.—I’ll look up the record. Here it is. He died at 1:15. His skull was fractured, and he died of a cerebral hemorrhage.

R.—Did they find out who he was?

S.—No; this card is the only clue we have.

R.—May I see it?

It is a business card of the Blair Photographic Studio, 712 Broadway, on the back of which is written in pencil the words, “Oliver, Ithaca.” To save time, the reporter telephones from the office of the hospital to the[Pg 40] Blair Studio, and the conversation over the telephone between the reporter and the clerk is as follows:

Reporter.—An old man who was hurt in the subway this noon had in his pocket one of your cards with “Oliver” written on the back. Do you know who he is?

Clerk.—That must be the old man who came in this morning to see Mr. Williams, one of our retouchers, but Mr. Williams went to Ithaca last week.

R.—Was Mr. Williams’ first name Oliver?

C.—Yes; his initials were O. R., and the old man said he was his uncle.

R.—Where did Mr. Williams live here?

C.—I don’t know. But hold the line; I’ll ask Mr. Baxter.

C.—Mr. Baxter says that Mr. Williams’ address was 3116 Easton Street, near Brown.

R.—All right. Thank you. Good-bye.

From the hospital the reporter hurries to the place where Mr. Williams lived before he left for Ithaca. The conversation between the landlady of the rooming house at 3116 Easton Street and the reporter follows:

Reporter.—Did Oliver R. Williams live here?

Landlady.—He ain’t here now. He moved away last week.

R.—Did a well-dressed old man ever come to see him when he was here?

L.—What do you want to know for?

R.—Oh, the old man fell in the subway this noon and was badly hurt. He said Mr. Williams was his nephew.

L.—I always said something would happen to him. He fainted on the steps here one day just after he rung the bell, and when I got to the door he was all in a heap right here. I knew he wanted Mr. Williams, because he came to see him a week before, so I called him, and Mr. Williams came and got him some whiskey, and after a little he came to. Mr. Williams told me after he went away that his uncle had heart trouble. Did he get hurt bad?

R.—Yes, he died at the hospital an hour ago.

[Pg 41]

L.—Oh my, that’s too bad! He was a nice old fellow and Mr. Williams thought a lot of him.

R.—What was his name?

L.—Mr. Williams called him Uncle Frank, and when he introduced him to me after he came to, he called him Mr. Dutcher.

R.—Do you know where he lived?

L.—No. I don’t think he lived in the city because he didn’t come here often, and when he came to, Mr. Williams told him he oughtn’t to come all the way alone.

R.—Do you know what his business was?

L.—No. He looked like he had some money.

R.—When was it that he fainted here?

L.—Let’s see. It was about three weeks ago, I guess.

R.—Did Mr. Williams have any relatives in the city?

L.—I don’t know. I guess not. He came from up state somewhere. He only lived here since January. He didn’t like the city very well. He said he couldn’t sleep.

R.—Thank you.

The reporter then stops at the drug store on the next corner to find out whether or not the name of Frank Dutcher appears in the city directory. No such name is to be found in this directory or in the telephone directory. As no more information is apparently obtainable, he returns to the News office and reports to the city editor what he has found. The city editor tells him to write about 500 words playing up the girl’s part in stopping the train, and saying that the man is “supposed to be” Frank Dutcher.

Putting the Facts into the News Story. The story that the reporter writes is as follows:—

By jumping to the subway tracks and waving a red lantern before an oncoming train at the risk of her life, Miss Annie Hagan, in charge of the news-stand in the subway station at 65th St. and Western Avenue, saved a man, supposed to be Frank Dutcher, from being crushed to death as he lay unconscious across the tracks. The[Pg 42] man’s skull was fractured by the fall from the platform to the tracks, and he died soon after being removed to St. Mary’s Hospital.

The accident occurred shortly before noon when the station was crowded. The man, who was well dressed and appeared to be about 60 years old, was seen walking down the platform when he suddenly staggered and pitched forward. Before anyone could run to his assistance, he fell head foremost on the tracks.

Knowing that a train might come at any moment, two men jumped down to the roadbed and tried to lift the man, but found it impossible to get him up to the level of the platform. While they were striving to get him off the tracks, the rumble of the oncoming train warned them of their danger. After another vain attempt to lift the unconscious man up to the platform, they jumped to the side of the track to save themselves.

Miss Hagan, realizing the situation, ran to the ticket chopper’s box and seizing his red lantern jumped down to the tracks. Waving the lantern before her she ran along the track in the glare of the headlight of the train. When the motorman saw the red light, he applied the emergency brakes, and the locked wheels slid along the track sending out a shower of sparks.

The train came to a stop within ten feet of the plucky girl, who then called to the motorman and one of the guards to help lift up the injured man. When he had been placed on the platform, she climbed up and started back to the news-stand as if nothing had happened.

“You ought to get a Carnegie medal,” declared one of the bystanders, who asked the girl her name and address, evidently to present her claims for the life saving award. Miss Hagan modestly disclaimed any credit for her heroism, and at first[Pg 43] refused to give her name, but was finally prevailed upon to do so.

The unconscious man was taken in an ambulance to St. Mary’s Hospital, where it was found that he was suffering from a fractured skull. He was rushed to the operating room, but he died of a cerebral hemorrhage.

The only means of identifying him was a business card of a Broadway photographer with the name, “Oliver, Ithaca,” written in pencil on the back. At this studio it was found that an elderly man had inquired this morning for Oliver Williams, a retoucher, who last week went to Ithaca, N. Y. At Williams’ former rooming place it was learned that his uncle, Frank Dutcher, who answered to the description of the victim of the accident, had suffered from an attack of heart failure while visiting his nephew recently and had fallen unconscious on the doorstep. As the name of Frank Dutcher does not appear in the city directory, it is believed that the dead man was not a resident of this city but had come to pay his nephew a visit.

An analysis of this story shows how the reporter wove together all the important pieces of information which he had gathered by interviewing the policeman, the news-stand girl, the hospital superintendent, the clerk in the studio, and the landlady, none of whom are specifically mentioned as the sources of his information. In accordance with the instructions of the city editor, he “played up” the “feature” of the story, the bravery of the girl, by putting it at the beginning and by describing the accident in detail to show her heroism.

Following up the News. Many news stories, like the one just considered, do not exhaust the news possibilities of the event, but may be followed up in later[Pg 44] editions or in the next day’s issues by completing what was necessarily left incomplete for lack of time, or by giving new phases of the event that have developed since the first story was written. A reporter on a morning paper, for example, would be given a clipping of the above story taken from the afternoon edition, and would be told by the city editor to see the coroner to get the results of his telegram to Williams, the man’s nephew, at Ithaca, and any other information available regarding the identity of the old man. Often unexpected and important news develops, which makes the “follow-up,” or second story a bigger one than the first. Each reporter and correspondent should read carefully as many newspapers as possible before he begins his day’s work so that he may get suggestions for “follow-up” stories on his “run,” or for “local ends” of news stories sent in from outside the city. In large offices, one of the editors goes over all the local newspapers to clip out the stories to be “followed up,” or to be rewritten in the office.

Interviewing. In obtaining the information for the foregoing story by means of conversations with several persons, the reporter’s aim was to get what they said rather than how they said it; that is, he wanted primarily the facts that they had to give, not the way that they expressed these facts. In the news story it was not necessary to refer specifically to the persons who furnished the information or to quote what they said. In many instances, however, it is important to “interview” persons in order to obtain their opinions or their versions of current events and to give what they say just as they said it. The terms “interviewing” and “interview” in newspaper work are often limited to this method of reporting practically verbatim what is said by the persons “interviewed.” Interviewing of this[Pg 45] type requires great skill and tact, and successful interviewers are highly valued on all newspapers.

The two problems that the reporter has to meet are how to gain access to the person to be interviewed and how to induce him to talk for publication. Busy men have not time or inclination to give interviews to every reporter who desires them. Many times such men do not wish to say anything for publication on the desired subject, and absolutely refuse to talk. The resourcefulness of the reporter is tested again and again in getting access to men who are surrounded in their offices by office boys, private secretaries, and clerks, and who on public occasions such as banquets and receptions are sometimes equally well guarded against newspaper men. When it is impossible to see the man personally, it may be possible to submit to him several written questions and thus lead him to issue a statement answering or evading the questions.

Even when an audience is secured with the person to be interviewed, his not infrequent unwillingness to talk for publication has to be overcome. On some occasions to ask immediately and directly for the desired information is the best way to secure results. At other times, to engage him in conversation on some subject in which he is interested and then to lead to the one on which the reporter wishes to interview him, proves successful. Young reporters often insist on giving their own views on the subject on which they are trying to interview a person. The reporter should remember that he is an impartial observer, not an advocate on one side or the other. If in an effort to get information from the person whom he is interviewing he suggests opposing opinions, these opinions should not be given as his own but as those of others. Tact and a knowledge of human nature are essential.

[Pg 46]

In interviewing, as in all reporting, the newspaper man should not take notes in the presence of the person with whom he is talking unless he feels sure it can be done without affecting the freedom and ease with which the man will talk. As soon as a reporter begins to take notes, the speaker at once realizes that his statements are to appear in black and white for the world to read. That realization leads to caution, and caution leads to silence, partial or complete. To get the person to talk as freely and naturally as possible is the object of all interviewing, for the best interviewers want more than words; they want the fullest expression of personality, an expression that is only possible when all feeling of restraint is absent. The good interviewer cultivates verbal memory so that he can reproduce verbatim all the significant statements which he has obtained as soon as he is out of the presence of the man that he has interviewed. At the first convenient place immediately after the interview is over, the reporter writes out as much as he desires to print, word for word as he remembers it.

Reporting Speeches. In reporting speeches, addresses, lectures, and sermons, the newspaper man either takes long-hand notes and writes out later what he wants to use, or writes a long-hand verbatim report of such parts as he desires. Few reporters can write short-hand, and the few who can generally do not use it extensively because of the length of time required to transcribe short-hand notes. It is much quicker, and therefore more important in newspaper work, to write a connected or “running” story, or verbatim report of a speech or lecture while it is being delivered, by selecting significant statements and by omitting the explanatory ones. With a little practice, the average person of intelligence can remember a statement, word for word,[Pg 47] as the speaker makes it, long enough to put it in writing, and then by repeating this process for every important statement, can give an accurate verbatim, but necessarily condensed, report of any speech. As newspapers generally want only a small part of the average address, the reporter has little difficulty in writing a good account of it in long-hand. When a complete verbatim report is desired, a short-hand reporter is assigned to cover the address.

“Covering” Trials and Hearings. The same general principles governing the reporting of speeches apply to the reporting of trials where testimony is given in response to questioning by attorneys, or when witnesses appear before investigating committees of the state legislature, Congress, or other bodies. Questions and answers may be taken down, or if the substance of the testimony is desired in either verbatim or indirect form, the reporter can fit together the answers into a continuous account of what the witness testifies, neglecting partially or entirely the questions that elicit the testimony. A “running story” of the trial or investigation is generally written in the room where it is going on, so that the copy may be put into type as fast as possible. In reporting important trials the newspaper sometimes arranges to get a complete verbatim report from the official short-hand court reporter or occasionally from an expert stenographer employed for the purpose, and from this complete record those facts that are desired for publication are selected.

Advance Copies. It is always a great advantage to a newspaper to secure in advance a copy of a speech, a report, a decision, or any document, so that it may be put in form for publication and may be set up in type ready to print as soon as possible after it is given to the public. Such advance news is marked to be “released”[Pg 48] for publication when it becomes public. For example, when a copy of the speech to be delivered by the governor of the state at the laying of a corner-stone at eleven o’clock in the morning on Washington’s Birthday, is obtained a day or two in advance, it is marked “Release 12 M., Feb. 22.” The result will be that in the first edition of the afternoon paper published after 12 o’clock noon on February 22 as much of the speech as is desired can be printed, perhaps a few minutes after the governor has concluded his address. Newspapers always regard most scrupulously the release date which the reporter or correspondent puts at the top of his advance story. To violate the confidence of men who furnish news in advance by publishing it before it should be released, is considered by newspaper men a serious breach of trust. Reporters and correspondents should, therefore, mark plainly at the top of the first sheet of copy the word “release” followed by the hour and date when it can be printed. If the date and hour at which the news will become public cannot be fixed in advance, the copy is marked, “Hold for Release, which will probably be at 12 M., Feb. 22”; and the reporter or correspondent notifies his paper of the exact time of release as soon as it is fixed.

Getting News by Telephone. The telephone, both in local and in long distance service, is extensively used in getting news and in communicating it to the newspaper office. Editors often telephone their instructions to reporters and correspondents. Newspapermen use the telephone to “run down” rumors and “tips,” to verify news reports, to get “interviews,” and, in short, to obtain all kinds of information. Although some men refuse to be “interviewed” over the telephone, it is often possible to get “interviews” more easily by this means than by any other. Reporters, or “watchers,” at[Pg 49] police headquarters and at other news sources telephone important information to the city editor so that he may assign men to get the news involved. When lack of time prevents the reporter from returning to the office to write his story, he telephones the facts to a “rewrite man,” who puts them in news-story form. Or the reporter may dictate his story over the telephone to a man in the newspaper office, who, using an overhead receiver like that worn by telephone operators, takes it down rapidly on a typewriter. Experienced reporters can dictate their stories in this way with only their notes before them. The long distance service is used in the same manner by correspondents when it can be more advantageously employed than the telegraph.

Photographs. Illustrations, or “cuts,” have come to be an important part of almost all newspapers. Although most of the photographs used for illustrations are made by the staff photographer or are secured from companies that make a specialty of taking pictures of current events, reporters and correspondents are often able to supply their papers with pictures of persons, places, or events that are a part of the day’s news. Good photographs may sometimes be secured from amateurs who happen to get snapshots of some interesting occurrence. Every reporter and every correspondent should have a camera and should learn how to take pictures to illustrate the stories that he writes, even though he may not have occasion to take such photographs frequently. Unmounted photographic prints with a glossy surface and with strong contrasts are the most satisfactory ones from which to make newspaper halftones. A brief description of the picture should be written on the back of every photograph. Unmounted photographs should always be mailed flat. Correspondents are paid for photographs that are used by newspapers.

[Pg 50]

Special Kinds of News. Special kinds of reporting, such as is done by sporting, market, financial, railroad, labor, marine, society, dramatic, and musical editors, naturally requires special training and experience in the subject matter of these fields. The methods of gathering these special kinds of news are not particularly different from those of collecting general news. The sporting editor and his assistants often have to write a “running” account of a baseball game or football game as it progresses. The musical and dramatic critics, of course, express their opinions on productions, instead of simply reporting what took place at the theatre or concert. The railroad, labor, market, or marine editors report the news in their particular fields, sometimes in special forms, such as market reports or quotations, but their work of news gathering is like that of the general reporter.

Qualifications of the Reporter. Rapidity, perseverance, accuracy, intelligence, and tact, as well as the “news sense,” or “nose for news,” are the essential qualifications for successful reporting.

Nowhere is it truer that “time is money” than in newspaper making. The reporter, as the news collector and news writer, must save as much time as possible by working fast. To know just where to get the news and how to get it quickly, always means great economy of time and effort. Rapid, accurate judgment of news values, likewise, is an important qualification for a good newspaper man. “Get all the news and get it quick,” was the command that a certain city editor of the old school used to thunder at his cub reporters.

Perseverance. To get all the news, or sometimes to get any news, demands perseverance. The reporter must follow one clue after another until he finds what he is looking for, or is convinced that there is nothing[Pg 51] to find. By stopping in his pursuit before he has all there is to get, he may miss the biggest “feature” of the story. Every neglected clue may mean a “scoop” by a rival. To return empty-handed is to admit defeat. News hunting is often discouraging business, but the reporter must always keep up his determination by a firm belief that what is eluding him may be a big story, probably the biggest story of his career.

Accuracy. Accuracy must extend to every detail of reporting. As the reporter is seldom on the spot when an unexpected event happens, he must rely upon the accounts of it given by eye witnesses. These accounts often differ materially because of the common inaccuracy of observation and judgment. The reporter must weigh the testimony of each witness, much as a juryman does in a trial, and must decide which version is the most probable one. When time permits, he can verify doubtful details by questioning other witnesses on the particular parts in which the versions differ. He should always make every reasonable effort to get all particulars as accurately as possible.

Great care should invariably be taken to have names and addresses correct. The reporter will do well to ask his informants to spell unfamiliar names for him. City, telephone, and society directories, the various kinds of “Who’s Who” volumes, and similar lists, are convenient sources for getting names, initials, and addresses. Even the necessity for speed in newspaper work is not a valid excuse for carelessness and inaccuracy in news gathering. The minutes required to verify names, addresses, and other details, are always well spent. Rumors and unconfirmed statements generally should be carefully investigated before they are given much credence, especially when they reflect upon the reputation of persons, organizations, or business enterprises.[Pg 52] A false rumor given wide currency through a newspaper may ruin a man or a woman, or seriously injure a bank or business firm. No correction or retraction that a newspaper can make ever counteracts completely the effects of the original story. A rumor is often valuable as a news “tip,” but like all news tips it needs to be traced to its source and confirmed by evidence before it is really news. Often it is mere gossip or the product of a fertile imagination, with little or no basis in fact. False and inaccurate statements are not what newspapers or their readers want.

Tact and Courtesy. On the stage the reporter runs about with note-book and pencil in hand; in real life, he carries some folded sheets of copy paper on which to take notes when necessary, in a way to attract the least possible attention. He neither conceals nor displays his profession. An impersonal, anonymous observer of persons and events, he does not obtrude his personality upon those with whom his work brings him in contact. Tactful, courteous, friendly, he elicits his information as quickly as possible. When a more aggressive attitude is necessary to secure what he wants and has a right to have, he is equal to the occasion. But whatever may be the circumstances, the reporter never forgets that he is a gentleman, and that the newspaper which he represents never expects him to do anything to get the news that he or it need be ashamed to acknowledge to the world. Some papers may not hold up this ideal to their reporters and editors, but every self-respecting newspaper must.

To cultivate personal acquaintance with those with whom news gathering brings the reporter in contact, is the best means of increasing his ability to get the news. When men come to have a friendly interest in the reporter and his work, and find that they can trust him to report accurately the news that they give him,[Pg 53] they often go out of their way to help him. Many a “scoop” has been the result of the friendly aid of some one who had news to give and who saved it for the reporter in whom he had become personally interested. In other instances, where official news must be given to all alike, the favored reporter may be given a “tip” in advance as to some important phase of this official news which he can use to advantage in his paper, or he may be able to get an advance copy of a report or of a public document so that his paper will have a good story on it ready to print as soon as it is given to the public.

Through his personal relations with men, however, the reporter is sometimes put in a difficult position. In conversation with friends, for example, he may learn of important news that would make a good story and perhaps give him credit for a “scoop.” But he must remember that when he obtains news in the confidence of private conversation, he has no right to use it without the consent of those from whom he gets it in this way. At other times he may be given news with the request that it be not published, and again he must beware of violating confidence. No self-respecting reporter will fail to regard the trust placed in him by those with whom he comes in contact either in social or professional relations. Another problem confronts the reporter when friends or acquaintances request him to suppress the whole or a part of a news story that it is his duty to write. Since a reporter is supposed to give all the important facts in a fair and impartial manner, he has no right to omit any of them without the knowledge of his superiors. The best way out of the difficulty, therefore, is to tell those who desire the suppression of any news that the decision in such matters rests with the editor and not with the reporter.

[Pg 54]

How the Correspondent Works. The work of the correspondent is very much the same as that of the reporter. Like the reporter, he gets assignments or instructions from time to time; he asks his superiors how much of a story they want on a particular event; he watches the news sources in the city or town for which he is responsible. As he is frequently on the staff of a local paper as well, he has the advantage of whatever news is collected for this paper. Whenever an important event is to take place in the district which he covers, he receives instructions a day or two in advance from the telegraph editor telling him what the paper wants and how much he is to send. If the telegraph editor desires some phase of an unexpected happening looked up by the correspondent, he telegraphs to him the necessary directions. The correspondent, likewise, telegraphs to the editor whenever he has a story on which he wants instructions. When a correspondent telegraphs for instructions, he is said to send a “query” or “to query” his paper. A query usually consists of a brief statement of the news in a sentence or two followed by the number of words in which the correspondent thinks he can write the story adequately. The typical form of a query would be:

Buffalo Express, Buffalo, N. Y.

Easthampton, N. Y., Jan. 16.—Western Steel Co.’s mill burning, loss $150,000, two firemen killed. 300. Filed 9:23 P.M.


The telegraph editor can use the facts thus given in the query by turning the dispatch over to the copy desk to be edited for the next edition; and at the same time he may telegraph to Wilson, the Easthampton correspondent, to send 150 instead of 300 words on the fire. The correspondent, on receiving these instructions, telegraphs[Pg 55] at once as much of the story as he can in 150 words. He always puts at the end of the dispatch before his signature the hour at which he files the story at the telegraph office, so that he will not be held responsible for any delay in transmitting or delivering the telegram.

When the correspondent has a number of news stories of interest on which he desires to have instructions, he sends his “queries” in the form of a “schedule” in which each story is numbered. For example:

Philadelphia Times, Philadelphia, Pa.

Erie, Pa., March 10.—No. 1. Northern Hospital for Insane burns, all inmates rescued. 800.

2. C. H. Hartman, cashier Miners’ Bank, commits suicide. 250.

3. Principal Walters of high school prohibits football. 100.

4. Mayor Altmeyer removes Health Commissioner Murphy for incompetency. 150.

5. Minister delivers strong sermon on “Is There a Devil?” 300.

R. N. Wilson.

The telegraph editor might reply to this schedule with the following instructions, which would indicate how much the correspondent is to send on each of the stories that he has scheduled, as well as the fact that nothing is wanted on story No. 5.

Philadelphia, Mar. 10.—R. N. Wilson, Erie, Pa. Rush one and two; 50 three; 100 four.


The correspondent is paid a regular salary if the amount of news that he sends daily is considerable, but more often he is paid every month at a regular space rate for the amount printed of the news that he sends during the month. On some papers the correspondents clip out all of their news stories and paste them together in a “string” which they send in once a month,[Pg 56] so that the telegraph editor may pay them according to the length of the “string.” In many offices the telegraph editor keeps a record by crediting every correspondent with what he furnishes, and sends monthly a check for the amount due.

News Associations. Most of the news of the state, nation, and world generally is furnished to newspapers, not by their own correspondents, but through one of the several news or press associations, such as the Associated Press, the United Press, and the International Press Service. The Associated Press is a coöperative news-gathering and news-distributing organization with a membership consisting of many of the leading papers throughout the country. The expenses of the association are divided equally among the newspapers that are members. Each paper that belongs to the association agrees to furnish all the others with the news that it gets in the local field. The Associated Press also has correspondents everywhere in the world, most of whom are paid for what news they furnish, while others at important news centers are regularly employed to gather and send news to the association. To facilitate the handling of the news, the Associated Press has divided the country into four divisions with a central office and a superintendent in each; and in these divisions there is a bureau at every important news center with a correspondent who is responsible for all the news in his district of the division. Associated Press correspondents send the news of the cities, towns, or sections for which they are responsible to the district bureau, or the division office, where it is edited and distributed to the newspapers of the division, and is sent on to the other division offices to be edited and distributed to papers in these divisions. The United Press is a corporation which furnishes its news service[Pg 57] to afternoon papers at a rate determined by the distance of the newspaper from the distributing point and by the amount of news sent. It differs from the Associated Press in the fact that it is not a coöperative organization. The International Press Service connected with the papers controlled by Mr. W. R. Hearst also furnishes newspapers generally with news service.

The instructions given by the Associated Press and the United Press to their correspondents, from which the following extracts are taken, indicate the general rules to be followed by a correspondent who is sending out news that is of more than local interest.

Be able always to give a valid reason for sending a dispatch.

File news with the telegraph operator at the earliest possible moment. Dispatches should be filed before 9 A.M. for the noon editions; before 12 M. for the 3 o’clocks; and before 2 P.M. for the 5 o’clocks; nothing should be filed after 2:15 P.M. except night matter, which should be marked N.P.R. (night press rate). If there should be news of great importance, file a bulletin of 100 words at any hour. All matter for afternoon papers should be filed at the earliest possible moment without regard to editions.

When the news is of extraordinary character, or very sensational, file at once a bulletin of 100 words, and wait instructions before sending the details, as the number of words desired will be ordered. Should the news prove to be more important than the facts first available indicated, a second bulletin of 100 words should be filed as soon as the additional facts are known.

The news in every dispatch should be given in the first paragraph, details following. A story should be told as briefly as is consistent with an intelligent statement of the facts.

Notify, if possible, the general office by mail at least a week in advance in regard to the date of every meeting of national and state organizations, and of any gathering or coming event not of a local character, including the state and congressional conventions of political parties announced to be held in your city. Instructions will be given you as to the[Pg 58] number of words to be sent in covering the events designated. All matter should be telegraphed unless “by mail” is specified in an order.

Advance copies of speeches and addresses of public men, and important platforms and resolutions of assemblies and conventions, whenever possible should be secured in advance and mailed to the general office to be held until released. All advance matter is to be sent “subject to release.” The time of release of advance matter should be stated instead of the edition for which the matter is released.

Accuracy, speed, and brevity are what we desire.

The correspondent should be fair toward all interests.

Do not send matter of merely local interest. Any matter sent must be of general or exceptional state interest.


  1. Always have at hand several soft black pencils.
  2. Take notes on folded copy paper rather than in a notebook.
  3. Keep a pocket date-book for all future events and news possibilities.
  4. Get all the news; don’t stop with half of it.
  5. Run down every clue whenever the character of the news warrants it.
  6. Work rapidly; don’t putter.
  7. Don’t make the necessity for speed an excuse for carelessness or inaccuracy.
  8. Be especially careful about names, initials, and addresses.
  9. Don’t take rumors for facts.
  10. Persevere until you get what you were sent for; don’t come back empty-handed.
  11. Be resourceful in devising ways and means of getting news.
  12. Study your paper to see to what kind of news it gives greatest space and prominence.
  13. Familiarize yourself thoroughly with the whole city, and especially with every place on your own run.
  14. Never neglect even for a day a news source on your regular run.[Pg 59]
  15. Make acquaintances among all classes of people with whom your work brings you in contact.
  16. Interest your friends and acquaintances in your work so that they will coöperate with you in getting news.
  17. Gather all news quietly and unobtrusively.
  18. Be tactful with every one; never make an enemy.
  19. Never betray a confidence no matter how big the “scoop” would be if you did.
  20. Remember that you can always be both a gentleman and a good reporter.
  21. Don’t take notes in interviewing.
  22. Always know exactly what information you desire before beginning to interview a person.
  23. Get advance copies of anything to be quoted directly or indirectly in a news story.
  24. Mark the release date plainly at the beginning of all advance copies or stories.
  25. Get photographs of persons and events if possible, and write a description on the back of the photographs.
  26. File telegraph stories at the earliest possible moment.
  27. Always follow instructions.
  28. Mail stories, either by regular or special delivery, whenever they will surely reach the newspaper in time for the edition for which they are intended.
  29. Never put off till to-morrow sending news that is new to-day.

[Pg 60]



Writing the News. After the reporter has found the news and has collected all the important details concerning it, he must write it up for publication. To present the news effectively is as important as to get it. Many a good piece of news has been spoiled in the writing. The raw material of fact must be transformed skillfully into the finished product of the news story. The reporter is supposed to be able to write an adequate report. When he does not, the copy-reader or the “rewrite man” is called upon to make good the reporter’s failure. Ordinarily the copy-reader needs only to polish off the rough edges. The work of the good reporter ought to require little or no editing. The careless, slovenly writer is not a welcome addition to the staff of any paper. The less editing a reporter’s copy requires the more satisfactory will he be.

Essentials of Good Copy. The first essential of good copy is legibility. Typewritten copy, double or triple spaced, is always preferred. In long-hand writing, likewise, liberal space should be left between the lines and for margins. In such copy the “u’s” should be underscored and the “n’s” overscored in order to differentiate them. Proper names in long-hand copy should be printed to avoid errors in spelling. If the story is begun halfway down the first page, the copy-reader will have enough space on that sheet to write the headline. Quotation marks, or “quotes” as they are called, should be enclosed in half-circles, thus, “⁾stunt,⁽” to indicate[Pg 61] whether they are beginning or end marks. A small cross may be used to advantage for a period. Numerical figures and abbreviations that are to be spelled out should be enclosed in a circle. Each paragraph should be indented, and the first word of it should be preceded by an inverted “L,” thus ⅃; if a new paragraph is desired where there was none in the copy as first written, the paragraph sign (¶) should be used. At the end of every complete story should be placed the end mark (#); if the story is incomplete, the word “more” is written beneath the last sentence. Additions to follow the last sentence of the story are marked with the name of the story and the abbreviation for additions; thus, “Add 2 Hotel Fire” means that the piece of copy is the second addition to the hotel fire story; “Add 1 Wilkins Suicide” means the first addition to the story of Wilkins’ suicide. Additions to be inserted in the story are marked “Insert A—Johnson Will Case” for the first insert in the “Will Case” story; “Insert B—Trolley Collision” for the second insert in the collision story. The place at which the new piece of copy is to be inserted is often indicated thus: “Insert after first paragraph of lead—Murder Trial.” Copy must never be written on both sides of the paper.

Style and Structure. In the writing of the news story two elements must be considered: (1) the style; and (2) the structure. The first has to do with the expression; the second with the arrangement of material.

Clearness. Clearness is the first requisite of newspaper style as it is of all writing. Newspapers are read rapidly, and rapid reading is possible only when the words yield their ideas with little effort on the part of the reader. The less the effort required to get the meaning, the more easily and rapidly can he read. Clearness is most readily obtained by comparative simplicity of[Pg 62] style. However effective elaborate sentence construction, learned diction, and carefully wrought figures of speech may be in other kinds of writing, they ordinarily have no place in the news story. This does not mean that literary devices must be abandoned in newspaper writing or that newspaper style is bald and unattractive. News stories demand all the literary ability that the reporter possesses, for besides presenting the news clearly they must be interesting and attractive. Effectiveness in a simple style lies in that choice and arrangement of words which enables the reader to get the meaning with the least effort and the greatest interest.

Conciseness. Conciseness is the second essential of the style of the news story. This, again, does not mean that only the bare skeleton of news is required, for good news stories are clothed with flesh and blood to make them real and to give them human interest. Conciseness demands that not a single needless word shall be used, that every detail shall be necessary for the effectiveness of presentation, and that the length of the story shall be exactly proportionate to its interest and to its news value. If the reporter tests the value of each detail and can give a good reason for using it, he will not go far wrong as to the length of his story. If he can give an equally good reason for every word that he uses, his style is likely to have the desired conciseness.

Originality. Originality of expression in newspaper work is the quality that distinguishes the good writer from the fair and the mediocre ones. Constant rapid writing on similar subjects leads to the use of the same words and phrases over and over again. Trite, hackneyed expressions can be used with less effort and greater rapidity than is required to find new and fresh[Pg 63] phrases, unless the writer has accustomed himself to think clearly and accurately in concrete, specific terms. The only way that the newspaper writer can make his work rise above the level of the average is by seeing more in persons and events than does the ordinary reporter and by expressing what he sees with greater freshness and individuality. The classic bit of advice given by Flaubert to De Maupassant, the French master of the short story, is of the greatest value to the newspaper reporter who would cultivate in his style both conciseness and originality. It is in part as follows:

Everything which one desires to express must be looked at with sufficient attention, and during a sufficiently long time, to discover in it some aspect no one has as yet seen or described. The smallest object contains something unknown. Find it.

Whatever one wishes to say, there is only one noun to express it, only one verb to give it life, only one adjective to qualify it. Search, then, till that noun, that verb, that adjective are discovered; never be content with “very nearly”; never have recourse to tricks, however happy; or to buffooneries of language, to avoid a difficulty.

This is the way to become original.

Typographical “Style.” For such details of typographical “style” as capitalization, abbreviation, hyphenation, and use of numerical figures, every newspaper has a set of special rules, generally printed in a so-called “style book,” that are invariably followed by copy-readers and compositors. When a reporter begins work on a newspaper, he should study carefully all these peculiarities, so that he may follow them in preparing his copy. He also should learn as quickly as possible the paper’s printed style rules, or, if there are no printed rules, he should study the news stories as examples of the practice followed in the office. Some newspapers have an “index expurgatorius,” or list of words and[Pg 64] phrases to be avoided. These “don’ts” generally embody common errors of diction, but they not infrequently include also some pet aversions of the editor-in-chief, the managing editor, or the city editor, that are matters of preference rather than of good usage. Reporters will do well to observe carefully how their stories are changed by editors and copy-readers, and in all matters of style should make their work conform to the preferences of their superiors.

Paragraph Length. One of the distinctive peculiarities of newspaper style is the brevity of the paragraph. The width of newspaper columns permits about seven words in a line. The result is that a paragraph of the length usual in prose style generally, i.e., from 150 to 250 words, would occupy from 20 to 35 lines and would appear disproportionately long for its width. Paragraphs that are long, or appear to be so, make a piece of writing look solid and heavy, hence uninviting to the rapid reader. In newspaper work, accordingly, it has come to be recognized that shorter paragraphs are more effective. Paragraphs of from 50 to 150 words are considered the normal type for newspaper writing.

This means that often a paragraph, and particularly the first paragraph of a news story, consists of but one sentence. Paragraphs of two or three sentences are very frequent. A comparison of the structure of these short paragraphs with that of paragraphs in other kinds of prose, shows that what would be subdivisions, each with a sub-topic, in the common type of longer paragraphs, become independent paragraphs in newspaper style. The unity of the newspaper paragraph, therefore, is not less marked because of its brevity.

Sentence Length. Journalistic style has sometimes been said to be characterized by short, disconnected sentences that produce a choppy, staccato effect.[Pg 65] Kipling, for example, is often described as “journalistic” in his abrupt short-sentence style. As a matter of fact the style of the American news story is marked neither by distinctly short sentences nor by particularly abrupt transitions. The sentences in news stories, on the whole, are as long as those in modern English prose generally. The first sentence of the story, which gives the gist of the news contained, is many times from 50 to 75 words in length, and is therefore to be classed as decidedly long.

Emphatic Beginnings. The emphasis given by initial position is especially important in news stories. The beginning rather than the end is the most emphatic position. The reason is obvious. As the eye glances down the column in reading rapidly, the first group of words in each paragraph stands out prominently. Any climactic effect with the strongest emphasis at the end is lost to the rapid reader unless he follows the development of the thought from sentence to sentence to the close of the paragraph. The important element if placed at the end of a long sentence, likewise, loses its emphasis for a rapid reader.

This principle of emphasis at the beginning determines the structure of the news story. Into the first paragraph, as the place of greatest prominence, is put the most important part of the news. Into the first group of words of the first sentence of each paragraph is placed, if possible, the most significant idea of the paragraph. The least important details go to the latter part of the story, so that unless the reader is particularly interested he need not follow through the account to the end; and so that, if necessary, parts may be cut off entirely without causing any loss that will be evident. The fitting together into columns of stories of different lengths after they are in type often requires[Pg 66] that the last paragraph or paragraphs be cut off. This possibility adds to the importance of putting the least significant elements into the latter part of the story, and of concentrating the essentials at the beginning. It also requires that each paragraph be so rounded that it may serve as the end of the story if those following it have to be thrown away.

The “Lead.” The beginning, or “lead,” of the story is the part that requires the greatest skill in the choice, the arrangement, and the expression of the essential elements of the piece of news. Nowhere is it truer than in the news story that “Well begun is half done.” In the typical “lead” the reporter gives the reader in clear, concise, yet interesting form the gist of the whole story, emphasizing, or “playing up,” the “feature” of it that is most attractive. The “lead,” as the substance of the story, should tell the reader the nature of the event, the persons or things concerned, as well as the time, the place, the cause, and the result. These essential points are given in answer to the questions: What? Who? When? Where? Why? How?

The “lead” may consist of one paragraph or of several paragraphs according to the number and complexity of the details in the story. For short stories a one-paragraph “lead” consisting of a single sentence is often sufficient, because the gist of the news can be given in from 30 to 75 words. For a long, complex story consisting of several parts, each under a separate heading, an independent lead of a number of paragraphs may be written as a general introduction to the different parts. Usually, however, the lead is an integral part of the story, giving the substance of the news in a paragraph or two, in such form that all the rest of the story may be cut off without depriving the reader of any essential point.

[Pg 67]

“Playing up the Feature.” Before the reporter begins to write, he must determine what is the most significant and interesting phase of his piece of news; in other words, the “feature” of it. It is this phase that must be emphasized, “played up” or “featured,” as newspaper men say. As the “feature” of a piece of news is the most interesting phase of it, the reporter must apply to his raw materials of fact the tests of news values discussed in Chapter II. The element of his news, therefore, that will be of greatest interest to the greatest number as measured by these tests, he should select as the “feature.” In addition to the “feature” he must present all the important facts that are necessary to make clear the “feature” and its relation to the rest of the news of which it is a part.

In accordance with the principle of emphasis at the beginning of the paragraph, the “feature” of the story should be placed in the first group of words of the opening sentence of the lead. Although any of the essential points may be “played up,” some are less likely than others to deserve that emphasis. The time of the event, for example, is generally not a significant point in the story, and therefore stories should seldom begin with “Early this morning,” “At two o’clock this afternoon,” “Yesterday,” or similar unimportant phrases. Occasionally the exact hour of some action, such as the adjournment of Congress or of the state legislature, which has been anticipated but could not be definitely fixed in advance, has enough interest to warrant giving it the initial position in the lead. The names of persons should not be placed at the beginning unless they are sufficiently prominent to deserve this emphasis. When a man is not known to a number of readers, his name is of less interest than details of the news in which he is involved. Names of prominent persons, on the other hand, attract[Pg 68] the desired attention at the beginning of the story. The place of the event is generally indicated by the date line in telegraph news, and is not played up in local news stories except in unusual cases. News stories should not begin with “At 116 Western Avenue,” “In the lobby of the Manhattan Theatre,” “On the corner of Williams and Chestnut streets,” “Near the New York Central Station,” for rarely is the exact location the most important point. Peculiar or important causes, results, or circumstances are likely to be the best features, because, as has been said, unusual, curious, new phases of activities have the greatest interest for most readers. How each of the different essential elements of the lead may be given emphasis in the initial position is shown in the following examples:

The Time

At 3:30 this afternoon the session of the legislature came to an end when the senate adjourned sine die.

The Place

In the lion’s cage of Barnum’s circus was performed last night the marriage ceremony uniting Miss Ada Rene, trapezist, and Arthur Hunt, keeper of the lions, Justice of the Peace Henry Duplain officiating from a safe distance outside the cage.

The Name

Governor Wilkins denied the rumor today that he will call a special session of the legislature to consider the defects in the primary election law passed at the last session.

The Event

Fire completely destroyed the four-story warehouse of the Marburg Furniture Co., 914 Oxford Street, today, causing a loss of $30,000, covered by insurance.

[Pg 69]

The Cause

The desire to have maple syrup on his pancakes led to the capture of Oscar Norrie, who was arrested by Deputy United States Marshal Congdon this morning charged with desertion from the army. He was on his way from his mother’s home, 116 Easton Street, to the nearby grocery store to buy some syrup.

The Result

Twenty miners are entombed in the Indian Creek Coal Company’s main shaft as the result of an explosion early this morning which blocked up the entrance, but which did not, it is believed, extend to the part of the mine where the men imprisoned were at work.

The Significant Circumstance

Posing as a gas meter inspector, a thief gained access to the home of John C. Schmidt, 1416 Cherry Lane, yesterday afternoon, and carried off a gold watch and a pocketbook containing $20.

How to Begin. The grammatical form in which the feature is presented in the first group of words of the lead varies according to the character of the point to be emphasized. Some of the convenient types of beginning are: (1) the subject of the sentence, (2) a participial phrase, (3) a prepositional phrase, (4) an infinitive phrase, (5) a dependent clause, (6) a substantive clause, and (7) a direct quotation.

The subject of the sentence frequently contains the most telling idea of the lead and therefore occupies the emphatic position at the beginning, as in the following stories:

[Pg 70]


Three unknown bandits robbed a conductor on the Hartford and North Haven Electric Railroad at the Westlawn siding shortly before midnight, and secured about $25. One of the robbers covered the motorman with a revolver while the other two went through the pockets of the conductor. No passengers were in the car.


Government ownership of telegraph lines is urged by Postmaster-General Hitchcock in his annual report made to Congress today.


Fire of unknown origin damaged the four story warehouse of Louis Berowitz & Co., wholesale wine dealers, 131 Arlington Court, early this morning, causing a loss of $5,000.


Vivid blue and green lights playing about Brooklyn Bridge led early risers to believe that the structure was on fire. A broken live wire coming in contact with a steel girder, electricians found, was responsible for the unexpected illumination.

A participial phrase, as the first group of words, is often a convenient form in which to “play up” a significant feature. The participle must always modify the subject of the sentence. The “hanging” or “dangling” participle which does not modify the subject, and the participle used substantively as the subject, are faults to be avoided. The effective use of the participial phrase is shown in the following leads:—


Speeding homeward from Europe to see their daughter who is ill in Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Spraugton arrived here on the Mauretania this morning and an hour later were on board an 18-hour train for Chicago.

[Pg 71]


Run down by her own automobile which she was cranking, Dr. Kate Mather, 151 97th Street, was seriously injured last night, near St. Luke’s Hospital.


Accused of embezzling $4,700 from the Erie Trust Company, John Fletcher, a bookkeeper employed by the company for three years, was arrested this morning.


While demonstrating a patent fire escape of his own invention, Oscar Winkel, a machinist, 1718 Amsterdam Avenue, fell from the second story of the apartment house at that number, and escaped with a broken arm and a dislocated shoulder.

Prepositional phrases, either adjective or adverbial, may be used to bring out an emphatic detail; for example:


With a million coal miners striking in England, with nearly a million out in Germany today, and with the prospect of a walk-out in France tomorrow, the coal supply of Europe will be seriously affected.


By sliding down three stories on a rope fire-escape, John Wilcox, wanted in New York for forgery, eluded City Detectives Dillingham and Bronson last night, while they were trying to gain access to his room in the Western House.


In the guise of a postoffice inspector, a bandit gained access to the mail car on the Occidental Limited of the Western Pacific Railroad, and after overpowering the clerks, rifled the registered mail sacks.

[Pg 72]

Infinitive phrases may be employed to advantage, as in the following cases:


To rescue his three-year-old son from death when his own home burned yesterday afternoon, fell to the lot of John Morrissey, of Engine 14, when, with his company, of which he was temporarily in charge, he responded to an alarm of fire from Box 976, near his home at 161 10th Street.


To prevent private monopoly of the water powers of the state, Senator H. G. Waters introduced a bill into the senate this noon providing for the purchase or control by the state of desirable sites for the development of water power.

Causal, concessive, conditional, and temporal clauses at the beginning of a story make possible the desired emphasis in an effective form; for example:


Because a multiplex money-making machine failed to transform tissue paper into crisp dollar bills, Jacob Montrid yesterday afternoon swore out a warrant for the arrest of Isaac Rosenbaum, 116 East Broadway, who had sold him the machine for $800.


Although Senator Cameron again refused yesterday to say that he would be a candidate for reëlection, his opponents claim that he has been planning a systematic campaign in his district for several weeks.


Unless the $150,000 guarantee fund for the democratic national convention Is raised before tomorrow night, the executive committee of the Commercial Club will not extend an invitation to the national democratic committee to hold the convention in this city next July.

[Pg 73]


While a surgeon was dressing a bullet wound in his arm at Williamstown Hospital, George Johnson, colored, was placed under arrest by Detectives Gilchrist and Hennessey, charged with shooting and seriously wounding Frank F. Taylor, a colored barber, 117 Washington Place.

A substantive clause as subject of the first sentence of the story is often convenient, particularly for an indirect quotation in reports of speeches, interviews, testimony, etc. The different forms available are shown in the following leads:


How the Standard Oil Company grew from a firm with $4,000 capital in 1867 to a $2,000,000 corporation in 1875, was told this morning by John D. Rockefeller in the course of the direct examination conducted by his attorney, John G. Milburn, in the suit for the dissolution of the Standard Oil Trust before Special Examiner Franklin Ferris in the Custom House.


Why the United States needs an income tax, was explained by Senator William E. Borah in his address before the Progressive Republican Club in the Auditorium last night.


That the United States government should operate a number of coal mines in Alaska and that it should take as its share approximately 25 per cent of the net profits on all coal development by private lease on the public domain in the territory, was the plan offered today by Senator Hitchcock of Nebraska, a member of the territories committee which is hearing the Alaska railroad testimony.

[Pg 74]

A direct quotation at the beginning is the means of getting before the reader at once the important statement of a speech, report, interview, confession, etc. The following examples and those given in the discussion of reports of speeches and interviews in Chapter VI illustrate the effective use of the quotation.


“I took the shoes so that my little girl could go to school on Monday,” was the defense that John Hoppiman offered in the Police Court this morning when charged with stealing a pair of shoes from the Palace Shoe Company’s store on Eagle Street last night.


“No cigarettes sold to minors” is the sign conspicuously posted in all places where tobacco is sold, because the new ordinance recently passed by the board of aldermen went into effect today.

Beginnings to be Avoided. The rule that a news story should never begin with the articles “a,” “an,” or “the,” is neither supported by actual newspaper practice nor based on entirely sound principles. Good emphasis at the beginning is what such a rule strives to secure and in so far as it calls attention to the desirability of beginning the story with an important word in place of an article, it is justified. Often, however, in order to get the most significant element into the first group of words it is absolutely necessary to use one of the articles. Sometimes an article is unnecessary before the noun at the beginning; for example: “Fire destroyed,” etc., is more concise than, “A fire destroyed,” etc., and, “Government ownership of telegraph lines was urged,” than, “The government ownership of telegraph lines was urged.”

[Pg 75]

Numerical figures should not be used at the beginning of any sentence in a news story. To avoid putting the figures first when round numbers are given, such forms may be used as, “About 250 students,” “Over 1,200 chickens,” “Nearly 750 gallons of milk.” If it is considered desirable to have numbers at the very beginning, they may be spelled out, thus: “Three thousand citizens greeted,” etc., “Two hundred pounds of candy were strewn along Broadway,” etc.

Explanatory Matter. In the lead of all stories of events that are closely associated with preceding events, such as “follow-up” stories, it is customary to give briefly sufficient explanatory information to make the event described clear in its relations to the earlier ones. This is necessary because readers may have overlooked the stories of the preceding occurrences. An explanatory phrase or clause is generally sufficient, but sometimes a whole sentence is necessary.

Unconventional Leads. In place of the usual summary lead containing all the essential points of the event, some stories begin with the particulars leading up to the event and thus keep the reader in suspense as to the nature and result of the happening until he has read the greater part of the story. These stories in their structure approximate fictitious narratives such as the short story. Various forms of beginnings that depart from the normal summary lead are illustrated by the following examples:


Half a dozen clerks were standing near the big vault in the Chelsea National Bank this afternoon, their backs toward the street.

A blinding flash filled them with terror, and taking it for granted that another earthquake had visited the[Pg 76] city, they jumped into the big vault and shut the door.

When they tried to get out they could not. Some time later when the cashier saw the door closed, he opened it and found the clerks nearly smothered.

A Wilson banner, soaked with rain, had fallen across a trolley wire and caused the flash.


“What time is it, please?” asked an innocent looking blond boy in short trousers of Harry G. Lampe on the steps of his hotel at 101 Johnson Street last night.

“I haven’t a watch,” said Lampe politely. The boy pulled one out and explained that it was 7:30, whereupon they fell into a conversation and Lampe went upstairs in great good humor, only to come running down again. Two sets of false teeth were gone from his back trousers pocket—all the teeth he had in the world.

The boy was seen talking to a group of men and was taken to the White Street station.

Strange to relate, Sergeant William McCarthy, until recently a marine in the Washington Navy Yard, was there explaining to the desk lieutenant how a blond haired boy had just asked to carry his suit-case containing clothes, discharge papers from a twenty-three years’ army service, and medals for bravery.

“Sure, he said he’d show me a good hotel and we came to a doorway that was dark. Just like that the wallops came, and me not being able to see who was hitting me. They took my bag and my watch and when I got up and felt for my purse they grabbed that, too; $140 was in it.” The door opened on the stealer of teeth. “That’s him, B’ George!”

So it happened that the child stood before Magistrate Hinton in the[Pg 77] Tombs court today on two charges of larceny.

“Stand up,” said the court, and noting everything, blond curls downward, pronounced: “You are a most interesting psychological and sociological study, sir.”

Detective De Groat said that the youth worked for a gang as Oliver Twist once did. Despite his youth and apparent innocence, therefore, he was held in $2,500 bail for the Grand Jury.


Two men knocked on the door of Mrs. Mary Martin’s apartment at 210 Easton Place yesterday afternoon and said they had come to fix the gas meter. Mrs. Martin through the keyhole told them to go right away, but they kicked down the door instead and walked in.

The woman got out on the fire escape and yelled for help, while the men put the parlor clock in a bag and rummaged about in search of money.

Policeman Cox answered Mrs. Martin’s call for help and ran upstairs. The men heard him coming and scrambled out of a skylight to the roof. Cox followed, but the two had disappeared.

In their flight, however, they spilled a bag of flour over their clothes, and so when Policeman Cox, two hours later, saw two men with their shoulders white with flour, carrying a bag down First Avenue, he arrested them.

Mrs. Martin identified the men as William Kelley and James Hammond, and said they had both lived in the house where her apartment is.

They were locked up on a charge of burglary.


Mary Hand, 7 years old, who was run down by a mail automobile last night in Third Avenue at Seventy-fourth Street, said she wasn’t hurt and asked to go home.

[Pg 78]

“Please don’t arrest that man,” she added, pointing to the driver; “he didn’t mean to hurt me.” So Policeman O’Reilley took the chauffeur’s name and address, Henry P. Miller, 117 Walnut Street, and let him go on his way with the mail.

The policeman insisted on sending Mary to the hospital though she wasn’t scratched. She had been there just one hour when she died. The hospital folk said they couldn’t account for it, except by undetected internal injuries that she might have sustained.

The little girl was the daughter of John Hand, 214 East Holton Avenue. On hearing of her death the police at once began a search for Miller, the chauffeur.

Another example of this type of story that follows the chronological order instead of beginning with a summary of the facts, is the following from the New York Sun, in which it was printed at the top of a column on the first page:

Tom Flynn, a coal passer who works next to the Fort Lee Ferry over on the Jersey side, was gazing dreamily out over the Hudson early yesterday morning. Suddenly he dropped his shovel and let out a wild yell.

“Gee whiz, look Bill!” he said to his fellow worker. “There’s a deer out there on the ice.”

About 200 feet off shore a red doe was floating down stream, poised on a large cake of ice. Pretty soon another cake drifted along and jostled the doe’s floe and she slid gracefully into the water and started for shore.

Flynn gave the alarm, and although this is not the open season in New Jersey, the game laws were disregarded and in a few minutes fifty odd deckhands, ticket takers, and commuters were engaged in a deer hunt.[Pg 79] Boat hooks, brooms, and shovels were immediately pressed into service, and the excited crowd waited for the deer to come ashore.

When the doe saw them she changed her direction, veering toward the ferry-boat Englewood, which is hibernating in the Edgewater slip, and took refuge in the lee of the paddle wheel. Having rested, the deer swam out into open water, headed directly for the ferry slip and splashed merrily about below the astonished crowd of amateur stalkers. Someone got a rope and attempted to noose the animal, but she couldn’t see it that way, calmly ducked and continued to cavort about in the water.

Finally the doe became bored, dove under the edge of the slip, and was lost to sight momentarily. She then appeared on the other side of the ferry house. Before the crowd could reach her, she scrambled ashore opposite Terry Terhune’s Dairy Lunch, looked wonderingly into Gantert Bros,’ thirst quenching parlors, dashed up Dempsey Avenue and with a whisk of her tail disappeared up the mountain beyond Palisade Park.

“Well, suffering Jumbo!” said Tom Flynn, “these guys don’t know nothing about deer catching,” and he went sadly back to his coal car.

Several weeks ago three deer escaped from the Harriman preserves up the river, and the doe of yesterday’s chase is supposed to be one of them.

Originality in the treatment of the ordinary material of a news story is illustrated in the following beginning of a report of a conference on rural problems.

The little red schoolhouse and the big yellow ear of corn, how to develop each and how to correlate their interests, was the problem discussed yesterday afternoon by a committee[Pg 80] of the Wisconsin Bankers’ association and a number of distinguished educators and public officials. After the meeting at agricultural hall was over, it was apparent that the problem of the big ear of corn was in a fair way of solution, but the little red schoolhouse still remained an enigma.

The various speakers painted glowing pictures of how two ears of corn could be made to grow where one or none is growing now, and how farm life could be beautified and uplifted so that the boys and girls would quit rushing to the cities to add to the poverty of the nation and would remain on the soil to add to the country’s wealth. How to hook the country schoolhouse on this uplift movement did not seem so easy. The various educators present who knew something of the problem it presented, smiled at the altruistic simplicity of the bankers in taking up the problem and were loud in their praise of the monied men for so doing. The bankers could count on co-operation, they said.

The meeting was an informal conference between the committee on agricultural development and education of the Wisconsin Bankers’ association and other organized activities along allied lines, and was held in a classroom of agricultural hall. L. A. Baker, of New Richmond, chairman of the committee, presided.

How a bit of police court news may be worked up into a story the lead of which piques the reader’s curiosity, is shown in the following story from the New York Sun:

It took only two eggs in the hands of Annie Gallagher, a cook, buxom and blond, to spoil a sunset. That is why Annie was in the West Side police court yesterday. She had been summoned by Jacob Yourowski.

Yourowski, who is a sign painter, works at 355 Columbus avenue, next door to 64 West Seventy-second street, where Annie is employed. He was painting a sunset as a background for an advertising sign last Monday when the trouble began.

“I was on the ladder,” he told Magistrate Steinert, “when I was struck by some eggshells. I watched the open window where this woman is employed and pretty soon I saw her peeking out. At first I took it as a joke.”

“Pretty soon there were some more shells. I caught her looking out the window. So in a playful manner I made believe to throw back at her.”

“Judge, then the eggs came at me strong. They weren’t only shells; they had the goods. Pretty soon my sunset looked like an omelet. Then I got mad.”

“Yes,” interrupted Annie, “and in his anger he threw ice in the window at me. One piece struck me and hurt me. Then I got mad and dumped the hot water on him.”

The cook was held in $300 bonds to insure future good behavior.

Another example of an opening that stimulates the reader’s desire to know more of an unusual incident is seen in the following story:

If it hadn’t been for a woman’s curiosity Wadislaus Brinko, who owns a Lithuanian rooming house at 231 East Hain street, wouldn’t have confessed to the police yesterday that he shot and killed Jacob Watus, a roomer in his house, on Oct. 23.

A coroner’s inquest was proceeding in a routine way the day following the shooting and the jury was about to render a verdict of death by suicide, when Mrs. Anna Hannok, 416 Highland place, appeared on the scene. She had been attracted by the crowd outside the undertaking rooms, she said.

[Pg 82]The testimony up to the time of Mrs. Hannok’s appearance had plainly indicated suicide. Suddenly she electrified the jury by pointing to Brinko and crying:

“Ask him where he got the gun.”

The inquiry, interrupted by this dramatic incident, was adjourned until yesterday. Shortly before the inquest was resumed, Brinko broke down and admitted that he had killed Watus. He asserted, however, that it was an accident.

Distinctive beginnings which are also calculated to attract attention by reason of the question form are shown in the following stories taken from the Chicago Tribune:


Have you lost a $1,000 bill?

No, this isn’t a joke; have you?

Somebody was so careless as to drop a $1,000 bill in the lobby of the Majestic Theatre on Friday afternoon. And if some theatre-goer had held his head a trifle lower he might have seen the currency and not stepped on it.

The bill was dropped near the box office as the audience was entering the house for the matinee. Just when it fell to the tile floor and how long it was kicked around nobody knows. Herbert Klein, the doorman, happened to glance at the floor and saw a piece of paper. Persons were walking over it. He took another look and then he reached for it. Walking back to the door where the light was better he slyly took a peek at it. He saw the big yellow “M” and whistled. He hurried to the office of A. S. Rivers, treasurer of the theatre. He did not wait for the elevator.

Mr. Rivers placed the $1,000 bill in the vault, where he thinks $1,000 bills belong. He was somewhat surprised yesterday when there was no inquiry for the money. Then he became suspicious. Thinking the bill might be[Pg 83] one of the notes of the $173,000 in government money that disappeared from the Chicago subtreasury two years ago, he notified Capt. Thomas I. Porter and Peter Drautzberg of the secret service bureau.

The number of the bill was sent to the treasury department at Washington. It is not known whether the government possesses the numbers of the $1,000 bills which were missed from the subtreasury.


“Shall we shoot old preachers?”

Several aged ministers attending the Rock River conference at the First Methodist Church of Evanston sat bolt upright in their seats last evening when Rev. George P. Eckman, editor of the Christian Advocate of New York, asked the question. They blinked hard and in unison when he repeated it.

“Shall we shoot old preachers?”

A general sigh of relief was heard when he offered his explanation.

“We might as well shoot them,” he said, “as let them starve on the pitiably small incomes which some of them have. Shooting them would be more humane. They have served long and useful lives. Why should their last days be spent in want and suffering?”

Rev. Eckman was the principal speaker at the anniversary of the Society for Superannuated Preachers. He dwelt at length on the increasing hardships that confront the preacher who has grown too old to perform active service.


Who is responsible for the collapse of the Pearl Theatre in Western avenue?

Who permitted the construction of a roof which the results show was a menace to the lives of many people[Pg 84] from the time the theatre was opened?

How much of the blame is on the city building department?

How much blame attaches to the city council?

How about the architect and the owner of the theatre?

How many other Chicago theatres—picture theatres and theatres of various types—are as dangerous potentially as was the Pearl theatre?

Questions such as these will be met by the council committee on buildings, which tomorrow will take up an inquiry into the Pearl 5-cent theatre case. The roof of the Pearl, Western avenue and Downey street, caved in last Monday morning and a disaster was averted because no show was in progress at the time.

A type of lead that has some vogue has a very short first sentence that usually states the most significant fact in the story. This short statement may be followed by a longer explanatory one that contains the other essential details, or by a series of short sentences each of which contains an important detail. This kind of lead is in reality only the breaking up of the long one-sentence lead containing all the essentials, into two or more shorter sentences. Greater emphasis is thus gained for the particulars set off in the short sentences. Examples of these leads are:


Col. Roosevelt is back. He spoke tonight at Madison Square Garden to 15,000 people. They cheered him for forty-two minutes.

There was no indication throughout this storm of applause that it was anything but spontaneous. It was directed at Col. Roosevelt himself.


The “fatherless frog” is in Washington. He arrived here this morning. He has two big bulging green[Pg 85] eyes, a big white throat, and for all the world looks just the same as millions of his brothers who occupy thrones on lily pads in some muddy creek. According to Prof. Jacques Loeb of the Rockefeller Institute of Research, however, this particular Mr. Frog, on exhibition before the Congress of Hygiene and Demography here, was hatched from the egg of a female by chemical process.

While visitors are greatly interested in this orphan frog, learned professors are busy challenging his chemical parentage.

Professor Loeb says that his fatherless frog is the culmination of years of effort and that with but little more study he will be able to produce other forms of life resulting from his study of parthenogenesis.

In the less conventional types of leads, various beginnings are used, often to excellent advantage, for novelty and variety. The two examples given below show some marked departures from the usual kinds of beginnings.




By this sign displayed to-day in an optical shop in Fifth Avenue, a dealer in binoculars, who is weary of explaining that he is not responsible for unsatisfactory views of Halley’s comet, hopes to make plain his position to customers that desire to return their purchases.


WANTED—Young woman as governess for ten year old child, to travel through Europe this summer. Give references, age, and experience. Address E 740, Times Office.

This[Pg 86] innocent looking advertisement in the Times led to the arrest of William Houghton, alias Wilson Hulton, at the National Hotel yesterday afternoon on the charge of swindling Miss Fannie Hopkins, Denver, out of $200 last month, by means of a similarly alluring advertisement in the Denver papers.

“Boxed” Summaries. To give greater prominence to interesting statistics, summaries, excerpts, and lists than is possible in the lead, these facts are often put before the regular lead, usually surrounded by a frame or “box,” and printed in black face type. Although this arrangement is determined by the editors and copy readers, the reporter may select and group significant facts in such a way that those who edit his copy can readily mark them to be “boxed” and set in the desired kind of type. Lists of dead and injured in accidents; telling statements from speeches, reports, or testimony; statistics of interest; summaries of facts; and brief histories of events connected with the news story at hand, are frequently treated in this way. If not placed before the lead, these “boxed” facts are put at a convenient place in the body of the story. Brief bulletins, likewise, containing the latest news are often “boxed” and set in heavier type.


Elevator B $300,000
Wheat, 377,000 bu. 403,390
Flax, 227,000 bu. 274,670
Barley, 7,000 bu. 3,360
Western Pacific Dock    30,000
 Total Loss $1,011,420

Over a million dollars’ worth of property on South Point was consumed[Pg 87] within two hours yesterday afternoon when fire destroyed Elevator B of the Northern Elevator Company and the dock of the Western Pacific Railroad Company, and imperiled surrounding property valued at another million.



Repudiation of Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act.

Non-Partisan Tariff Commission.

Government Regulation of Monopolies.

Taxation of Water Powers.

Conservation of Natural Resources.

National Income Tax.

Limited Hours of Labor for Women and Children.

Popular Election of U. S. Senators.

Employers’ Liability Laws.

Workingmen’s Compensation Acts.

With the adoption of a strong platform on state and national issues, the Republican State Convention came to a close late last night.



They have accentuated American wit.

They have added to American tenderness.

They have perhaps instilled in the American a little additional pugnacity.

They have increased his poetic imagination.

They have made him more of an optimist.

They have suffused his whole existence with the spirit of kindly humor.

Eight hundred members of the Charitable Irish Society gave President Taft a notable ovation at their 175th annual dinner held at the Hotel Somerset last night.

[Pg 88]



The Killed

Muckly, Mrs. Theresa, 47 years, cook, 1916 Flushing Avenue.

Flesner, Jacob, 26 years, machinist, 2717 Hawthorn Street.

Block, Marie, 16 years, cash girl, 616 Parkway.

The Injured

Claxton, Mary, 10 years, 1414 Cedar Street, broken nose, scalp wounds, St. Mary’s Hospital.

Shumacher, Mrs. Ida, 42 years, 191 12th Avenue, right arm broken, internal injuries, St. Mary’s Hospital.

Perkins, Charles, 31 years, 157 Washington Street, dislocated hip, scalp cut, Roosevelt Hospital.

Three passengers were killed, three seriously injured, and a dozen more badly shaken up when a south bound trolley car on the Wellington Park line crashed into one ahead that had stopped to take in passengers, at Fifty-second Avenue and Howard Place last night.

The Body of the Story. Following the lead is the body of the story, which generally consists of a more or less detailed account of the event. The main part of the report usually presents the incidents in the order in which they took place. In choice and arrangement of particulars, therefore, it does not differ from narration in general. As in all narration, so in news stories, it is essential to pick out those particulars that are most interesting and most significant in relation to the feature of the news. If the details are arranged in chronological order and this order is made evident by means of connective words and phrases, the reader can follow the account easily from beginning to end.

All of the methods used by writers of fiction to make[Pg 89] short stories and novels realistic and attractive may be applied to the writing of news. Concise descriptive touches that suggest the picture rather than portray it by detailed description, are always effective. Accounts of eye-witnesses, exclamations and remarks made by the bystanders, comments by those concerned, dialogue between persons involved, when given in the form of direct quotations, all add to the life and interest of the story. Every legitimate literary device can be used to advantage in the writing of the day’s news, provided that it does not require too much space, for above everything else the news story must be concise.

Good emphasis at the beginning of each paragraph should always be sought, because in rapid reading, as has already been pointed out, the eye catches first the initial group of words at each indention. Unimportant connective phrases and clauses should seldom be given this position of prominence, but should be buried in the sentence. The emphasis at the end of each paragraph in the news story is not great and can therefore be disregarded. Although each paragraph need not end emphatically, it should be rounded out to give the effect of completeness.

The organization of details in the body of a story is shown in the account of a train robbery given below:

Spokane, Wash., March 15—In the guise of a postoffice inspector, a bandit obtained admittance to the postal car on the Great Northern Oriental Limited at Bonners Ferry, Idaho, early this morning, and after overpowering the two clerks, calmly rifled the through registered mail pouches while the train was proceeding to Spokane.

During the run of over 100 miles to Spokane, the robber received the mail at three stations where the train[Pg 90] stopped and threw off the newspaper mail.

Just before the train entered the yards here, the bandit leaped from the car and, with the booty in a small satchel, made his escape. It is not known how much money and valuables the bandit obtained, but it is supposed he got a big haul. Six registered mail sacks were cut and their contents rifled.

When the train reached this city, John Wilson, one of the postal clerks, was found locked in the clothes closet, while Henry Devine, the other, was under the table with a jumper drawn over his head and his arms tightly bound with a rope. It was then that the story of the robbery was learned.

When the train stopped at Bonners Ferry at four o’clock this morning, a man came to the door of the postal car, and throwing in a mail sack and a small satchel, announced that he was R. F. Burton, a postoffice inspector.

“I will return in a few minutes and ride with you to Spokane,” he said to Wilson, the clerk on duty. Devine, the other, was asleep under the table that was covered with mail sacks.

After the man left the car, Wilson awoke Devine, and told him that an inspector was to ride with them to this city, and that he, Wilson, would awaken him again shortly.

Just before the train started from the Idaho town, the man entered the car again. “Is there any mail for me?” he inquired of the clerk. “There ought to be some. Please look.”

Wilson looked over some mail and when he turned around to inform the supposed inspector that there was none, he found a big revolver pointed at his head.

The robber, after warning the clerk to make no outcry, ordered him to[Pg 91] get into the clothes closet, which is scarcely large enough to permit a man to stand erect.

Ignorant of the robbery that was going on in the car, Devine continued to sleep. Finally when the train was leaving Big Bend, Devine awoke and, looking up from underneath the table, saw the stranger opening letters.

As Devine crawled out, the bandit whipped out a revolver from his overcoat pocket.

“Keep quiet, or I’ll blow your head off,” he commanded.

The robber then threw a jumper over the clerk’s head, bound his hands behind him, and pushed him under the table where he had been asleep.

When a story covers considerable time because the incidents leading up to the principal event took place a week or more before, care must be taken to keep the time element before the readers in order to make the series of incidents clear in their relation to one another. The following story shows the arrangement of material in such a story:

Because he unknowingly tried to swindle the same young woman twice within three weeks by means of a “want ad,” Arthur M. Howell, who says his home is in Yukon, Alaska, was arrested at the Hixon Hotel last night. The similarity of a “want ad” in the Sun a few days ago to one in a Denver paper recently, led Miss Emma Bunde of Denver, who had been swindled out of $280, to notify the local police, and through her efforts Howell was placed under arrest.

When, three weeks ago, an advertisement appeared in the Denver paper for a young woman to act as secretary to a business man during a three months’ trip through Europe, Miss Emma Bunde, then a stenographer in a railroad office in Denver,[Pg 92] answered it, offering her services. In reply to her application, Howell arranged a meeting with her and engaged her for the position.

At her new employer’s suggestion, she withdrew her savings amounting to $280 from one of the Denver banks, and accompanied him to Kansas City. When they arrived there, he offered to take her money for safe keeping and she entrusted the whole amount to him. At the same time he gave her $25, as an advance payment on her salary, and told her that they would continue their journey that afternoon after he had transacted some business.

When she returned to the hotel after a shopping tour in which she had bought a dress for $22.50, she found a note from her employer, which informed her that he had been suddenly called to Columbia, Mo., on business. A railroad ticket and sleeping car reservation were enclosed with the note which requested her to proceed to St. Louis that night and meet him the following day at a hotel in St. Louis.

Miss Bunde went to St. Louis and awaited the arrival of Howell at the hotel designated. After waiting in vain for a week, she decided that she was the victim of a clever swindling game. Being without funds she wrote to friends here and with their aid came to this city.

In looking through the “want ads” in the Sun last Friday, she came upon an advertisement for a young woman secretary to accompany a business man on a tour throughout the states and Alaska. The similarity of this “ad” and that which she had answered in Denver, led her to inform the police of her suspicion that the author was the same person who had taken her money. Detectives were at once detailed to watch for Howell when he called for replies to his advertisement at the Sun office.

The[Pg 93] young woman in reply to the advertisement again offered her services as secretary, giving a fictitious name but her real telephone number. The advertiser failed to call for his mail for nearly a week, and the detectives abandoned their watch. Then on Wednesday Howell called at the Sun office where he found twenty letters, including the one from Miss Bunde.

Unfortunately for the swindler, the first letter that he opened was evidently Miss Bunde’s, for he called her up Wednesday afternoon and made an appointment at the Hixon Hotel for last evening.

She at once notified the police and Detective Sullivan was detailed to accompany her to the hotel. When Howell appeared and recognized Miss Bunde as his Denver victim, he endeavored to leave but was arrested by Sullivan.

At the police station he gave his address as Yukon, Alaska. In his pockets were found letters from several Kansas City women who had replied to his advertisements in that city, and the police believe that he is wanted in other places on similar charges.


  1. Write legibly; use a typewriter whenever possible.
  2. Double or triple space your typewritten or longhand copy.
  3. Never write on both sides of the sheet.
  4. Make your meaning absolutely clear to the rapid reader.
  5. Be concise; don’t use needless words.
  6. Use superlatives sparingly.
  7. Find the one noun to express the idea, the one adjective, if necessary, to qualify it, and the one verb needed to give it life.
  8. Get life and action into your story whenever circumstances warrant.
  9. Use original expressions; avoid trite and hackneyed phrases.[Pg 94]
  10. Remember that every one of your mistakes adds to the work of your superiors.
  11. Study and follow the peculiarities of the style of your paper.
  12. Make your paragraphs short and concise.
  13. Avoid choppy, disconnected short sentences.
  14. Don’t overload the first sentence by elaborating on the essential points.
  15. Select the most interesting phase of the news as the “feature” of the story.
  16. Put the “feature” in the first group of words at the beginning of the lead.
  17. Answer satisfactorily in the “lead” the questions—Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?
  18. Seldom “play up” the time or place as the feature.
  19. Avoid the hanging, or dangling, participle, particularly at the beginning of the lead.
  20. Don’t put important particulars of the story in the last paragraphs where they may be cut off in the “make-up.”
  21. Avoid beginning successive paragraphs with the same phrase or construction.
  22. Use an unconventional form of “lead” when the news justifies it.
  23. Tabulate on a separate sheet significant statistics, lists, excerpts, or summaries, so that they may be “boxed.”
  24. Don’t suppress news; refer all requests for such suppression to your superiors.
  25. Put the mark (#), or the figures 30 enclosed in a circle, at the end of every story.


(1) Point out the faults in the following story and correct them by rewriting it.

Suspected of starting over a score of fires in the downtown district within a month and confessing starting nineteen, with six[Pg 95] false alarms in three months, Henry Handifort, a South Side boy, was arrested after a fire early today.

In a confession to the police Handifort, who is 16 years of age, said he began his career as a firebug when 5 years old, but after starting three fires was so punished by his parents that he refrained from further operations until a few months ago. He said his ambition was to be a fireman and that he started the fires to be on hand when the firemen came so he could help them. He said he enjoyed seeing the apparatus turn out.

The fires to which he confessed caused a total loss of $25,000. His climax came Sunday night, when three fires caused $8,000 loss. The boy, then under suspicion, was watched carefully, and a fire early today brought his arrest.

(2) What are the faults in the following story printed in a weekly paper, and how should they be corrected in rewriting?

Mr. Ed. Williams of this city met with a very severe and painful accident in the zinc works in this city.

Mr. Williams, who is employed as a cart driver at the works, was performing his usual duties, when in some way the horse became frightened and started to run away. Ed was thrown out of the heavy ore cart and fell in such a position, that the wheels of the cart passed over his body, causing severe injuries to his head and fracturing four ribs, besides bruising him internally. He was at once taken to the hospital rooms of Dr. Hulton, where his injuries were dressed. He was then conveyed to his home, where he is recovering nicely at present. It will be some time however before he will be at his post again.

(3) What is the weakness of the following story and how could you improve it by rewriting?

Mrs. William Black, wife of the caretaker of the Yewdale Yacht Club house, which is on the end of the long bulkhead of the South Basin at the foot of Ring street, Lawton Park, sent her eleven-year-old daughter, Madelaine, to Dresden Avenue yesterday morning to get some oranges.

Mrs. Black sat by an upper window of the club house waiting for Madelaine to come back. Pretty soon the little girl put in an appearance. The wind was blowing so hard that the mother feared for the child’s safety and she arose to go to her assistance. When she looked out of the window again, Madelaine had disappeared. She hurried out and saw the child’s cloak floating on the water.

Charles Blaine, a sailor on the yacht Elizabeth E., and Otto Grey of the schooner John Bull, dived for the body several times before Blaine succeeded in bringing it up.

The child’s father is on a fishing trip to Block Island.

[Pg 96]

(4) Play up the unusual element in this story by putting it in the first group of words.

Mrs. Minnie Greene, a colored janitress, was burned to the point of death by a fire started by the son’s rays focused by a large reflector which she carried. Mrs. Greene, with the big brass reflector under her arm, was standing in front of the First Presbyterian church when suddenly she felt a sharp pain in her left leg. Looking down she saw that her skirt was afire. Screaming in terror she ran down the street and in and out of three stores before she could be stopped by two policemen. It is not believed that she can recover.

(5) Compare the leads of the two following stories of the same event, pointing out their merits and defects; then write a new lead embodying the best points of each.


Princeton, N.J., Nov. 3—Governor Woodrow Wilson had a narrow escape from serious injury at an early hour this morning when the automobile in which he was returning home from Red Bank ran into a rut in the main street leading into the little village of Hightstown, throwing him with great force against the top of the limousine, inflicting a painful cut in the top of his head.

When he appeared in his library this afternoon to meet many callers and the newspaper men the governor wore across the top of his head a broad plaster bandage, covering part of the scalp that had been shaved when the cut was dressed.

Captain “Silent Bill” McDonald, the Texas ranger traveling companion of the governor, received a severe jolt, but escaped any other injury than a bruise on his neck.


Princeton, N.J., Nov. 3—Gov. Woodrow Wilson wears a strip of collodion and gauze across the top of his head covering a scalp wound three inches long which he received early on Sunday in a motor mishap on the way home from Red Bank, N.J. His automobile struck a mound in the road and jolted him up against a steel rib in the roof of the limousine car.

The wound is not serious and the democratic presidential nominee will fulfill his speaking engagements in Paterson and Passaic, N.J., on Monday.

At night the governor was in the parlor of his home the center of a group of friends. There was nothing in his manner to indicate that he had met with any mishap. He said he did not feel the wound in the slightest degree and had not even developed a headache from it.

“I guess I’m too hardheaded to be hurt,” he said smilingly as he received the correspondents.

[Pg 97]

The mishap occurred in the early hours of the morning. The governor had spoken at Red Bank and left for Princeton, a distance of forty-five miles, shortly before 11 o’clock. He rode in the limousine car of Abraham I. Elkus, a New York lawyer who lives at Red Bank, accompanied by Capt. William J. McDonald, his personal body guard, who was shaken up and bruised.

(6) Criticize the following story and rewrite it in accordance with your criticism.

Another hero of the sea was disclosed today through a collision of the Norwegian steamer Noreuga with the Norwegian sailing ship Glenlui. It appeared that he saved, not only the passengers and crews, but the ships.

The Noreuga arrived at Norfolk last night in a sinking condition in tow of the revenue cutter Onondaga and is preparing to dock. The Glenlui is expected later.

The Noreuga will be repaired at the Newport News ship yards, where its eleven passengers, including eight women, and its freight will be transferred to the steamship Mexicana. The passengers were brought to port on the Onondaga.

The man to whom credit is given is the wireless operator on the Noreuga who declined to tell his name and whose desire to avoid notoriety was respected by Captain Hansen.

When the crew favored deserting the stricken Noreuga after the collision last Friday the wireless operator refused to leave his post. With death riding the gale he continued to flash his appeals for help. He succeeded finally in raising both shore stations and vessels of the Atlantic fleet. The rescue of the Norse vessels was accomplished as they were about to founder.

(7) From the following account, as given by an eye-witness, write a news story for a local daily paper.

John Quinn, foreman of the E. J. Mackey Co., 356 W. 40th St., gave the following account of an accident in his plant this noon:

“I was working on the fifth floor of our new six story warehouse just before dinner time today when Oscar Taub who lives out at 216 W. 139th St., one of the men who works for us, came up and said that Mr. Mackey wanted him to find out how much whiskey there was in the big tank on my floor. Taub put a ladder against the side of the big tank and, catching hold of the cord of one of the electric lights, started up to the top of the tank. When he got up to the top he called to me saying that there were 7,705 gallons of whiskey in it. When he started down the ladder again, the bulb of the electric light slipped from his hand and broke on the edge of the tank.”

“Then there was a big explosion and I saw Taub flying through the air against the side of the wall about 30 feet away.[Pg 98] Then the whiskey in the tank started to burn and the flames spread out along the ceiling as if the tank were a big furnace. When I saw that the whiskey was afire, I jumped over to turn on the outlet valve so that the whiskey would run off into the drain pipe. I turned on the water so it would run into the tank and put out the fire. I hurried over to see if Taub was hurt, for the water had put out the blaze and all of the whiskey was running out into the sewer. I found Taub lying against the wall unconscious with his hands and face burned. I was just going to carry him over to the elevator when the firemen came rushing up. I told them the fire was out and asked them to help me carry Taub downstairs. Then Mr. Mackey called the ambulance and they took Taub who had regained consciousness and was groaning with pain from his burns to Roosevelt Hospital.

“There wasn’t any damage done but we lost all the whiskey and I guess the building would have burned if I hadn’t let the whiskey run out and turned on the water. The ambulance doctor said Taub would be able to get back to work in about a week.”

(8) Compare these three stories in regard to the effectiveness of the introductory statement.


Within hailing distance of several costly north shore residences, Henry Hoskin, 132 Welcome place, was held up late last evening and robbed of $14 and a watch. Hoskin was crossing Bellevue place on Lake Shore drive when a black limousine car drove up and a man with a revolver leaped out in front of the pedestrian. Hoskin turned over his money promptly. The robber jumped back into the car, where Hoskin could see two others, and the car dashed on to the north.


The latest thing in highway robbery is to have a $7,000 limousine and a handsome chauffeur, and then to watch for victims strolling through fashionable neighborhoods. Henry Hoskin, who lives at 132 Welcome Place, was a victim at 1 o’clock this morning.

“I was just passing Harold McCormick’s mansion at the Lake Shore Drive and Bellevue Place,” he said,[Pg 99] “when it happened to me. The finest looking limousine I ever saw slowed up right in front of the McCormick house. The machine looked so expensive that I thought the occupant must be the millionaire himself—until out he leaps at me with a revolver leveled at my head. It took the man about four seconds to get my money—it was only $14. And then I was ordered to be on my way.

“There were two of the robbers, the operating man and the chauffeur, who looked like a real one.”

Hoskin told his story to the police at the East Chicago Avenue Station and they started a search for the robbers.


Stepping out of one of the finest limousine cars ever seen in Lake Shore Drive, three young men held up a pedestrian early today at the point of their pistols in front of the Harold McCormick home. The victim, Henry Hoskin, 132 Welcome Place, told the police of the East Chicago Avenue Station that he would not have been more surprised if the St. Gaudens statue of Lincoln in Lincoln Park had stepped off its pedestal and picked his pocket.

“I was just passing Harold McCormick’s mansion at the Lake Shore Drive and Bellevue Place,” he said, “when it happened to me. The finest looking limousine I ever saw slowed up right in front of the McCormick house. The machine looked so expensive that I thought the occupant must be the millionaire himself—until out leaped three men with revolvers leveled at my head. It took the men about four seconds to get my money—it was only $14. And then I was ordered to be on my way.

“The three robbers were well-dressed young fellows. The chauffeur wore a uniform and looked like a real chauffeur.”

[Pg 100]

(9) Analyze the treatment of material in the second story below and compare it with that in the first.


A quarrel over the merits of the North and South in the civil war resulted in the shooting through the right cheek of John White, 3100 Renton street, at the saloon of William Lubin, Brinton avenue and Hamilton street, by Charles McGuire. The latter was arrested.


The war of the rebellion was resumed in Chicago yesterday after a preliminary skirmish on Saturday. Three men were engaged, and after the smoke of battle had cleared away the casualties were found to be: one shot, one prisoner of war, and one incapacitated for conflict.

The skirmish and ultimate battle occurred in the saloon of William Lubin, Brinton avenue and Hamilton street. Charles McGuire and his brother carried the colors of the South and John White defended the North.

The three men were drinking together on Saturday when the issues between the North and South caused a dispute. They parted in wrath.

“We’ll show that fellow where he gets off at,” the McGuire brothers are reported to have said as they left for the loop to buy arms to protect the honor of the South.

Charles McGuire, with a revolver as his artillery, went alone yesterday to the saloon. His brother, not feeling well, remained at home. Soon Charles met White and had no trouble in drawing an attack from him.

He drew the revolver and shot White through the cheek. Then the police arrived and took Charles prisoner. White was rushed to St. Anne’s hospital.

[Pg 101]



Kinds of Occurrences. Reports of unexpected occurrences of various kinds may be taken as typical of news stories generally. Fires, railroad and trolley wrecks, mine and tunnel accidents, floods and storms, marine disasters, explosions, runaways, automobile accidents, etc., form one large group of events in this class. Murders, suicides, robberies, embezzlements, and all other crimes constitute the second important division. The application to each of these groups of the principles of structure and style discussed in the preceding chapter will be considered separately.

Fires and Accidents. In news stories of fires and accidents, the number of lives lost or endangered, the character and extent of the damage, and the cause are the features in which readers are most interested. Lists of the killed or injured are always included in local stories, and should be sent in telegraph stories when the persons are known in communities in which the newspaper circulates. The names, the addresses, the occupations or business connections, and often the age of persons killed, are given, and the same details are reported for the seriously hurt, as well as the extent of the injuries and the hospital to which each person is taken. The form in which such lists are arranged is shown in the explanation of “boxed” lists (pages 86–88). The extent and the character of the damage caused by a disaster are important, particularly when the amount or the area affected is large. Curious and unusual causes and results, remarkable escapes, pathetic or humorous incidents,[Pg 102] and novel circumstances generally are frequently “played up,” particularly in telegraph stories of occurrences in which the persons involved are known only locally. In such cases the peculiar circumstances are the only reason for publishing the stories outside of the community in which the events happen. Unusual incidents are also good in the lead of local stories when the other phases are not more important.

The chief considerations in writing the body of news stories of unexpected occurrences are to select and emphasize important details, to eliminate or subordinate minor ones, and to connect firmly the different parts of the narrative. Whether the reporter is limited to a given number of words or is instructed to write as much as the news is worth, he must choose and reject particulars with great care, remembering always that what he retains must be so arranged that to the rapid reader the relation of one part to another will be perfectly clear. In a complex story with a series of incidents taking place simultaneously, different threads of narrative must be woven together skillfully to make it evident how the several incidents took place at the same time.

Greater life, action, and interest can always be given to accounts of fires, accidents, and disasters that cause loss of life, by giving in direct quotations the accounts of eye-witnesses and survivors. When the magnitude of the catastrophe warrants it, every effort is made to get interviews and statements from persons involved. Conversation between those concerned in the event can sometimes be used effectively. Every form of direct quotation gives variety and interest to the news story and is therefore an excellent method to use.

In the excitement naturally produced by the news of a disaster, many rumors quickly gain currency. The first estimates of the number of lives lost or endangered[Pg 103] and of the extent of the damage are frequently too large. The young reporter must not let himself be carried away by wild reports, and should discount liberally these estimates. By keeping calm no matter how great the catastrophe and attendant excitement, he not only can judge the more accurately of the character of the information that he gets from others, but he inspires a certain amount of calmness in those from whom he is getting his information and thus secures the facts more accurately. He should not accept reports of a disaster without question and investigation, or if it is impossible to investigate them, he should give them as rumors and not as facts. To magnify a catastrophe often means to cause needless anxiety to many whose relatives or friends may be involved in it. As in all reporting, a simple narrative, picturing clearly, accurately, and interestingly the unexpected occurrence, is the best news story.

The Lead of the Fire Story. Because accounts of fires involve all the points to be considered in the average news story, they are taken as typical of the whole group of accidental occurrences. In fire stories the feature to be “played up” may be, (1) the cause, (2) the extent of the damage, (3) the danger to surrounding property, (4) the number of lives endangered or lost, (5) prominent persons or places involved, or (6) any unusual incident or phase. The following examples illustrate methods of giving prominence to each of the significant details at the beginning of the lead.



Spontaneous combustion of turpentine and paints caused a fire that completely destroyed the one-story frame paint shop of John Nelson, 213 Higginson Street, shortly before midnight, causing a loss of $5,000.

[Pg 104]


Candles on a Christmas tree set fire to lace curtains in the home of Robert Whitcomb, 1716 Charter Street, last night, and before the blaze was extinguished $500 damage had been done to the house and furnishings.


The breaking of an incandescent light set fire to a can of gasoline in the garage of the Wheeler Automobile Company, 731 Winter Place, early this morning, and two taxi-cabs were badly scorched.

Damage and Danger


Over a million dollars’ worth of property was consumed on South Point within two hours yesterday afternoon when fire destroyed Elevator D of the Consolidated Elevator Company, and the docks and sheds of the Western Pacific Railroad Company.


Nearly 3,000,000 feet of lumber were burned at Mystic Wharf early this morning with a loss of $120,000 to the Export Lumber Company and the Atlantic Coast Lumber Company.


About $2,000,000 worth of property was threatened by fire in the manufacturing district along the Ohio river front last night when the plant of the Rockton Woodworking Company was completely destroyed with a loss of $125,000.

Lives Lost or Endangered


Nearly 300 frightened girls ran down stairways, jammed themselves into elevators, or jumped to roofs of adjoining buildings this noon when fire did $20,000 damage to the twelve story building at 652 Bleecker Street.

[Pg 105]


Nine firemen were overcome by ammonia fumes while fighting a fire in the cold storage warehouse of R. C. Rinder, 48 to 52 May Street, this morning.


One person was suffocated, one fatally and three seriously burned, and the lives of many others endangered when fire swept through the five-story flat house at 122 West 127th Street today.


Three children were burned to death this noon while locked in the house by their mother, Mrs. Frank Lincoln, 1719 Belleville Place.

Persons and Places


Market Square Theatre was damaged by fire to the extent of $5,000 late last night, evidently the result of a lighted cigar or cigarette thrown on the gallery steps at the close of the performance.


Robert Camp’s summer home at Rockton, L. I., was completely destroyed yesterday by fire said to have been started by tramps. The loss Mr. Camp estimates at $25,000, fully covered by insurance.


Wilton C. McClay, broker, 71 Exchange Place, was suffocated by smoke in his rooms in the Oxford Arms early this morning, when fire, originating in a defective flue, damaged the building to the extent of $1,500.

[Pg 106]

Unusual Circumstances


Overcoats used as life nets saved the lives of a dozen women and children last night when fire, believed to be of incendiary origin, gutted the three-story frame tenement at 137 Hoverton Avenue, Brooklyn.


Rotten hose, which burst as fast as it was put in use, imperiled the lives of firemen today in a fire that destroyed the foundry of the National Tubing Co., Wilson and Pierce Streets.


More than 300 chickens and ducks were cremated last night in a blaze in the basement of the meat market of John Holton, 16 Erie Street.


To rescue his money, which he hoped would raise him from the rank of workman to that of merchant, Woo Wing Lee, Chinese laundryman, 3031 Nicollet Avenue, ran back into his burning laundry today and was so badly burned that physicians say he cannot live.

Fire Stories. After the lead has been completed, the main part of the story remains to be written. The structure of the body of the story offers no particular difficulties in arrangement as the incidents usually follow each other in the order of time. In the account of a fire, it is usual, after the lead, to give the facts concerning the discovery of the fire, the sounding of the alarm, the arrival of the fire department, the progress of the fire, and the different incidents, with little or no variation from chronological order.

[Pg 107]

How a fire story is arranged is shown in the following example:

By sliding down a swaying extension ladder through fire and smoke, with an unconscious woman in his arms, Fireman Daniel Walter rescued her from death in a fire that early this morning swept through a five-story apartment house at 122 West Thirty-ninth Street, and caused a loss of $15,000. Mrs. Mary Owen, the woman saved, is in a serious condition as a result of inhaling smoke, but at the Harlem Hospital it was said that she would probably recover.

When the firemen on Truck 30 reached the burning building, they saw Mrs. Owen leaning out of a front window on the fifth floor, screaming for help and apparently preparing to jump to the street.

“Don’t jump,” shouted the firemen. “We’ll be up there in a minute.”

She stood motionless in the window with the smoke pouring out around her when the big eighty-foot extension ladder began to rise slowly in response to vigorous cranking. While the ladder was swaying like a pendulum as it ascended, Fireman Walter and Driver Frank Lawson began to climb up.

“Hold on just a second longer,” shouted Lawson as he saw that Mrs. Owen was again leaning forward as if about to jump.

When he reached the top of the ladder a moment later, Mrs. Owen swayed and fell back into the room. At the same instant flames burst out of the windows on the third floor and swept through the ladder.

“You go down,” called Walter to Driver Lawson below him on the ladder. “I’ll get her and slide for it. Be at the bottom to catch us.”

Lawson slid back through the flames, and Walter climbed into the[Pg 108] window. Mrs. Owen was lying unconscious on the floor with her dress ablaze. Walter beat out the flames and then wrapped his coat around her to protect her from the sparks and embers that were swirling through the window.

Laying the unconscious woman on the window-sill, Walter climbed out on the ladder. Then he reached over and took Mrs. Owen, placing her across his arms. Seeing that a slow descent through the flames bursting out of the windows on the floors below meant certain death, Walter wrapped his legs around the sides of the ladder and took hold of both sides with his hands, balancing Mrs. Owen across his arms.

“Catch us down there,” he shouted and started to slide down the ladder through the flames and smoke, as though it had been greased.

For a few seconds he was hidden from view; then he reappeared with his clothes ablaze but with his burden still safe across his arms. Firemen caught him as he reached the sidewalk, and took Mrs. Owen who was still unconscious.

It was all the police reserves could do to keep the crowd from breaking through the fire lines to congratulate Walter and carry him off on their shoulders. They cheered again and again as he was hurried into the Harlem Hospital ambulance. His hands and face were scorched, but after his burns had been dressed at the hospital he gamily returned to his quarters in the fire station.

Mrs. Owen was the only occupant of the house who did not succeed in reaching the fire escapes in the rear of the apartment and thus getting out safely.

The fire started in the basement, evidently from an overheated furnace, and shooting up through the air shafts, spread into the apartments on the third, fourth, and fifth floors. As[Pg 109] most of the tenants left the doors of their apartments open when they fled, the draught swept the fire through floor after floor. The interior of the whole five floors was destroyed. Three alarms were turned in and the fire was not under control until 10 o’clock.

Stories of Accidents. News stories of accidents are constructed on the same plan as those of fires, and the features are practically the same. The story of the accident in the subway (page 41) and the following one may be taken as typical reports of accidents.

In attempting to protect the lives of others against danger from a broken electric light wire, Patrolman Patrick Wilson, 751 Erie St., was electrocuted at 3:30 this morning on Depere Place between 75th and 76th streets. The body of the policeman was discovered an hour later by Oscar Wilkins, a milkman, as he was driving along Depere Place on his morning rounds. A small red burn across the back of his right hand and a live wire with a rope attached dangling from a tree a few feet away, showed how Wilson had lost his life.

Patrolman Wilson talked with Police Sergeant William Strong about the broken wire on Depere Place near 75th Street about 3:15 this morning. As he did not report to the police station from the patrol box as usual at 3:35, it is assumed that he was killed shortly before that time.

“There’s a live wire hanging down from a tree on Depere Place,” said Wilson to Sergeant Strong when they met shortly after three o’clock. “I’m afraid someone will be killed. I’ve been watching it all night. I believe I will try to fasten it up in the tree so that no one will run into it.”

[Pg 110]“You had better be careful; you may be killed,” suggested Strong.

“No danger of that,” he replied. “The wire is insulated.”

“Well, you had better get a rope at the car barns, anyway,” urged the sergeant, and Wilson agreed to go over to the barns on 75th Street for a rope. He was last seen alive when he left the car barns with some rope about 3:20.

Evidently he threw the rope over a branch of the tree, and then tried to put the deadly wire through a noose in one end of the rope so that it could be drawn up into the tree out of the way of passers-by. The wire must have squirmed around unexpectedly striking Wilson on the back of the hand and killing him instantly.

Wilson, who was 27 years old and had been on the police force for five years, is survived by a wife and two small children.

Stories of Crime. Accounts of crime, or “police news stories,” are constructed on practically the same principles as those of fires and accidents. In all crimes in which human lives are destroyed or endangered, the essential points are the names of the persons involved, the nature of the crime, its cause, its results, and, if the perpetrator escapes, clues to his identity and whereabouts. In murders, attempted murders, suicides, and defalcations, the motives for the crime are always matters of great interest. The value of what was stolen or what might have been stolen should be given in reports of robberies or embezzlements. Ingenious methods used to gain entrance to places robbed make interesting features. In defalcation or fraud peculiar means of deception employed may be “played up.” The “human interest” in the accused or the victim must not be overlooked in crime stories. When[Pg 111] either individual is well known, his name is the important “feature.”

The reporter must always remember that a person charged with a crime is not a criminal until he is proved guilty in court. Unless he confesses, the person charged with crime is presumed to be innocent until convicted. In writing police stories, therefore, the reporter should always make it plain that the person involved is “charged” with a crime, and that he is “alleged,” or “said,” by the police to be guilty. While he is charged with the crime, he may be said to be, not “the murderer,” but “the alleged murderer”; or not “the embezzler,” but “the alleged embezzler.” The reporter should present both sides of the case by giving the prisoner’s version, as well as that of the police, not only because it is just to do so but because it is usually good news.

Stories of crime, like all other news stories, should be told in a simple, direct style that presents in an accurate and interesting manner the account of the crime as it was actually committed. Exaggerated and sensational stories of crime or those in which attempts are made to arouse sentiment for or against the perpetrator or his victim, have no place in the news columns of reputable newspapers. If readers are to be appealed to to right a wrong, such appeals should be made in the editorial columns and should not be allowed to color the facts in the news stories. The actual facts truthfully presented make the best possible appeal. To try, in the newspapers, a person accused of crime, before or during his legal trial, is not to give him the fair trial to which he is entitled.

The way in which various phases of crime may be “featured” in the lead without making the story in any way sensational is shown by the following examples,[Pg 112] in which some interesting or extraordinary phase of the crime is put in the emphatic position at the beginning of the story.


After confessing to a shortage of $21,500 lost in speculation, Robert Crook, Jr., assistant paying teller of the Security Loan & Trust Co., was arrested this afternoon on the charge of embezzlement.


“I played the ponies and lost,” is William Dieb’s explanation of the theft of $1,200 from Wilson Brothers, clothiers, 121 Williamson Street, where for eighteen months he has been employed as cashier.


On the charge of robbing thousands of women and other small investors of nearly $25,000 by fake mining schemes, Allan Gotham, a mining broker with offices at 117 Chambers Street, was arrested by U. S. Marshal Harshaw this morning.


To avenge a beating, Giovanni Ricci, a laborer, shot and instantly killed Guiatto Cimbri, section foreman on the Pennsylvania Railroad, this noon, near Harcourt Road, just west of this city. Ricci immediately disappeared among the freight cars in the railroad yards nearby, and as the other workmen were unable to find any trace of him, it is believed that he boarded a freight train as it drew out of the yards.


By leaping from his aeroplane at a height of 2,000 feet, Luis Reveri, a young Spanish aviator, committed suicide early today, following a quarrel late last night with a young woman to whom he is said to have been engaged.

[Pg 113]


Seized by thugs in broad daylight while crossing the railroad tracks at the foot of Washington Street, this noon, William Williams, a stone mason from Chicago, was robbed of a gold watch and $20.


With all the skill of professional thieves, two neatly dressed little girls robbed several stores in the neighborhood of Amsterdam Avenue and 159th Street yesterday, by arranging that the younger, about 12 years old, should engage the proprietor in conversation while the older, about 14 years, proceeded to take whatever she could carry away conveniently.


Sticky fly paper pasted on show windows to prevent the crash of falling glass, was used by burglars who broke the plate glass windows of three jewelry stores on Third street last night, and got away with about $15,000 worth of plunder.

The following story of a robbery shows how various details are grouped in the lead and in the body of the story:

Westhampton, Ind., April 10.—By drilling through a fourteen inch fireproof wall of the vault of the temporary post office from an adjoining store, expert cracksmen got away with $18,653, all in stamps, some time last night. So skillfully did they operate that mail clerks at work all night fifty feet away from the vault knew nothing of what took place. The police and post office inspectors have no clue.

The robbery was discovered at 7:30 o’clock this morning by Oscar Otter, a clerk in the United States[Pg 114] Furniture Co., which occupies the store adjoining the post office. When Otter was unable to open either of the front doors of the store with his keys he became suspicious and called Patrolman Frank Parker. Throwing their weight against the doors they forced an entrance and found that both had been fastened by large screw eyes.

On examining the store, they discovered below the main stairway on the first floor a hole in the wall about eighteen inches square. An electric drill with wires attached to an electric light socket under the stairs showed how the robbers had succeeded in cutting through the fourteen inch fireproof wall. Drills, chisels, and a small bottle of nitroglycerine were found a few feet away covered with dust. The floor in front of the hole and the wall about it were covered with blankets and quilts taken from the company’s stock, apparently to deaden the sound of drilling. The bricks of which there was a small pile had evidently been drawn out one by one as fast as they were loosened, with the aid of a small pulley and tackle that were lying in the hole.

Some footprints in the dust at the foot of the stairs indicated that one of the men had been stationed there as a look-out to command a view of the street through the big plate glass windows of the store. These with the tools and tackle were the only clues.

Patrolman Parker notified the detectives of the central police station while Mr. Otter informed Postmaster White. When the post office vault was opened everything was found to be in confusion. The stamp cases had been rifled to the extent of over $18,000 worth of stamps of all denominations. The cash boxes had evidently been overlooked for they were found to be intact.

[Pg 115]“At no time of the night was the post office unguarded,” said Postmaster White. “Arthur Cummings and Henry Leister, mailing clerks, were in the mailing and sorting rooms until they were relieved by the day force. Patrolman Cutting, a messenger, and mail wagon drivers were in and out of the office at all hours of the night.”

Post Office Inspector A. B. Holmes of Cincinnati was notified of the robbery by telegraph, and Inspector G. C. Helms of Fort Wayne, whom he detailed to come here to investigate, arrived late tonight.


  1. Find an interesting “feature” in every unexpected occurrence.
  2. Give all the facts and stick to them.
  3. Don’t be carried away by wild reports; investigate every rumor.
  4. Keep cool, no matter how great the disaster.
  5. Don’t overestimate the extent of the damage and the number of persons killed or injured.
  6. Remember that not all persons who appear in the news are necessarily “prominent” or “well known.”
  7. Avoid describing persons or property as “endangered” or “threatened” when they are not actually in danger.
  8. Don’t overload your story with minor details.
  9. Give life and action by using direct quotation whenever it is appropriate.
  10. Include verbatim accounts of eye-witnesses or survivors in big disasters.
  11. Make clear to the rapid reader the exact relation of all incidents to the principal event.
  12. Look for the motive in murders, suicides, embezzlements, and similar crimes.
  13. See the “human interest” in police news.
  14. Don’t call an accused person a criminal unless he confesses or has been convicted of crime before.[Pg 116]
  15. Don’t try criminal cases in your news stories; leave that to the court.
  16. Give both sides; the accused as well as the accuser has a right to be heard.
  17. Avoid predictions of “sensational developments” when they are not likely to occur.
  18. Don’t put a “mystery” in your story when none exists.
  19. Remember that the truth, and nothing but the truth, interestingly written, makes the best news story.


1. Criticise and rewrite the following fire story:

In a fire which destroyed the plant of John B. May & Co., paint and varnish makers, 20 East Harmon street, late yesterday, five men who took desperate chances in escaping from the blazing structure were injured and Mme. Celloni’s famous bohemian restaurant was temporarily put out of commission.

Mme. Celloni’s, for twenty years renowned as a gathering place for Chicago’s litterati, adjoins the burned building on the south. It was flooded by water, shaken by explosions and overrun by firemen, who fought to confine the flames to the May rooms.

The damage to the building, which was a three-story brick, and contents of the paint house is $65,000. The loss on paintings, decorations and furnishings in Mme. Celloni’s is placed at $5,000. All is reported covered by insurance.

The injured men were employes of the paint company. Driven by a succession of explosions to the roof, they were hemmed in by flames. They slid down a rope to safety. The injured are:

Joseph Hinners, 312 North Wilson avenue; hands and face burned.

Michael Lorenz, 614 William square; hands burned, right wrist sprained.

William Gee, 6651 North Washington street; hands cut and burned.

James Green, 84 New street; body bruised and contused.

Charles Speer, 916 First street; body bruised.

The men were at work on the third floor when the alarm was sounded. The stairway was in flames and three explosions of wood alcohol tanks in the basement and minor explosions caused by the ignition of smaller containers of oil on the third floor drove them to the roof.

[Pg 117]

A line was passed to them from the street. Hinners, a foreman, made it fast. He ordered his men to precede him down the rope. When he undertook his slide for life the entire building was afire. The flames licked the slender cord and, just before Hinners reached the ground, it was severed.

Miss Mary Devine of Walnut Park, stenographer for John B. May, was in the office of the building with Mr. May when the fire was discovered. Although the other employes fled she remained and assisted Mr. May in placing valuable papers in the safe before leaving. There were fifteen persons in the building when it took fire, Mr. May said.

The fire is believed to have originated in the rear of the basement where the wood alcohol was stored. The explosions splintered the rear partitions and ceilings and spread the flames.

The building was an old one and burned rapidly. Within a few minutes after the alarm was sounded the flames enveloped it. Twelve engine companies were summoned and Fire Chief Classon took personal charge of the work. Tenants of the apartment building on the north of the paint company fled, but their rooms were not damaged.

The fire was fought with difficulty. Firemen “Jim” Moore and Samuel Walters of engine company No. 11 risked their lives on a ladder to keep the flames from an oil tank in front of the third floor which threatened to ignite the top apartments of Mme. Celloni’s.

Firemen caused most of the damage to Mme. Celloni’s. Costly tapestry and hangings were knocked down and trampled under foot. The place will be reopened soon. It has long been the meeting place of the “true bohemians” of Chicago’s literary world and art circles.

The building occupied by the May company was owned by Esther McNain of Hyde Park.

2. Analyze the following story; can you improve it by rewriting?

Riverside residents’ New Year resolutions were jolted at the outset. Just at the break of the first day of 1913 the 110 foot water tower, sole source of supply for the town, burned to the ground.

From 5:30 to 10 o’clock no water was to be had. Then hard personal effort by members of the village board resulted in fire hose being connected with outlying hydrants of Berwyn, next village east; water trickled once more into kitchen sinks of Riverside homes. There was not sufficient power, however, to force the water to second floors.

The cause of the fire is unknown. It is believed to have been caused by a defective chimney, as the fire originated near the roof.[Pg 118] The flare of light over the roofs and through the trees warned the suburb. The citizens promptly filled bathtubs, buckets, pitchers, and all other available receptacles. This exhausted the supply in the mains and the firemen found they had no pressure of water with which to fight the fire.

Half an hour after the blaze was discovered the tower was transformed into a pillar of flame. The fire swept around it in a circling whirlwind, crackling and snapping until it reached the top, when it billowed into a black cloud. Most inhabitants of Riverside and nearby towns came to the blazing tower. The firemen found themselves helpless. In an hour the chemical truck from Cicero arrived, but the fire had too big a start.

When the tank collapsed there was a dense smoke and a scattering of brands, but the effect of the loosened water did little to extinguish the fire.

The water tank was built in 1870 and was a landmark for many years, especially valued by automobilists entering and leaving Chicago along the Riverside road. There was $15,000 insurance, but the total loss was estimated to amount to approximately $50,000.

During the interval when Riverside was without water children were sent both to Lyons and to Berwyn for bottled water. Then John H. Rogers, a grocery man, obtained wagons and automobiles and brought 2,000 gallons of water into the town from a nearby bottling works. At the breakfast hour automobiles were lined up in front of his store with customers waiting their turn to be served with water.

In many residences where hot water heat is used it was necessary to let the fire go out. For the relief of these persons Arthur Hughes, commissioner of public works, sent men to bring what water wagons and sprinkler carts they could from the neighboring towns. Water for the heaters and also for live stock thereby was provided.

The town board held an emergency meeting in the morning and made preliminary arrangements for a new plant. The water is pumped from two artesian wells 2,000 feet deep.

“We will have a temporary power plant in here by next Saturday,” announced Henry G. Riley, president of the board. “When we are ready to install our new plant it will be on a different plan than this one, which was inefficient, anyway.”

3. Are the essential facts presented most effectively in the “leads” of the following stories?


Belleview, Wis., Jan. 3.—William Schmidt, a farm hand of Branch Township, confessed to-day that it was he who attacked Miss Lizzie Martin of this city last Saturday, and injured her so[Pg 119] severely that she died a week later. Schmidt insisted that he had mistaken Miss Martin for a man on whom he sought revenge, and that he had not meant to kill her.

Until Schmidt confessed the police and the county authorities were without a single clue as to Miss Martin’s slayer. Bloodhounds and Belgian sheep dogs had been used to trace the slayer, but they had failed. Several men, black and white, had been arrested, but each one proved his innocence. Rewards totaling more than $2,500 had been offered, but not until a day or so ago was the least clue found.

Then Miss Mildred Green, a trained nurse, attending a case on a farm near Richland, noticed that a new farm hand was extremely nervous, and that he talked of almost nothing but the Martin murder. He discussed the probable penalty for such a crime, and was eager to know whether any trace had been found of the slayer. The nurse, convinced that the man, who was Schmidt, knew something of the crime, told Dr. Henry F. Schley, a local physician, of her suspicions, and last night Dr. Schley brought Schmidt here.

The physician got a room for Schmidt in a local hotel, and this morning communicated with Prosecutor Frank Firling. The latter, with several policemen, concealed himself in a room in the hotel through the walls of which holes had been bored into the adjoining room, and then Schmidt was led into this second room. There, under Dr. Schley’s questioning, he gradually made a full confession, which was overheard by Firling and the policemen, who entered the room and arrested him.

Schmidt took his arrest very calmly. In fact, he seemed to be relieved after he had made his confession. He even whistled cheerfully as he was taken to jail. Later he was arraigned before the Justice of the Peace and held without bail on a charge of murder, to await the action of the January Grand Jury.

Prosecutor Firling, beyond saying that Schmidt had made a confession, was not much disposed to talk about the case. He said, however, that Schmidt denied that robbery was his motive, and that the prisoner said he did not discover that he had mistaken the woman in the darkness for a man against whom he had a grievance, until after he had felled her.


Paul Schein, said to have confessed to having illicitly distilled liquor in his home at 421 Maryland street, was arrested today by government officers and is locked up in the county jail. He confessed to Marshal Weed this afternoon, according to the marshal. Held as evidence is a copper tea-kettle still, found in his house. Schein is 25 years old.

The discovery of the outfit came as the result of a fire in the home of the accused man. Detectives Harry Weiler and Arthur Winter found the tea-kettle distillery. They took the apparatus[Pg 120] to the police station, learned its purpose, and notified the government authorities.

Special Gauger Frank Heiler was put upon the case, and the arrest of Schein followed. Schein is said to have told Marshal Weed that he made cheap brandy, using dried grape mash. He said, however, that he has only been making the brandy for fourteen days, for his own use. Schein is a wine-maker.

4. Rewrite the following story, giving it a summary lead and improving it in every possible way.

Fresh from an evening of shopping in 125th Street, Mrs. Margaret Werner started down Broadway about 10:30 last night, headed for her apartment at 627 West 109th Street, and talking Christmas plans with her friends, Miss Ethel Hinkey, of 421 Cathedral Parkway, and Jennie Fielding, of 301 Harrison Avenue.

Their thoughts were full of the Yuletide and their arms were full of bundles, and as they were walking down from 118th Street past the long, lonesome stretch of the Columbia University buildings they were so absorbed in their chatting that they paid no attention to three men speeding to catch up with them.

Suddenly two of the men stepped around in front of them, and one reached for the capacious handbag swinging by a strap from Mrs. Werner’s wrist. The other two men devoted themselves solely to keeping the other two women quiet, and Mrs. Werner was practically left to fight it out with the highwayman. She was a pretty good match for him.

Her first thought was to clench her fist grimly on the straps of her handbag. Her second was to scream, and she carried this second idea into such good effect she could be heard a block away, despite her assailant’s swift reach for her throat. Once his fingers closed, she did not make any more noise, but just struggled and twisted while the highwayman thrust her against the wall.

But her first cry had been heard by a broad-shouldered muscular stranger who was swinging up Broadway and changed his walk to an interested run at the sound of the cries for help. He reached out a long arm for Mrs. Werner’s assailant, and after wrenching him around gave him a stinging buffet over the head.

Then the two men locked, and the highwayman’s assistants stood at a nervous and respectful distance while the stranger did his work. He finally had the chief offender so suppressed that his only remaining weapon was his teeth, and these he imbedded in the rescuer’s shoulder.

This was the way matters stood when Mrs. Werner and her friends heard the sound of Patrolman McDonald fairly racing up Broadway from his post two blocks below, where he had been standing when he first heard the cries. At sight of him the two[Pg 121] minor highwaymen just turned on their heels and fled, while McDonald closed on their friend.

The stranger, released from his chivalrous police duties, rubbed his shoulder ruefully, and identified himself as Harry Rogers, a civil engineer. He helped to calm Mrs. Werner, who was very much wrought up, and not at all pleased to find that for all her valiant self-defense two five-dollar bills were missing from her opened bag, to say nothing of her eyeglasses. All her Christmas bundles were intact, however, lying strewn on the pavement at the very spot where she had dropped them and from which the highwayman had pushed her over toward the wall.

As for the highwayman, he went peaceably enough to the West 125th Street Station, where he gave his name as Arthur G. Duffy, his age as 21, his occupation that of a driver, and his address, 961 West Forty-fifth Street. Mrs. Werner’s money was not to be found in his pockets, but her glasses were.

5. What are the faults in the following story, and how can you correct them?

Charles Johnson of 641 Washington Avenue, Jersey City, who is employed as a bookkeeper by the Harrison Felt Company in the company’s Mill No. 3, 16 Erie Street, started out from the factory yesterday morning to draw the money for the weekly payroll, following his custom. An associate of Johnson who usually made the trip to the bank with him was ill, and in his absence the bookkeeper was accompanied by Edward Wiley of 412 Oak Place, Jersey City, the 19-year-old son of the manager of the factory, who is also an employe of the establishment.

The man and the youth, carrying a small satchel, went first to the New York County Bank, Fourteenth Street and Eighth Avenue. A part of the pay roll was drawn out there, and then they went to the Gansevoort Branch of the Security Bank, Fourteenth Street and Ninth Avenue, where were withdrawn the remaining funds needed to make up the weekly wages.

Ordinarily, the weekly payroll of the Erie Street mill reaches a total of $3,000 to $3,500, but at the Christmas holidays a part of the employes had been paid off in advance. As a result, Johnson and Wiley drew from the two banks, instead of the usual amount, just $1,194, in currency and specie of small denomination.

They proceeded west on Fourteenth Street one block to Hudson Street, and south on Hudson Street four blocks to Abingdon Square. Here they crossed the street from east to west, and, going two blocks further, turned into Erie, rounding the corner where stands the saloon of Schmidt Brothers. Scarcely a block away in the same street is the factory of the Harrison Felt Company.

Jutting out on the north side of Erie Street from Schmidt Brothers’ saloon is a glass vestibule, and about ten feet to the[Pg 122] west of it is an iron railing fronting a five-story brown stone apartment house. The railing and the vestibule form something like a retreat from the sidewalk. As Johnson and Wiley neared this spot they saw two men standing in the space between the railing and the vestibule, but took no especial notice of them as they walked along, each holding to the handle of the satchel, Johnson on the outside and Wiley next to the building.

All of a sudden the two men who had been standing in the inclosure, drawing blackjacks from their pockets, pounced down upon the pay roll messengers. The foremost man made for Wiley first, got a wrestler’s hold around his neck and sent him whirling to the pavement as the bandit struck vigorously at his head. At almost the same instant Johnson was attacked by the second robber, who sank his fingers into the bookkeeper’s throat, and hurled him to the sidewalk. The satchel remained in the hands of Wiley.

The bookkeeper and his companion fought valiantly, but Johnson was quickly overcome by the short, heavily built man, while Wiley, still clutching the handle of the satchel, was rolled over the edge of the sidewalk by his assailant. Wiley was still holding to his satchel and trying to keep it from the grasp of his assailant, when a third man, wearing a gray overcoat, ran over from the south side of the street and gave him a violent kick on the arm, releasing his grip on the satchel. The man in the gray overcoat snatched it up and darted off west on Erie Street to Greenwich Street, followed closely by the first two assailants and a fourth man, who had been observed standing on the south side of Erie Street. Johnson and Wiley, regaining their feet, started in pursuit of the fleeing men, both yelling, “Stop thief!”

The man in the gray overcoat, carrying the satchel, turned north into Greenwich Street with another of the bandits close at his heels. The other two, according to confused statements made by the pay roll messengers, turned south into Greenwich Street. The first two men leaped into a black five-passenger automobile waiting just around the corner in front of Pietro Gatti’s barber shop, 551 Greenwich Street. They were whisked away at full speed just as Johnson and Wiley turned into Greenwich Street. They saw the fleeing automobile, several blocks away, swing into Gansevoort Street. The second pair jumped into an automobile waiting in Greenwich Street, south of Erie Street, which started off also at top speed.

Meanwhile a large crowd had collected, but none of those who were in the vicinity in time to see the struggle would venture to give any assistance, because, as several of them afterward said, they thought it was an affair between gangmen, and discretion forbade their interference.

One of the first men to reach the place of the hold-up was Detective Patrick Sullivan, who was standing at Eleventh and Washington Streets, two blocks away, waiting to catch a car. He[Pg 123] arrived in time to see only clouds of dust cast up by the flying automobiles, but he succeeded in getting from some of the eyewitnesses several license numbers.

Mounted Patrolman Hartwig of Traffic Squad C reached the spot with Sullivan, and while the latter was gathering information from the spectators, the former telephoned the Charles Street Police Station and notified Police Headquarters. The reserves under Lieut. Green were rushed to Erie and Greenwich Streets, but arriving there too late to make any arrests, withdrew, leaving the apprehension of the highwaymen to Acting Captain Charles Du Frain.

Capt. Du Frain, after working on the case all day, said last night that he could report but little progress. He declared that the descriptions he had obtained from eyewitnesses were incomplete and confused, and that the numbers of the automobiles were likewise conflicting.

Julius H. Schnitzler, shipping clerk for the Scholz & Gamm pickle firm at 665 Wilson Street, an eyewitness of the affair, said yesterday afternoon that he had seen the hold-up and robbery from his desk, which faces almost the exact spot where the two messengers were first attacked. Before the attack Schnitzler declared that he had observed two men standing across Erie Street. It was most probably they, be said, who gave the signal of the approach of Johnson and Wiley.

Schnitzler said that these men were dressed, one in a black suit with a black derby, and the other in a blue suit under a dark overcoat. The man in the black suit pulled a yellow blackjack, with which he attacked Wiley, while the second man attacked Johnson. Schnitzler further said he had noticed one of the autos when he went to his office shortly before 8 o’clock. His story was corroborated in practically every detail by Arthur Hansen, a clerk in the office with him.

Another complete account of the affair was obtained from Mary Harrigan, a maid in the home of Judge John R. Winch, 961 Greenwich Street, across the street from where the first automobile was kept waiting.

Johnson was able to continue his work at his desk. He corrected some of the details in his first version of the attack, and declared that he had not been struck with a blackjack. He as well as Wiley, however, received a number of bruises in the struggle.

6. Combine the later bulletin (1) with the first news story (2) in rewriting the following material.


Norfolk, Va., Jan. 4.—A wireless message received tonight from the revenue cutter Apache says the British steamer Indrakuala[Pg 124] rescued six of the crew of the steamer Luckenbach, with which she collided in Chesapeake Bay today. One of the men, W. M. McDonald, a coal passer, died from the effects of the long exposure in the Luckenbach’s rigging.


Norfolk, Va., Jan. 4.—With the abatement today of the wind and snowstorm that raged over the eastern states last night, came harrowing tales of shipwrecks at sea, thrilling rescues, increased loss of life and damage to property.

Eight men, the survivors of the crew of twenty-two of the steamer Julia Luckenbach, which was rammed and sunk by the British tramp Indrakuala in Chesapeake bay, arrived in Norfolk late today, and after being revived, started for New York.

The eight men clung to the rigging for six hours until they were taken off by the crew of the steamship Pennsylvania. The Indrakuala was badly damaged and had to be beached. She lies about two miles from the Luckenbach, whose spars alone are visible rising out of forty-five feet of water near Tangiers sound.

The eight survivors of the Luckenbach are George Hunt, first officer; William Bruhn, second officer; George Little, first assistant engineer; George Doyle, third assistant engineer; George Davis, quartermaster; William Hoffman, fireman; and Theodore Losher and P. Anderson, seamen.

Describing his experience Davis said tonight:

“None of us knew what hit us. I was knocked down and when I got up water was pouring over me. I saw men climbing into the rigging and I followed. I saw Capt. Gilbert swimming around the ship and calling for his wife, who was an invalid. Both were lost. Waves that appeared to be two hundred feet high broke over the ship and she sank in a hurry. Lifeboats were lowered from the Indrakuala but none came toward us. The ship turned her nose around and started for the beach.”

“We pleaded and cried for help,” said Theodore Losher, “but were either unheard or ignored. The Indrakuala was less than 100 yards away when she started for the beach. I thought every minute we would be blown into the sea. The wind was terrific. Our chief engineer, Kris Knudson, told me he could not hold on much longer, because his hands were frozen. I told him to stick it out a little longer. When the Danish steamer Pennsylvania hove in sight, I called to him, but he was gone.

“We were six hours in that rigging. But there were men on the Pennsylvania. When they saw our signals of distress they put away in small boats in spite of the tremendous seas. The boats would get near us and then be carried fifty feet in the air on the crest of a wave and lost to sight, but those men stuck and took everyone of us off. First Officer Hunt was unconscious when they reached[Pg 125] him. He had been holding on with one hand and holding an unconscious man on his perch with the other.”

The Indrakuala is commanded by Capt. Smith, but the ship does not carry wireless and no statement from him was obtainable tonight.

According to the survivors, Capt. Gilbert and the first and second officers were standing on the bridge when the collision occurred. There was no opportunity to give alarm to those below.

7. What are the objections to the first paragraph as the beginning of the following story, and how can you improve it in rewriting?

About 5 o’clock yesterday morning a wagon load of thieves arrived in front of the tenement house at 841 Holton Place. Leaving one of their number to hold the horse, the others went to the roof of the house and thence to the loft building at 837 Holton Place, on the top floor of which are the store and show rooms of the International Jewelry Company, of which Henry Hertel is President. The thieves cut a big hole through the roof of that building and then with the aid of a rope ladder let themselves down into the show room, where they packed a dozen suitcases belonging to traveling salesmen with loot, the value of which Mr. Hertel last night estimated to be about $5,000.

The International Jewelry Company is wired everywhere with burglar alarms, but the directing mind of yesterday’s theft evidently knew where all the wires were, for the hole was cut in one of the few places in the ceiling which had not been wired. After packing the suitcases the thieves retraced their steps over the roofs of 839 to 841 Holton Place, and then proceeding down the stairways of the tenement house, deposited the suitcases in the wagon and drove away.

The theft was discovered when the place was opened for business yesterday morning. An investigation was started, and tenants in 841 Holton Place told of seeing the wagon in front of that house at about 5 A.M. Detectives from the Reynolds Street Station are working on the case. So far they have reported no progress.

[Pg 126]



Various Forms of Utterances. As news stories of speeches, sermons, lectures, official reports, and interviews, as well as of testimony, decisions, and arguments in trials and investigations, are concerned largely with direct or indirect quotation of written or spoken expression, the writing of them involves several elements that do not enter into the composition of the typical news story. In the types of news thus far considered, such as fires, accidents, and crime, the story was a narrative of what had happened. Although the facts were gleaned largely from observation and interviews, usually no person’s ideas or opinions were quoted. News stories of addresses, reports, or similar documents, interviews and court trials, on the other hand, have only a small incidental narrative-descriptive element to present the circumstances under which the utterance was made. The large and important part of such stories consists of a reproduction in complete or condensed form of the original expression.

Verbatim Quotation. Direct verbatim quotations of all utterances are generally preferred for news stories, because they are exact reproductions of the originals. Whenever a copy of any of these forms of expression can be obtained, it is desirable for the reporter to get one either before or after the utterance is made, because of the accuracy of the quotation which a copy makes possible. Frequently copies of addresses, lectures, sermons, reports, decisions, and testimony can[Pg 127] be had, and exactness of reproduction is thus secured. When a copy cannot be obtained, the reporter is dependent upon himself to get the equivalent of it by taking down as nearly as possible a verbatim reproduction of such parts of the utterance as he desires.

Methods of Reporting Speeches. The two problems in reporting these various forms of oral or written expression are, how to get the exact words of the speakers, and how to condense long utterances effectively.

The body of news stories of speeches can often be written while the speaker talks, in what is called a “running story,” particularly when it is necessary for the reporter to have his copy ready for publication soon after the speaker finishes. In such cases the reporter picks out and combines into a connected verbatim report the most important statements, summarizing briefly the less important ones. To do this he depends on long-hand writing so that what he writes can be used as copy without being transcribed. If time permits, he may take notes during the address, sermon, or trial, and write up his story later. Short-hand, although occasionally convenient, is not commonly used by newspaper reporters, and very few of them can write it.

The greatest skill is required to condense all of these forms of expression within a comparatively limited space. A speech, for example, that in complete form would fill three columns must often be cut down to half a column; and a report that would fill a page often cannot be given more than three quarters of a column. To select and combine separate parts into a unified, coherent reproduction that is only one-fifth or one-tenth of the original, is no easy task. Despite this great condensation the news story must be an accurate presentation of all the important material in the original. When[Pg 128] a newspaper reporter or editor is satisfied to pick a few striking statements out of their context, and present them in a new combination, the result too often is that neither the spirit nor the substance of the original is accurately given; in fact, not infrequently the speakers’ ideas are completely, though often unintentionally, misrepresented.

“Playing Up” Misleading Statements. This distortion is often brought about by taking a striking sentence out of its context, in which it may be modified or explained, and by “playing it up” as a feature of the lead in a way that gives an entirely false or very misleading impression of the speaker and his utterance. The accuracy of the quotation under such circumstances does not justify the inaccuracy of the effect produced. Nor does the supposed news value of a striking but misleading quotation at the beginning of the lead justify the misrepresentation involved. Unless when taken from its context a quotation, direct or indirect, gives accurately not only the expression but the point of view and spirit of the original, it should not be used. Generally, by means of some connective or explanatory matter, such a quotation can be made to represent the original accurately. Great care should be taken not to give a wrong impression in the lead.

How to Begin the Lead. In news stories of speeches, lectures, and sermons, or of reports and similar documents, eight different forms for the beginning of the lead may be suggested: (1) a direct quotation of one sentence; (2) a direct quotation of one paragraph; (3) an indirect quotation of one statement; (4) an indirect quotation of several statements; (5) the keynote; (6) the title quoted; (7) the name of the speaker; and (8) the conditions under which the utterance was made. The reporter should choose the form[Pg 129] best suited to the subject, the substance, and the occasion of the speech or report.

The single sentence quotation, as in the following form, should be used when the thought or expression which it contains is the most significant feature:

“The sentiment of the working class everywhere is for peace rather than for war,” declared Charles P. Neill, United States commissioner of labor, in speaking on “The Interest of the Wage Earner in the Present Status of the Peace Movement,” before the Lake Mohonk Conference of International Arbitration.

The paragraph of direct quotation is necessary when the most important point of the speech is not expressed in a single sentence but requires several connected sentences, or when the single sentence is sufficiently long to fill a whole paragraph, thus:


“The treatment for bad politics is exactly the modern treatment for tuberculosis—it is exposure to the open air. One of the reasons why politics took on a new complexion in the city in which the civic center movement originated was that the people who could go into the schoolhouse knew what was going on in that city and insisted upon talking about it; and the minute they began talking about it, many things became impossible, for there are scores of things in politics that will stop the moment they are talked about where men will listen.”

So said Gov. Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey in speaking on “The Social Center: A Medium of Common Understanding” at the opening of the first national conference of civic and social center development last night.

[Pg 130]


“Whatever method of control over water-power resources may be deemed most equitable and expedient, it is imperative that a definite policy by both the federal government and the states be speedily adopted, first because of the obvious desirability of utilizing all commercially available water power, and second because of the possibility of public water powers’ passing absolutely into private control.”

With these significant words Herbert Knox Smith, commissioner of corporations, closes a report to the President of the United States on “Water Power Development in the United States.”

The indirect quotation is of advantage when it is not possible or convenient to give a direct quotation, and when it is desirable to give the most important point at the beginning of the lead; for example:

That the tariff problem cannot be successfully solved until Congress has adequate data upon which to base its conclusions, was the statement of Senator Albert J. Beveridge of Indiana in the senate this afternoon in advocating a tariff commission.

“The tariff is fixed by facts; how to get at all these facts is the first question in the whole tariff problem,” said Senator Beveridge. “Common sense and experience, [etc].”

The main points in a report or speech may be effectively summarized in several indirect quotations at the beginning of the story, but the separate clauses must not be too long or complicated in structure. The following examples show how these indirect quotations can be used:

[Pg 131]


That the present one cent a pound postage rate on newspapers and magazines should be doubled; that the actual cost of handling such second class matter is 5½ cents a pound; and that the proposal to charge a higher rate on the advertising sections of magazines is not feasible, is the substance of the report of the commission on second class mail matter submitted to Congress by President Taft today.


That the initiative is the most effective means of giving the people absolute control over their government; that the initiative and referendum do not overthrow representative government but fulfill it; and that truly representative government must represent not misrepresent the people, was the declaration of William J. Bryan in an address before the Ohio Constitutional Convention today.

The keynote beginning gives the dominant idea that runs through the whole utterance, thus:


The establishment of an expert tariff commission by Congress as the best solution of the tariff problem was urged by Senator Albert J. Beveridge in a speech in the senate this afternoon.


How every country in Europe has suffered from the increase in the cost of living is shown in a report submitted by President Taft in a special message to Congress last night.

When the subject is stated in a particularly novel or interesting form it may be the best feature of the story and should accordingly be in the lead. For example:

[Pg 132]

“Why Working Children Need Voting Mothers” was discussed by Mrs. Florence F. Kelley in an address on equal suffrage before a large audience in the Assembly Chamber last night.

The prominence of the speaker or author of the report frequently justifies the placing of his name at the beginning, thus:


Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock advocates government ownership of the telegraph lines of the country in a report made to Congress today.


Ambassador James Bryce explained the method of drawing up bills to be presented for adoption by the British parliament, in addressing the members of the congressional committee at the hearing on the bill providing for the congressional legislative library.

Unusual or significant conditions under which the address was delivered, or the report made, may become the “feature” and may be played up, as in these stories:


Despite the pouring rain, nearly 5,000 people heard Senator La Follette discuss the issues of the campaign at the Auditorium last night.


By their demonstrations of approval and frequent expressions of enthusiasm the members of the legislature gave evidence of their endorsement of the policies of President Taft when he addressed them in the State House this afternoon.

The Body of the Story. Whatever form of lead is used for speeches, reports, or interviews, the body of the story generally consists of paragraphs of direct[Pg 133] verbatim quotations, combined often with summarizing paragraphs. As the interest lies not only in what a man says but also in the way he says it, verbatim quotations are usually preferred to indirect ones. It is frequently necessary to condense speeches and reports so much that large portions must either be omitted or be briefly summarized. It is desirable, as far as possible, to avoid combining in the same paragraphs both direct and indirect quotations, or both direct quotations and summarizing statements.

In paragraphs of direct quotation it is often necessary to insert explanatory phrases, such as, “said Mr. White,” “declared the speaker,” “the report continues,” “explained Mr. White in conclusion,” “the report concludes,” etc., but such phrases should be buried in an unemphatic position in the first sentence of the paragraph. Paragraphs of direct quotation should not begin with such unemphatic phrases as, “Mr. Blank continued by saying, etc.,” “The speaker then said,” “The report continues.” It is likewise ineffective to begin with phrases like, “I believe,” “I feel sure,” “I think,” “I know.” The newspaper reader will take for granted that what the speaker says is what he “thinks,” “believes,” “knows,” or “is sure of,” and the reporter, therefore, may omit these needless phrases entirely or may put them in a less prominent place. Instead of beginning a paragraph with,

“I believe that the income tax is the fairest of all taxes,” said Senator Borah.

it is preferable to omit entirely the phrase “I believe,” or else to put the quotation in the following form:

“The income tax, I believe, is the fairest of all taxes,” said Senator Borah.

[Pg 134]

In paragraphs of indirect quotations or of summaries, it is as necessary to use explanatory phrases as in those of direct quotations, and this explanatory matter should be put in unemphatic positions. The form of the phrases should be varied as much as possible so that the repetition will not be evident. Among the active verbs that may be used in explanatory matter are: “say,” “point out,” “show,” “declare,” “explain,” “insist,” “ask,” “advocate,” “demand,” “continue,” “conclude.” Passive forms include: “considered,” “discussed,” “given,” “described,” “demonstrated.” It must always be made plain by these and other means that all matter not quoted directly gives the substance of the speech or report.

When the body of the story consists of a series of direct quotations, these paragraphs are introduced by such phrases as: “He said in part,” “He spoke in part as follows,” “The report in brief follows,” “His address in full is as follows,” or “The complete report follows.” Such introductory statements end with a colon, and usually stand alone as a separate paragraph. In a continuous quotation extending through several paragraphs, quotation marks are placed at the beginning of each paragraph but at the end of only the last paragraph of the quotation. Quotations within quotations are set off by single quotation marks, and quotations within quotations within quotations by double marks.

It is not always necessary to arrange the matter in the body of the story so that it will follow the exact order in which it was given in the original. When the lead presents the most important statement, the following paragraphs frequently explain or amplify this statement, and then other parts of the speech follow, although in the original they may have preceded. In[Pg 135] rearranging the order of quotations, care should be taken to establish close connection between them and to avoid misrepresenting the thought or spirit of the original. How a long speech is given in brief form partly by direct quotation, partly by indirect quotation, and partly by summarizing statements, is shown in the following example:

Washington, Jan. 2.—Taking up the gage of battle offered by Senator Bailey in his denunciation of direct government measures, Senator Ashurst, of Arizona, the state whose progressiveness delayed her entry into statehood, today made eloquent defense of the initiative, the referendum, and the recall. That the people in the states now using the initiative and referendum, have taken a more active interest in voting upon measures brought before them at the polls than have the members of the United States senate in adopting or rejecting laws, was Ashurst’s reply.

“There is not one record,” he declared, “of an instance where a law has been rejected or accepted under the initiative and referendum by less than 40 per cent of the entire number of voters within a state, yet in the senate itself, composed of 96 members, each paid $7,500 per year to remain there and vote upon measures, generally only 55 to 60 per cent of the total membership vote upon a bill, and frequently a bill is passed or defeated by 29 or 30 per cent of the entire membership.”

The bill to construct a railroad in Alaska, the senator pointed out, passed the senate by a vote of only 32 per cent of the entire membership; on the army appropriation bill in the 62nd Congress only 36 per cent of the membership voted.

“Thus, while it is true that under the initiative and referendum only[Pg 136] about 70 to 80 per cent of the voters of a state go to the polls, at times it is very difficult for the Senate to keep a quorum, notwithstanding that the senators are paid handsome salaries for that very purpose.

“During the trial of the Archbald impeachment case frequently there were only 15 to 20 senators present, though two distinguished republicans and an equal number of distinguished democratic senators to my knowledge have pleaded with senators to remain and listen to the testimony.”

Ashurst then went into an extended legal argument, quoting “fathers of the country,” and the federal supreme court to prove that no special form of government was defined as “republican” in the constitution. He declared that congress was the only court that could declare a given form of government “unrepublican” and that by its action in admitting to membership senators and representatives from states that have adopted the system of direct legislation, congress itself has recognized this form of government to be republican under the terms of the constitution.

Finally the senator defended the right of the people to express themselves directly without regard to precedent, and declared that “in such free expression alone lay the safety of human society, for whose service governments were maintained.”

How to Combine a Series of Speeches. In reporting meetings it is frequently desirable to give indirect or direct quotations from the remarks of the speakers. When several speakers are quoted, the speaker’s name is put at or near the beginning of the paragraph in which he is quoted, so that in a rapid reading of the report, the eye catches at once the change from the words of one speaker to those of[Pg 137] another. The following report of a convention illustrates the method of handling a series of quotations, as well as the manner of giving fairly both sides in a debate:

DENVER, Aug. 26.—Benzoate of soda is not harmful when used to preserve food.

This is the declaration of the convention of the association of State and National Food and Dairy departments, which today indorsed the findings of the Remsen referee board, which had given the preservative a clean bill of health.

The vote, which was 57 to 42, was taken after a hot debate.

The federal government was accused of licensing the sale of “medicated food fit only for the sewer.” Dr. Charles A. L. Reed of Cincinnati, in attacking the Remsen board of scientific experts, which urged the government to allow the use of benzoate of soda as a food preservative, made the charge.

“That recommendation to the department of agriculture benefited only two classes of people,” asserted Dr. Reed, “the manufacturers of benzoate of soda and the manufacturers of food of such a character that it could not be sold without being preserved by the addition of a chemical. The government is now licensing food for consumption which has to be medicated and which otherwise would be fit only for the sewer.

“The referee board experimented with healthy young men, but all of these young men were stuffed with great quantities of food while taking the samples of benzoate of soda and the results observed in them would not apply to the average consumer.”

Dr. Reed’s remarks followed speeches by members of the referee board, including one by Dr. Ira Remsen, its chairman.

[Pg 138]A special committee appointed by the association to investigate the referee board, reported adversely upon its findings.

Dr. Russell H. Chittenden of New Haven, Conn., a member of the referee board, said that three-tenths of a gram of benzoate of soda was administered daily to each of six young men subjects during two months. In the one month each man received per day during the first week six-tenths of a gram, the second week one gram, the third week two grams and the fourth week four grams.

“From our experiments, only one logical conclusion seems possible,” said Dr. Chittenden. “Benzoate in small and large doses up to four grams per day is without deleterious effects upon the human system.”

Dr. Remsen, in discussing the report of the referee board, said in part:

“Since the appointment of the board by President Roosevelt my dealings have been directly with Secretary Wilson. The board understands we have nothing to do with the administration of the pure food law. Our function is to answer such questions as the secretary may put. In regard to benzoate of soda the board was asked to determine two points:

“1. Whether benzoate of soda in such quantities as are likely to be used is or is not injurious to health.

“2. Whether the quality or strength of a food to which benzoate of soda has been added is thereby reduced, lowered, or injuriously affected.

“You know the conclusions to which the board has been led by its work. We agreed upon the form of the report and the knowledge I had gained during the investigation of the subject was of such a character that I felt justified in signing the report.”

Dr. Remsen said he had nothing to do with the actual experimenting with benzoate of soda.

[Pg 139]The position taken by Commissioner J. Q. Emery of Wisconsin and his followers, who are vigorously attacking the use of benzoate of soda is: “If there is any doubt as to the harmfulness of chemicals in food the public should have the benefit of the doubt.”

The Form of the Interview. The interview, as a statement made to one man, the reporter, instead of to a number of persons, as in the case of a speech, may have practically the same kind of beginning as the address or report. Owing to the interest in the man interviewed, his name frequently begins the story, but as what he says is likewise of value, some form of beginning that gives his opinions can also be used advantageously. Although in an interview all of the information is obtained from the person interviewed in response to the reporter’s questions, it is not necessary or generally desirable to include these questions in the written story of the interview. Readers are interested in the statements of the person interviewed, not in the reporter’s questions or actions. When a man refuses to give any information by declaring in response to questions that he has nothing to say, it may be desirable as a matter of news to give the reporter’s questions and the man’s non-committal answers. Generally, however, neither the reporter nor his questions and remarks are given a place in the story of an interview. The following examples illustrate the application to interviews of some of the forms suggested for speeches and reports:


“Two-cent letter postage between the United States and England is a business proposition which should have been put into effect twenty years ago,” was the comment of John Wanamaker, former postmaster general, on the adoption of the reduced rate.

[Pg 140]“I urged this reform in 1890 when I was postmaster general,” said Mr. Wanamaker. “Now I hope that the over-sea postage will be followed by national one-cent postage.

“Within three years the income from over-sea postage under the two-cent charge for stamps will be as great as under the five-cent charge. In fact, two years ago I made the offer to the government in conjunction with several other gentlemen to guarantee that there would be no deficit under the two-cent foreign postage.

“If railroad rates for the carrying of mails were lessened to equality with commercial rates, the two-cent rate might be cut to one-cent without loss to the government.”


The claim that the equal suffrage bill might be repealed at the coming special session of the legislature because the Political Equality League has not filed expense statements under the new corrupt practice law, is sheer nonsense, according to Miss Mary K. Block, secretary of the league.

“Since equal suffrage was not mentioned in the call for the special session of the legislature, it cannot be considered,” said Miss Block. “The story is the work of those opposed to ‘votes for women’ because they know how strong the sentiment for woman suffrage is in this state.”

Combining Several Interviews. When a number of interviews are included in one story, the lead usually presents the consensus of opinions given, and explains or summarizes the results. The separate interviews may be combined in one of several ways. Not infrequently the name of the person expressing the opinion is put at the beginning of the paragraph and is followed by the quotation. In other cases the quotation for each person[Pg 141] is put first in the paragraph, and the explanatory matter follows at the end of the first sentence. The following examples illustrate both forms:


With almost complete unanimity public officials and other prominent men today disapproved of the plan of the Carnegie Foundation to give ex-presidents of the nation an annual pension of $25,000. That the acceptance of such a gratuity was beneath the dignity of one who had held the highest office in the land, was the general objection to the plan. A few public men lauded the pension scheme as giving an opportunity for the nation to profit by the experience and knowledge of those who had served the people.

“If it has come to the point where ex-presidents cannot take care of themselves, we ought to make provision for their admission to a charitable institution,” said Congressman Henry of Texas.

“It isn’t worth doing,” was the comment of Speaker Champ Clark.

“The scheme doesn’t strike me very favorably,” said Senator McCumber.

“I don’t see any objection to it or any great value in it. I think any man elected for a public office ought to work himself back into citizenship when his term expires,” declared Senator Sutherland of Idaho.


That the question of adopting the commission form of government for Hamilton should be submitted to the voters at the election next spring, was the opinion expressed by many Hamilton business men and professional men today. The recent adoption of this form of municipal government by several other cities of the state has led to the discussion of the advisability[Pg 142] of adopting the commission system here.

The centralization of authority and the fixing of responsibility in the management of city affairs are urged by its advocates as important elements in the proposed method of administration. A number of business men expressed the belief that better business methods in the city’s finances would result from the new method.

When interviewed today, those who were in favor of the plan included the following:

WILSON R. HARRISON, President of Commercial National Bank—“The question of commission form of government should certainly be submitted to the citizens at the next election, and I believe that the plan will be adopted.”

ARTHUR C. PERKINS, Secretary of the Harrison Building House Association—“Government by commission appeals to me as the best method of managing municipal affairs in a city of the size of Hamilton, and I hope that the question will be brought before the electorate next spring.”

HENRY R. DE RAIN, of Hawley, Jenks, and De Rain, lawyers—“The adoption of the commission form by seventeen cities of the state indicates a widespread appreciation of the advantages of this centralized control of municipal government. Voters here should have an opportunity to put Hamilton in the list of progressive cities of this state.”


Leaders in finance and business appear to be of the opinion that questions relating to the tariff will be handled conservatively by the Democratic administration. In this belief it is held that the business of the country, which has gained such remarkable[Pg 143] headway, will continue uninterrupted.

James J. Hill, commenting upon the result of the election, declared that the success of the Democratic party would not have an adverse effect on business. He said:

“I feel better over the general outlook than I did before election. An attempt was made to bring about a political revolution, but the American people, while desiring a change, showed their good sense by repudiating the revolutionary doctrines offered them and by sticking to sound principles and established methods of bringing about their wishes.

“Governor Wilson, a deep student of the history of nations, has the training and qualifications which should make him an able president.”

W. E. Corey, formerly president of the United States Steel Corporation, now identified with many industrial and railroad companies, favors a gradual reduction in the tariff, but not a reduction sufficiently drastic to disturb the country’s commercial and financial equilibrium.

“I am convinced,” said Mr. Corey, “that Mr. Wilson will make an able and conservative business president and that the business of the country as a whole will reap great benefits during his administration. That he will handle the tariff and other problems ably and conservatively there seems to be no question.

“All indications point to a continuation of the prosperity the country is now enjoying, and business should be given a further impetus by the outcome of the election.”

Alvin Krech, president of the Equitable Trust Company, predicted a slowing up of business as a result of the Democratic victory and coming tariff revision.

“This will occur,” he said, “until the country can find out definitely what[Pg 144] the new administration intends to do with the tariff, and how drastic and how precipitately the question is attacked. If the new congress proceeds cautiously and gradually there is no doubt that business will finally adjust itself to any changes without serious disturbance.”

B. F. Yoakum, chairman of the board of the ’Frisco Lines, said:

“I am very much pleased with the election of Wilson. From my personal acquaintance with him I am confident he will carry out all the policies he has promised during the campaign. I am sure he is earnestly in favor of everything he advocated, and is entirely competent.

“The Democratic victory does not by any means settle all the big economic questions of the day. In meeting these the Democratic party is on probation. The entire country looks to it for results during the next four years.”

Francis L. Hine, president of the First National Bank, declared that the election of Mr. Wilson presented no immediate possibility of danger for the country, and as regards the future “one can only wait and see.”

News Stories of Trials. In trials in court the reporter has to deal with material not unlike that in speeches, reports, or interviews. The arguments by the attorneys are in the nature of addresses. The questioning of the witnesses on direct and cross examination is not unlike the question and answer method of interviewing. The decisions handed down by the judges are the reports which those officials make. In general, then, many of the same points that have been considered in regard to addresses, reports, and interviews may be applied to court reports.

Writing the Lead. What the lead of the trial story[Pg 145] should contain is determined by the status of the case in court. If a verdict or decision is rendered, that news is naturally the feature. If the trial is not completed, either the most significant testimony or the net result of the day’s proceedings may be made the feature. As the trial goes on from day to day, it is necessary to explain briefly in each story, usually in the lead, what the case deals with, who the parties are, and before whom and where the trial is being conducted, so that the situation will be clear to readers who have not seen the preceding stories of the trial. The reporter must not take for granted that, because all this information was given once when the accused person was arrested, or when the trial was begun, he need not give his readers information every day as to the essential elements of persons, time, place, cause, result, etc. Each of these essentials, as in other stories, may be the feature of the lead. When, for example, a jury has been deliberating for a long time in an interesting case, the exact time at which they reached their verdict may be placed in the first group of words, before the verdict itself.

Hearings before committees of legislative bodies that are getting information and arguments from men for and against proposed legislation, and the taking of testimony by investigating committees, partake so nearly of the nature of trials that the forms and methods of the one apply to the other with little or no modification.

Various forms of leads for reports of trials, hearings, and investigations, given below, show some of the possibilities.


To continue its study of the best methods of issuing railroad stocks and bonds, President Taft’s Railway Securities Committee met today in the banking house of J. W. Smith & Co., 3 William St.

[Pg 146]


That the government was a year too late in bringing its suit against the Standard Oil Company for accepting secret rebates, and the suit in which Judge K. M. Landis imposed the $29,000,000 fine, was brought out yesterday in the government suit for the dissolution of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey under the Sherman Anti-trust Law, before Special Examiner Franklin Ferris in the Custom House.


Fraudulent scales were used to weigh raw sugar on the Brooklyn piers of the Sugar Trust, according to the testimony of Special Agent Richard Parr of the United States Treasury Department, this morning in the preliminary hearing of the government’s suits against the American Sugar Refining Company before Commissioner Shields in the Federal Building.


How suddenly and how radically a woman can exercise her inalienable right to change her mind was shown yesterday before Judge Thomas in the probate court, when in the hearing on the contested will of Mrs. Jane L. Whiting it was shown that she had made one will at 3 o’clock on July 4 last, and another at 7 o’clock in the evening of the same day.


“Go home and serve time with your families,” was the sentence imposed on two men charged with being drunk and disorderly, by Judge Wilkinson in the police court this morning.

[Pg 147]


“Would you send this venerable and honorable man to his grave with the taint of criminal conviction upon his great name?”

Thus Delancey Nicoll inquired of the jury today in Judge Hard’s court, where William E. Williams, aged 83, for forty years a leader of the American bar, is being tried with three other directors of the Cotton Trust on the charge of criminally conspiring to violate the Sherman Anti-trust Law.


“Never in the twenty years that I have been at the head of the women’s department of Blank University have I discriminated against any student because of race or religion.”

This statement made on the witness stand today was the answer of Dean Sarah Brown to the charge preferred by Miss Della Smith in her $10,000 slander suit against Dr. Brown, that she had been driven out of the university because of her religious views.

Forms for Testimony. The bodies of stories of trials and investigations, like those of speeches and reports, consist of direct quotations of the most significant testimony or arguments, with indirect quotations or summaries of other parts not worth quoting verbatim. The same general principles apply, except when it is necessary to give question and answer in direct or cross examination of witnesses in order to bring out significant points. Several forms are used for verbatim reports of such testimony. Sometimes, particularly in New York papers, the attorney’s questions are preceded by the letter “Q” and the witness’s answers by the letter “A,” each question with its answer constituting a separate paragraph. More commonly, the questions and answers[Pg 148] are given in dialogue form as in short stories and novels, with the question followed by the explanatory material in one paragraph, and the answer with necessary explanatory material in another paragraph.

Occasionally, if on direct examination a witness’s testimony, although interrupted by questions, is fairly continuous, the questions may be omitted, and the story told by the witness can thus be given uninterruptedly. When the facts of the testimony rather than the form of it are sufficient, these facts may be given without using either direct or indirect quotations.

How the several forms of reporting testimony appear in newspapers is shown by the following examples which are taken from the body of the story, the leads being omitted here:


Thomas W. Farlin of Freeport, the next witness called before the committee, said that he was engaged in the real estate and fire insurance business, and that he represented Davis, Hibbard & Company, fire insurance brokers of this city.

“Was there a general increase in insurance rates on dwellings and stores in Freeport during the last three years?” asked William C. Brown, counsel for the committee.

“Yes, all the rates have gone up,” said Mr. Farlin.

“Did you learn why the rates were raised?”

“Oh, they joined the Fire Insurance Exchange.”

“Who did?”

“Davis, Hibbard & Company.”

“That’s why the rates were raised?”

“I suppose so.”

“You joined the Exchange too?”



“They told me I’d have no trouble with the new rates.”[Pg 149]

“Were you forced into joining the Exchange?”

“I found that it was necessary in order to write policies.”

Mr. Farlin said that he preferred belonging to the exchange to doing business as an independent broker because it meant more money and less trouble.

“So you’re in favor of the higher rates?”

“Oh, no.”

“But you get more premium, don’t you?”



Mr. Green then took the stand. In response to questions of Henry T. Williams, his counsel, he said that he was 57 years old, had lived in the city 50 years, and was a man of family. He named several social and charitable as well as financial institutions with which he was associated. In 1870, he said, he had entered the employ of the Harrington & Wilson Co. as a shipping clerk in the sugar department, subsequently he had been promoted to the position of cashier, and for the last 23 years had received in that position a salary of $5,000 a year.

Mr. Williams then sought to show that his client had no connection with the weighing of raw sugar on the docks, where the fraudulent practices are alleged to have taken place.

Q.—How much money was paid through your office in the course of a year? A.—Four million dollars.

Q.—So yours was a busy office? A.—Decidedly so.

Q.—How long were the raw sugar clerks in your office? A.—About twenty years.

Q.—Did you regulate their duties in any way? A.—No.

Q.—Were you connected with the docks in any way? A.—No, that was a separate department.[Pg 150]

Q.—How many times a year would you be on the raw sugar docks? A.—Twice a year.

Q.—How often were you in the dock department offices? A.—Only five or six times in twenty-five years.

Q.—Were you ever in the scale houses? A.—Never.

At this point the court adjourned until this afternoon when the direct examination of Mr. Green will be continued.


Mr. Hiller, Mr. Hart’s attorney, then asked Mrs. Hart why it was necessary to have so many gowns.

“At Palm Beach I had to change my gowns three times a day, and I had to have outfits of automobile clothes besides,” said Mrs. Hart.

“Do you wear the same dinner gown twice?” said the attorney.

“Women who can afford it never wear the same gown again at the same place,” she replied smilingly.

“What do you pay for your dinner gowns?”

“Three hundred dollars; sometimes five or six hundred.”


“Certainly,” snapped back the witness.

Court Decisions. The body of reports of important court decisions consists of summaries of the decisions with explanation of their significance, or of quotations from the decision when the language of the decree is important. The following stories are examples:


The first decision of the court of commerce to be received by the supreme court of the United States was reversed in an opinion handed down today.

The highest court gave a signal victory to the interstate commerce commission[Pg 151] by deciding that it has power to compel water lines to report to it regarding intrastate as well as interstate business.

The court of commerce has been subjected to sharp attack in congress because of a series of decisions over-turning work of the interstate commerce commission, and a bill for the abolishment of the tribunal is now pending in the house on a favorable report from a committee.

While the case before the court concerned immediately only water lines, the government attorneys declared that the defeat of the commission in this case would mean that railroads also need not report regarding intrastate business and the commission’s whole system of gathering reports relative to commerce would be worthless.

The order in question required reports regarding operating expenses and operating revenues of water lines, and affected principally lines on the great lakes. The commerce court held that the commission had power to require reports only regarding traffic carried under joint arrangement with railroad carriers, but not as to purely intrastate and port-to-port business.

Justice Day said that a mistake had been made by the commerce court in confusing knowledge of intrastate commerce with regulation of it. He said it was within the power of the commission to require a “showdown of the whole business”, intrastate as well as interstate. Justices Lurton and Lamar dissented.


Power of the Interstate Commerce commission to force “inside information” from steamship lines as to their earnings was affirmed today by the Supreme Court. The proposed scope of the commission’s inquiry into the steamship business of the great lakes[Pg 152] to secure information for adjusting rates, was approved, and the commerce court decision in the matter overruled.

This is the first of the cases involving a dispute of jurisdiction between the commerce court and the commission.

Applications for writs, rehearings, and new trials are often worth reporting at some length, as is shown in the following story:

Declaring that the issues involved in the case are of the “greatest public importance,” the department of justice today joined in the application of the losers in the so-called patent monopoly case, asking a rehearing before a full bench of the Supreme Court. The case was recently decided four to three in favor of the contention that the patentee’s control of his product is absolute.

The government’s application signed by Attorney-General Wickersham and Solicitor-General Lehmann vigorously declares that the court’s decision sustaining the right of a patentee to attach to the sale of an invention, restrictions stipulating that the purchaser must use only such supplies which are not patented as are bought from the patentee of the invention, seriously concerns the United States in a number of civil and criminal cases now pending under the Sherman law.

The decision, the government submits, “extends the power of property held under letters patent beyond the warrant of the constitution and the grant of the patent laws, and publishes it above authority of Congress to regulate commerce among the several states, and above the universal limitation expressed in the maxim ‘So use your own as not to injure another’s.’”

[Pg 153]

How to Make Court Proceedings Interesting. The selection and arrangement of interesting details in legal proceedings is shown in the following court story of a bankruptcy case, in which the reader’s attention is attracted by the feature played up at the beginning:

How to start a furniture installment house on less than $1000, vote yourself a salary of $10,000 a year, furnish a mansion and live like a prince—all on the income from the original invest- ment—was revealed to District Judge Van Buren yesterday in the questioning of John C. Winifred. The court was astounded and angered. When the hearing ended Winifred was on his way to the county jail to begin an indeterminate sentence for contempt as a result of “mushroom” financing.

The story of Winifred’s remarkable success at furniture finance was told during the court’s investigation of the bankrupt Bijou Furniture Company, 610 Devine Street, of which Winifred was owner. Winifred had a branch store at Plaintown. Two days before his creditors filed an involuntary petition of bankruptcy Winifred sold the branch “Furniture Club” business to Frances Hankow for $1,100.

John Whittle, counsel for the receiver, thought the $1,100 belonged to the creditors. Judge Van Buren agreed with him. Winifred was ordered to produce the money. When he appeared in court without it, the judge sent him to jail until he changes his mind.

Winifred operated a “furniture club,” members paying from 25 cents to $1 each week. Its 2,500 members had paid in more than $40,000 when the crash came.

The “furniture wizard” said he began business about two years ago with a capital of less than $1000. He voted himself an annual salary of $10,000, the money being taken from the accumulated[Pg 154] payments of club members. Attorney Whittle further found that the residence at 4621 Oakland Place had been purchased and then furnished without regard to expense. This property rests in the name of Mrs. Winifred. It was admitted that this luxury was paid for by the poor who can afford to buy furniture only by making a small payment each week.

Quoting from Publications. Government publications, pamphlets, books, and magazines often contain material for good news stories, particularly when copies can be secured so that the story may be printed simultaneously with the publication of the book or magazine. The use that may be made of an article in a scientific publication is shown in the following story, which in form is like the stories of speeches and other utterances discussed above:

Serious dangers in children’s parties, dancing schools, and even kindergartens are pointed out by Dr. Thomas S. Southworth of New York, writing in the Journal of the American Medical association. He finds them agents in spreading infectious colds leading to more serious ailments.

Against “light colds” themselves he warns parents, and urges the use of rational preventive measures. To parental carelessness, selfishness, and lack of common sense he attributes much of the illness among little children.

“The amount of injury done to young children each year by such colds can scarcely be estimated,” says Dr. Southworth. “During their prevalence the possibilities of infection are excellent if the child rides in public conveyances, or is taken to hotels or crowded shops.

“Children’s parties or dancing schools for the very young come under[Pg 155] the same ban. It is an open question whether the greatly increased opportunity for major and minor infections in kindergartens does not more than offset the real advantages they offer.

“Excluding exceptional cases, I am of the opinion that safeguarding the health of the young child is the more important consideration, and that any home worthy of the name should be able to furnish all the simple instruction and direction of the play instinct the child requires.”


  1. Get advance copies of speeches, statements, and reports when it is possible.
  2. Give direct, verbatim quotations whenever they are effective.
  3. Don’t misrepresent a speaker by “playing up” a quotation that, taken from its context, is misleading.
  4. Combine excerpts into a coherent, unified story.
  5. Select the form of beginning best suited to the subject matter.
  6. Set off as a paragraph a direct quotation of more than one sentence at the beginning of a story.
  7. Avoid too many or too involved “that” clauses in the lead.
  8. Put strong direct or indirect quotations at beginnings of paragraphs.
  9. Don’t place unemphatic phrases at the beginning of a paragraph, such as, “The speaker then said that,” etc.
  10. Avoid as far as possible combinations of direct and indirect quotations in the same paragraph.
  11. Avoid “I believe,” “I think,” etc., at the beginning of sentences of direct quotation.
  12. Make separate paragraphs of introductory statements like “He said in part,” and end them with a colon.
  13. Give in the lead of each day’s story of a trial, the essential explanatory details concerning the case.
  14. Vary explanatory phrases; don’t use repeatedly in the same story “he said,” “the report continues,” etc.[Pg 156]
  15. Don’t fail to enclose in quotation marks every direct quotation.
  16. Use single quotation marks for quotations within other quotations.
  17. Use quotation marks only at the beginning of each paragraph of a continuous quotation of several paragraphs and at the end of the last paragraph.
  18. Quote important testimony verbatim.
  19. Keep yourself out of your interviews.


1. Write a news story of 500 words on the following address by Senator William E. Borah of Idaho on “Why We Need an Income Tax,” which you may say was delivered before a large audience at the Auditorium last night under the auspices of the Progressive Republican Club:

One of the many unfortunate things imposed from first to last upon this country by reason of the existence of slavery was the compromise in the constitution of the United States providing that direct taxes should be imposed in accordance with population.

To levy taxes according to population upon any kind of property is impracticable and cumbersome even when the tax is confined to the kind of property contemplated by the framers of the constitution. It is not too much to say that the clause with reference to imposing a direct tax would never have found its way into the constitution but through the fear which arose out of the belief that the North might impose an arbitrary and unjust tax upon slaves.

The discussion first arose over the protection of the slaves, and to guard against this the Southern delegates insisted upon an equal representation in Congress with the North. Gouverneur Morris and others declared they would never consent to counting a slave equal to his master. The discussion finally took a wider range owing to the existence of large tracts of land in the South of less value per acre than the land in the North; hence it was believed that these lands might be taxed unfairly.

At last, therefore, it was provided that direct taxes should be imposed according to population, and direct taxes, in my opinion,[Pg 157] referred alone to slaves and lands and the improvements on lands.

The Supreme Court in the Pollock case extended and broadened the terms of this somewhat unfortunate compromise so that it now not only covers lands but income from land, personal property, and income from personal property. This decision was made possible by invoking a mere technicality, that is, that a tax upon the rents of land is a tax upon the land.

I am not going to discuss at this time the decision further than to say I am one of those who believe that the income tax decision is as indefensible as a matter of law as the Dred Scott decision, and fraught with far more danger in its ultimate effect, if it is to become the settled law of the land, to the Republic.

The income tax is the fairest and most equitable of all the taxes. It is the one tax which approaches us in the hour of prosperity and departs in the hour of adversity. The farmer though he may have lost his entire crop must meet the taxes levied upon his property. The merchant though on the verge of bankruptcy must respond to the taxes imposed. The laborer who goes to the store to buy his food, though it be his last, must buy with whatever extra cost there may be imposed by reason of customs duties.

But the income tax is to be met only after you have realized your income. After you have met your expenses, provided for your family, paid for the education of your children for the year, then, provided you have an income left, you turn to meet the obligations you owe to the government. For instance, according to amendments recently pending relative to the income tax, a man with an income of ten thousand dollars would pay the modest sum of one hundred dollars. “Man as a human being owes services to his fellows, and one of the first of these is to support the government which makes civilization possible.”

It seems incomprehensible that anyone would seriously contend that property and wealth should not bear their fair share of the burdens of the general government. Adam Smith says, “The subjects of every state ought to contribute toward the support of the government as nearly as possible in proportion to their respective abilities, that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the state.”

Notwithstanding our large standing army, our large navy, our all but criminal extravagance as a government, men are found who still unblushingly argue that this burden must all be laid upon consumption and nothing upon wealth, that is, that the man of most ordinary means must pay practically as much to the general government as the man with his uncounted millions. It is strange indeed that men can bring themselves to believe in so unfair and unjust a position.

They soothe their consciences to some extent by saying that it is a just tax, a fair tax, and that the property should indeed bear[Pg 158] its proportion of the expenses of the general government but an income tax causes men to commit perjury! Of course the man who says this would resent the idea that he would commit perjury, but his evangelical spirit leads him to look with particular care to the salvation of his neighbor’s soul. There is not a state in the Union today but has laws just as exacting with reference to accounting with personal property, just as onerous as an income tax law would be, and just as liable to encourage perjury. Yet the tax gatherer does not stop gathering taxes.

They say it is inquisitorial. Do you know of any kind of taxes which are not inquisitorial? For instance, under the internal revenue system now in existence, the whiskey of the citizen is taken possession of by the government, placed in a warehouse, locked up, and a key given to a United States official. In the collection of our customs duties, packages and the baggage of the citizen are taken, opened and inspected, and, male or female though the citizens may be, they are sometimes taken into a room and searched. Nothing could be more inquisitorial than this.

All these arguments are put forth in the hope of leading us away from the great and fundamental principle of equity in taxation, and that is that every man should respond to the burdens of the government in accordance with his ability. It is nothing less than a crime to put all the burdens of this government on consumption.

I think those who advocate the income tax merely as a revenue producing proposition rob the proposition of its moral foundation. We should contend for an income tax not simply for the purpose of raising revenue but for the purpose of framing a revenue system which will distribute the burdens of government between consumption and accumulated wealth, which will enable us to call upon property and wealth not in an unfair and burdensome way but in a just and equitable way to meet their proportionate expenses of the government, for certainly it will be conceded by all that the great expense of government is in the protection of property and of wealth.

A tax placed upon consumption is based upon what men want and must have. A tax placed upon wealth falls upon those who have enough and to spare and therefore have more which it is necessary for the government to protect. “All the enjoyments which a man can receive from his property come from his connection with society. Cut off from all social relations, a man would find wealth useless to him. In fact, there could be no such thing as wealth without society. Wealth is what may be exchanged and requires for its existence a community of persons with reciprocal wants.”

The general government, as we have said, has its armies and its navies and its great burden of expense for the purpose, among other things, of protecting property, protecting gathered and accumulated[Pg 159] wealth, of enabling men to make fortunes and to preserve their fortunes, and there is no possible argument founded in law or in morals why these protected interests should not bear their proportionate burden of government.

No man in his right mind would make an assault upon wealth as such, or upon property as such, or upon the honest acquisition of property—we simply call upon those who have the good fortune to have accumulated wealth to respond to the expenses of the great government under which they live and thrive.

2. Write a news story of 250 words on the following excerpts from a report made by the Division of Education of the Russell Sage Foundation on “A Comparative Study of Public School Systems in the Forty-eight States,” playing up the feature that you think will be of general interest to the readers of a daily paper in the metropolis of your state:

The average annual salary paid to public school teachers in the United States as a whole is $485. In one state, North Carolina, the average is only $200 per year. In another, Mississippi, it is $210, and in South Carolina $212. The wages received by school teachers constitute a measure of two things: first, the quality of ability of the teacher; second, the value the community puts upon the teacher’s services. The fact that the teacher’s wages are lower than those paid for almost any other sort of service means that as a nation we are neither asking for nor getting a high grade of service, and as a nation we place a low valuation on the teacher’s work.

While it is difficult to get accurate data on wages, the best available figures indicate that the average annual wages received by workers in five great occupations are about as follows:—

Carpenters $802
Coal miners 600
Factory workers 550
Common laborers 513
Teachers 485

Throughout the southern states thousands of rural teachers earn less than $150 per year. In one New England state hundreds of teachers earn less than $6.00 per week. In one county in a central Atlantic state the average for all teachers is $129 per year. In one southern state convicts from the penitentiaries are let to contractors at the rate of about $400 per year, while the state pays its teachers about $300 per year.

The average annual salary of teachers in the public schools in[Pg 160] each state in 1910 and the rank of the state, based on the average annual salary of school teachers, is as follows:—

1. California, $918; 2. Arizona, $817; 3. New York, $813; 4. Massachusetts, $757; 5. New Jersey, $731; 6. Washington, $692; 7. Montana, $645; 8. Colorado, $642; 9. Rhode Island, $647; 10. Utah, $592; 11. Illinois, $588; 12. Connecticut, $561; 13. Pennsylvania, $554; 14. Idaho, $549; 15. Ohio, $524; 16. Indiana, $523; 17. Oregon, $516; 18. Maryland, $515; 19. Minnesota, $486; 20. Michigan, $480; 21. Nevada, $470; 22. Wisconsin, $456; 23. Missouri, $443; 24. Wyoming, $439; 25. Kansas, $429; 26. Louisiana, $415; 27. Delaware, $414; 28. Nebraska, $411; 29. Oklahoma, $408; 30. Texas, $384; 31. New Mexico, $348; 32. North Dakota, $339; 33. Kentucky, $337; 34. South Dakota, $329; 35. New Hampshire, $328; 36. West Virginia, $323; 37. Alabama, $314; 38. Iowa, $302; 39. Tennessee, $293; 40. Arkansas, $284; 41. Florida, $276; 42. Virginia, $268; 43. Vermont, $266; 44. Georgia, $250; 45. Maine, $244; 46. South Carolina, $212; 47. Mississippi, $210; 48. North Carolina, $200.

[Pg 161]



Special News Fields. Although practically all kinds of news stories conform to the general principles explained and illustrated in preceding chapters, the application of these principles to particular kinds of news may be considered in detail. On all but small papers the gathering and the writing of news in such special fields as sports, society, and markets are regarded as sufficiently different in character from general reporting to warrant having special editors for these departments. Each of a number of special kinds of reporting requires more or less expert knowledge, which a reporter who specializes in that field acquires as a result of training and experience. Sometimes, however, a general reporter may be sent out to cover an athletic contest or a society event, and he should be prepared to do either successfully. Every reporter should familiarize himself with the best methods of handling all kinds of news.

Sporting News Stories. The constantly increasing importance attached by newspapers to news of sports, particularly to that of baseball, makes it important for reporters to know the peculiarities of sporting news stories. The reporting of athletic contests is not always an easy task even when the reporter is familiar with all the details of the sport. In a football game, for example, it is difficult to determine which of the players carries the ball or makes a tackle in a given play unless the reporter knows each player and can recognize him[Pg 162] quickly on the field. In baseball games the reporter must be able to keep a complete score from which to write his story and make his summary score. Quickness and accuracy of observation are essential in getting the facts correctly in any sporting event.

Reporting a Football Game. A football game affords a good opportunity for the student reporter to get excellent practice in covering an athletic contest. In preparing to report a game, he should get from the coach or the captain the correct line-up of each team and the names of the officials. If the line-up is written on a piece of cardboard and arranged so that the exact position of each player can be seen at a glance, the writer can refer to it constantly in reporting the plays. The way to arrange the line-up is shown below:

Chicago   Wisconsin
Williams—L.E. | R.E.—Halpin
McDonald—L.H.B. Frean—L.T. | R.T.—Muldon R.H.B.—Lynch
Johnson—L.G. | R.G.—Peake
Smith—F.B. Pinch—Q.B.   Hool—C. | C.—Du Plain Q.B.—Keeler F.B.—Holt
Skillub—R.G. | L.G.—O’Neil
Kidder—R.H.B. Dillon—R.T. | L.T.—Minton L.H.B.—Dye
Reisen—R.E. | L.E.—Schmidt

The reporter watches both teams carefully to see which men make each play, and as soon as the teams line up again, he notes the position that each of these men takes, so that he may identify them from his line-up card. As the game progresses he is able to recognize some of the players who repeatedly take prominent parts, and he need not refer to the line-up so frequently. The reporter may take notes on the plays as they are made, or, if it is necessary to mail or telegraph the story very soon after the game is over, he may write a running account as the game progresses, adding the lead after it is over.

In the choice and the arrangement of details, the story of a football game is not unlike other news stories. In the lead are placed the essential facts, which are[Pg 163] the result, the score, the causes of victory and defeat, the teams engaged, the time and place of the contest, and any important circumstances. Because every reader is most interested in the result, that fact is usually “played up” as the feature. Why one team lost and the other won, or why the score was tied, the second fact in point of interest, is likewise given a prominent place at the beginning of the lead. A characterization of the playing of each team, an account of how and when the scoring was done, mention of the work of star players, and a description of the crowd, the condition of the field, and the weather, are the other details which are put in the lead. Following the lead is the story of the game told in as much detail as the assignment requires. If a short account is desired, only the important plays are given; if a full report is wanted, every play is described. After each score is made, and at the end of the report of each quarter, the complete score up to that point is given. At the end of the story are placed the line-up, a summary of the plays, and the names of the officials. The story given below may be taken as typical:

New Haven, Conn., Nov. 23.—Harvard trampled over Yale with a score of 20 to 0 on Yale field today, when the crimson eleven, taking advantage of Yale’s back field errors, made two touchdowns and two field goals. This victory carries the football championship of the East to Cambridge.

Harvard scored a touchdown and a field goal in both the first and third periods. The first score came when Storer recovered the ball which Wheeler, the Yale quarterback, dropped on being tackled, and sprinted twenty-five yards to the goal line. Hardwick kicked goal. A minute later, another Yale muff gave Brickley his chance to kick the first field goal.

A fumble by Flynn at the opening of[Pg 164] the third period gave the ball to Harvard, and in the scrimmage Brickley dashed eighteen yards for the second touchdown. He caught a Yale forward pass a few minutes later and ran forty-two yards, and, after a few plays, kicked the ball over the cross bar for the second field goal.

At no stage of the game did Yale have a chance to win, and only once did the team have a chance to score. That opportunity came during the fourth period, when they showed a versatility of attack that fairly swept the crimson eleven off their feet and brought the ball in a steady series of rushes over a stretch of sixty yards before it was lost on downs. But the flash came too late, and while it was at its height the most optimistic of the blue supporters could see nothing more than a chance to blot out the ignominy of a scoreless defeat.

What Yale did not do would fill a volume. Failure to catch punts was the great fault, a fault which happened so often that it might be called a habit. Wheeler muffed one in the opening period which paved the way for the first Harvard touchdown; Flynn missed one in the third period and opened the avenue for the other. Between times the ball was dropping from Eli arms so often that it seemed strange when it was caught.

Harvard’s splendidly finished team, good in all around play, worked to its limit a consistent kicking game against a team unable to handle punts. Little effort was made to test the strength of the blue line. The crimson offense was based almost entirely on getting down the field under Felton’s high spiral punts and taking advantage of the slippery fingers of Wheeler and Flynn. When stopped from tackle to tackle, they twice used fake plays with wide end runs for clever gains.

As in all this season’s games, the[Pg 165] brilliancy of Brickley’s running and goal kicking outshone the individual play of his team-mates. Twice he intercepted Yale forward passes, one of which he turned into a run of forty-two yards. The second touchdown was due solely to his speed down the field and to his keen eye in recovering Flynn’s muff, which he converted into a touchdown in the next scrimmage. He scored two out of his four attempts at field goals and missed the other two by a few feet.

Bomeisler, Yale’s star end, although twice taken out of the game because of the old injury to his shoulder, did the most remarkable work seen on Yale field since the days of Tom Shevlin. He was down the field like a race-horse under Lefty Flynn’s punts, and besides tackling with unerring accuracy, he threw himself so hard that the man was forced back considerably from the spot where he caught the ball.

Yale won the toss and chose to defend the north goal, the Crimson facing the sun. Flynn kicked off for Yale. The ball sailed behind the Harvard goal and was taken out to Harvard’s 20-yard line for scrimmage. Felton, on first down, kicked it back to the Yale 20-yard line. Flynn’s short kick drove the ball out of bounds at the Eli 40-yard line. Harvard’s backs then crashed through irresistibly until they reached the 20-yard line. The Yale defense grew compact at her 20-yard line, and two of Wendell’s smashes netted only a yard apiece. On the third down Brickley tried his first drop kick for goal, the ball going outside of the upright. Flynn punted to Harvard’s 40-yard line and Felton immediately returned it to the Yale 20-yard mark. A 15-yard penalty set Yale back to her 5-yard line. Flynn’s beautiful punt was muffed by Gardner at the Harvard 40-yard line, but it was recovered by Hardwick. Felton[Pg 166] punted out of bounds at Yale’s 40-yard line. Twice the Felton-Flynn duel brought exchanges of kicks without gains. The last Felton effort, however, dropped the ball into Wheeler’s lap and he muffed squarely. Storer seized it at the Yale 30-yard line and, aided by splendid interference by O’Brien and Parmenter, tore all the rest of the way for a touchdown. Hardwick kicked the goal. Score: Harvard 6, Yale 0.

Flynn kicked off behind the Harvard goal, and, from the Harvard 20-yard line, Felton immediately returned it. Yale was now in a panic, and Wheeler’s second muff dropped the ball under three sliding Harvard tacklers at the Yale 30-yard line. Yale got in hotter water through a 15-yard penalty, but Wendell’s plunges were held till third down, when Brickley registered Harvard’s second score through a faultless drop-kicked goal from the Yale 30-yard line. Following Felton’s return of Flynn’s kick-off, the first period closed. Score: Harvard 10, Yale 0.

[The detailed report of the other quarters follows,
and then the line-up is given.]

The line-up:

L. E. Avery | Felton L. E.
L. T. Gallauer | Storer L. T.
L. G. Cooney | Pennock L. G.
C. Ketcham | Parmenter C.
R. G. Pendleton | Trumbull R. G.
R. T. W. Warren | Hitchcock R. T.
R. E. Bomeisler | O’Brien R. E.
Q. Wheeler | Gardner Q.
L. H. Philbin | Hardwick L. H.
R. H. Spaulding | Brickley R. H.
F. Flynn | Wendell F.

Substitutions: Yale—Cornell, for Wheeler; Dyer, for Cornell; Wheeler, for Dyer; Sheldon, for Bomeisler; Bomeisler, for Sheldon; Sheldon, for Bomeisler; W. Howe, for Sheldon; Carter, for Avery; Talbot, for Gallauer; Pumpelly, for Philbin; Merkle, for Flynn; Baker, for Merkle; Martin, for Pendleton; Reed, for W. Warren.[Pg 167]

Harvard—T. Frothingham, for Storer; Wigglesworth, for Parmenter; Driscoll, for Trumbull; Lawson, for Hitchcock; Hollister, for O’Brien; Bradley, for Gardner; Bradlee, for Hardwick; Lingard, for Brickley; Graustein, for Wendell.

Summary: Score—Harvard 20, Yale 0. Touchdowns—Storer, Brickley. Goals—Hardwick 2. Goals from field—Brickley 2. Referee—W. S. Langford, Trinity. Umpire—D. L. Fultz, Brown. Head Linesman—W. N. Morice, Pennsylvania. Time—15:00 periods.

“Covering” a Baseball Game. The accepted methods of reporting baseball games and other athletic contests, and the form in which stories of them are written, are very similar to those described above for football. The example given below shows the application of the general principles to baseball:

New York, May 6.—New York took second place from Philadelphia in a 3 to 2 game today notwithstanding that the Quakers hit Mathewson two and a quarter times as hard as the Giants hit Foxen.

Of their four hits New York grouped three in one inning, the sixth, in which they made their three runs; while Philadelphia got three of their nine hits in the eighth with but two runs. There was a shade of difference in the consecutiveness of the bunched hits, and that was where Mathewson was more effective than Foxen. A comparison of the work of the two pitchers, however, from the point of view of adverse runs, shows that there was an error by “Matty” which accounted for one Quaker tally, a wild throw in running down Bates, who soon afterwards scored.

The game was sharply played with a good deal of snappy fielding. Devlin and Knabe were fine on ground balls, each ranging swiftly to the left and gathering up everything within the limit. Doyle in the fifth made a star pickup of a hard ball to his right.[Pg 168]

Poor base running lost the Phillies a run in the fourth. Grant opened up with a hit, Magee sacrificed, and Bransfield hit to Doyle, who fumbled. The ball went through Doyle, and had Grant been watchful and kept right on home, he would have scored. As it was, he hesitated, then started for the plate, and was caught trying to get back to third.

New York’s scoring in the sixth began with Doyle’s liner to center. Murray laid down a bunt and put it where it did the most good. Titus was far out when he dropped Seymour’s fly to let Doyle and Murray move up a base each. Fletcher hit a fine one to right and brought Doyle and Murray home. Seymour scored on Doyle’s fly to Magee.

In the eighth with Foxen out, Philadelphia started off on their two tallies. Titus sent a two-base hit out along the chalk-mark to the south-east. Bates laced a single through the diamond and brought in Titus. Mathewson caught Bates napping, but overthrew the base in the run down and Bates scurried back to first. Grant was thrown out by Mathewson, Magee was passed, and Bransfield singled, letting Bates score. Two were left on bases when Knabe went out, Mathewson to Merkle.

The score:

ab. h. p. a. e. | ab. h. p. a. e.
Titus, rf 5 1 2 0 1 | Devore, lf 4 0 0 0 0
Bates, lf 4 2 2 0 0 | Doyle, 2b 3 1 1 6 1
Grant, 3b 4 1 1 1 0 | Murray, rf 4 1 1 0 0
Magee, cf 1 0 5 0 0 | Seym’r, cf 4 0 1 0 0
B’field, 1b 4 2 12 0 0 | Fleth’r, ss 3 1 1 0 0
Knabe, 2b 4 1 0 7 0 | Devlin, 3b 2 0 1 4 0
Dool’n, ss 4 1 1 1 0 | Merkle, 1b 2 0 18 1 0
Dooin, c 4 0 1 1 0 | Meyers, c 3 0 4 2 0
Foxen, p 3 1 0 2 0 | Math’on, p 3 1 0 7 1
*Ward 1 0 0 0 0 |          
–––––––––––– | ––––––––––––
Totals 34 9 24 12 1 | Totals 28 4 27 20 2

*Batted for Foxen in the ninth inning.

Philadelphia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0—2
New York 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 .—3

Runs—Philadelphia—Titus, Bates. New York—Doyle, Murray, Seymour. First base on errors—Philadelphia, 1; New York, 1.[Pg 169] Left on bases—Philadelphia, 8; New York, 5. First base on balls—Off Foxen, 3; off Mathewson, 2. Struck out—By Foxen, 1; by Mathewson, 3. Two base hit—Titus. Sacrifice hit—Magee. Sacrifice fly—Devlin. Stolen base—Fletcher. Balk—Foxen. Umpire in chief—Rigler. Assistant umpire—Emslie. Time—1 hour and 30 minutes.

The Style of Sporting News Stories. The style of sporting news stories is marked by the use of terms peculiar to the game or sport and often by the slang that is popular at the time, particularly the slang that is in vogue among those interested in each sport. Young reporters, and some older ones, too, seem to think that they can best prove their knowledge of sports by using in their stories as much as possible of the slang current among the professionals and their followers in the sport. On the other hand, some of the recognized authorities on sports write interesting and readable accounts of contests without indulging in such sporting slang. A number of sporting editors, in order to give variety to their daily reports of baseball games, have sought to coin new phrases and figures of speech, and the result has sometimes been so clever and amusing that these writers have established a considerable reputation for novelty of expression. Too frequently, however, the imitations of the work of the successful, clever few have not been effective, and consequently have not been so good as simple, direct reports. Originality of expression is as desirable in sporting news stories as it is elsewhere, but a style that is marked by little more than cheap humor and vulgar slang has nothing to commend it.

Society News. Society news is usually collected, written, and edited by the society editor, almost invariably a woman. In order to insure accuracy, facts for such stories should be obtained directly from those concerned in the event. Announcements of engagements[Pg 170] and of weddings, particularly, must never be accepted for publication unless furnished by the persons themselves or their families, as would-be practical jokers not infrequently undertake to make victims of their acquaintances by sending to newspapers false announcements of this kind. Some newspapers distribute printed forms to be filled out by those giving important social entertainments, and these are sent out several days in advance so that they may be returned in time and the facts correctly reported.

The form and style of news stories of many society events are determined to some extent by social usages. Those who desire to become society editors, and reporters generally, because they may be assigned to cover society events, should notice carefully how news of this sort is written up in society columns. The typographical style often differs from that of the other parts of the paper. The whole story of a wedding, reception, or other social event, in many papers is given in one paragraph, although it may consist of several hundred words. A concise story giving all the essential details, and avoiding trite expressions like “charming,” “beautiful,” and “tastily,” is the most acceptable one.

Conventional forms for such typical events as weddings, receptions, and announcements of engagements are given below:

Announcements of Engagements


Mr. and Mrs. William Gideon Hethrington of Trenton, N. J., formerly of Chicago, announce the engagement of their daughter, Marjorie, to Ernest Wilson Swan, son of Mr. and Mrs. Carl J. Swan, of Cleveland.

[Pg 171]


The engagement is announced of Miss Ida Wellington Winter of St. Paul, to Milton Gilman Wells, son of Col. John Ottway Wells, U. S. A., Military Attaché in Panama, and nephew of Mayor Stephen S. Wells, Military Attaché to the American Embassy in Paris. The announcement was made by Mr. and Mrs. Gordon S. Stanford of St. Paul, aunt and uncle of Miss Winter, at whose home at Leonard Place the wedding will take place some time next month. Mr. Wells was graduated from Princeton in 1906, and is in business in this city. He lives at the Princeton Club, 121 East Twenty-first Street.



Mr. and Mrs. James H. Hayes of Winton, N. Y., announce the marriage of their daughter Helen to Eugene Payson Drown, formerly of Chicago. The wedding took place Wednesday in Brookville, N. Y. Mr. and Mrs. Drown will reside in Brookville.


The marriage of Miss Rose Eldred White, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph White of 230 Wilmington Avenue, to Nathaniel Robert Owen, will take place Monday evening, Dec. 9, at the Hotel Sherman in the presence of the immediate families.


The marriage of Miss Ruth Oswick, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Pemberton Hines Oswick of 511 North Highland avenue, Pembroke Park, to Franklin Isquith, was celebrated last night at 9 o’clock at the First Congregational Church of Pembroke Park, Dr. John Howard Grosvenor performing the ceremony. Mrs. Holton, sister of the bride, was matron of honor. Miss Ina Isquith,[Pg 172] sister of the bridegroom, was maid of honor, and there were six bridesmaids—the Misses Vera Pynch of St. Louis, Bertha Marquis, Ethel High, Marguerite Winton, Doris Hyde, and Edna Stone. Franklin Williams Oswick, brother of the bride, was best man and the ushers were W. W. Collins, Leonard Danzic, Richard De Long, Pembroke Johns, Chester Danzic, and Richard Lewis of Chicago. Elizabeth Reed, cousin of the bride, was flower girl and Burton Davies of Oak Park acted as master of ceremonies. The bridal gown was of ivory charmeuse satin with an overdress of chantilly trimmed with pearls, and the bridal shower bouquet was of lilies of the valley and brides’ roses. The matron of honor wore lavender brocaded satin trimmed with lace and crystals and carried lavender sweet peas. The maid of honor’s gown was of pink embroidered Japanese brocaded silk trimmed with Venetian lace. She carried lavender chrysanthemums. The bridesmaids wore frocks of the different colors of the rainbow. Two were in blue, two in yellow, and two in green. They carried white chrysanthemums. A reception for 500 guests followed at the Colonial Club of Pembroke Park. The decorations were chrysanthemums, smilax and palms. Mr. and Mrs. Isquith will be at home in Los Angeles after Feb. 1.

Luncheons, Receptions, Etc.


Mrs. Wilson McHain gave a luncheon yesterday at the Woman’s Athletic Club in honor of Miss Florence Raymond Baugh, who is to be married to Dale Cranford Haynes of Buffalo, N. Y., on Saturday. Covers were laid for six, and the guests were Miss Gertrude Binton, Mrs. Harrison Stanton, Mrs. Arthur G. Nain, and Mrs. Willard S. De Long of Buffalo.

[Pg 173]


Mr. and Mrs. Donald White McNabey, Markham Place, will give a reception on Thursday from 5 to 7, in honor of their daughter, Miss Dorothy McNabey, who will be presented to society. Following the reception, the young people in the assisting party will be entertained at a supper and informal dance.

Club News


The civics and philanthropy class of the Highland Park Culture Club will hold its first meeting of the year this morning at 10 o’clock at the Hotel Van Buren. Mrs. Arthur G. Antwick is chairman.


An ornamental public drinking fountain of marble and granite, bearing arc electric lights at its top, will be erected by the Woman’s Outdoor League and placed in some prominent public place, according to plans arranged at a meeting of the league in the Hamilton Hotel yesterday afternoon. “The league has erected and placed six small public drinking fountains in congested districts of the city,” said Mrs. Franklin Renton, president of the league, “and we will now erect a fountain that will be a credit to the outdoor work of our organization and a beauty spot for the city. As soon as we have determined upon the site where the fountain will be placed we will arrange for proper public ceremonies dedicating it to the city.” During the last year the league has erected a bungalow in the Zoölogical Gardens besides supervising other outdoor work. Officers chosen for 1913 were:

President—Mrs. Dean C. White.

First vice-president—Mrs. Albert D. Halen.[Pg 174]

Second vice-president—Miss Willa Murray.

Secretary—Mrs. Parkins Greene.

Treasurer—Miss Clarice Morgan.


The Social Economics Club met yesterday afternoon at 2 o’clock in the Woman’s Temple. Mrs. John Robins Bell in a paper on “Industrialism” advocated vocational training in the public schools in connection with the regular school course. Miss Viola Harding sang, accompanied by Miss Alice Lanning.

Banquets and Holiday Celebrations. News stories of banquets and of various forms of holiday celebrations are not usually put in the society columns and are not covered by the society editor. If at a banquet after-dinner speaking is the important part of the event, such portions of the speeches as are of great interest are given the most space. If the speaking is not a feature, a description is given of the occasion, and particularly of any interesting incidents or unusual circumstances. For stories of holiday celebrations, such as Christmas festivities, a general descriptive lead serves to introduce accounts of various forms of celebration by societies, at public institutions, and on the streets.

How such an event as a banquet may be written up at some length in an unconventional manner with enough life and interest to make it entertaining reading, is shown in the following news story taken from the New York Sun:

If you’ve ever sat in the enemy’s camp when the Blue eleven lunged its last yard for a touchdown and had your hair ruffled by the roar that swept across the gridiron, you can guess how 1,500 Yale men yelled at the Waldorf last night for Bill Taft of ’78.[Pg 175]

It came all at once, a terrific, ear-jarring crash of cheers that danced the glasses on the table tops and fluttered the big flags around the balconies. They had ceased the pounding chant of “Boola.” The classes from ’53 to ’08 had flung the Brek-a-kek-kek, Ko-ax, Ko-ax from wall to wall, and the orchestra, away up under the roof, had dropped the horns and fiddles from sheer weariness. There was a moment of unexpected quiet.

Suddenly the electric lights died all over the grand ballroom. A searchlight sprayed its rays squarely on a drop curtain which pictured the old Brick Row as it was in the days when President Taft was a freshman. You could see the rail fence, even the initials cut along the boards—“W. H. T.,” “O. T. B.,” “A. T. H.” Tall elms leaned toward the ancient buildings and spread their foliage over the dingy roofs.

The broad band of light moved up and down over the picture, hesitated, then fell squarely on President Taft as he sat with President Arthur Twining Hadley of the university and President James R. Sheffield of the Yale Club. The President’s head was half turned toward the picture of the old Brick Row. He wasn’t smiling.

The yell started, spread all over the room and gathered force as man after man opened the throttle of his lungs and turned on the full power that was in him and roared and thundered until the lights went out again. In the darkness presently the old Brick Row appeared and took form. Soft lights gleamed at the windows of the dormitories. The chapel bell tolled faintly. The cheerful voices of freshmen calling to freshmen were heard very faintly. A shout only less mighty than the salute to the President shook the big room and shortly passed to laughter.[Pg 176]

Somebody started a chant. The Yale graduates took it up by hundreds until 1,500 of them shouted in rhythm:

Oh, Freshman, put out that light!

Oh, Freshman, put out that light!

Oh, Freshman, put out that light!

That was Yale’s greeting to Taft of ’78. The welcome to President William Howard Taft, who happened to have been graduated from Yale and not some other university—Harvard, say, or Princeton—came later, when President Sheffield of the Yale Club and President Hadley sent big words over his head and admitted that the character of the man had something to do with his rise in the world as well as the Yale training.

But there were many moments when the graduates put aside the fact that they were entertaining the President. The old men who were graduated a little before or a little after Mr. Taft and had known him in college gravitated toward the dais by twos and threes, laughing and chuckling and poking each other in the ribs. Mr. Taft was on his feet most of the time.

“Bill, I wonder if you remember this one—” and Tom of ’78 or Jack of ’79 would reel off a story or a joke that hadn’t been released maybe for thirty years. There was the story of the little red hen—but it need not be repeated. Mr. Taft remembered it, that was certain.

And while the handshaking and the reminiscences and the old jokes were keeping Mr. Taft busy on the dais, a cannonading of cheers and songs was fired at him from every table in the room. They sang him “The Old Brick Row” and “Yale Will Win,” and when they had run through these they took up “Boola” again and again until the sweep of its rhythm had drawn the voice of every man in the room, including the President’s.[Pg 177]

It was the biggest dinner ever held in the Waldorf-Astoria, which means perhaps the biggest in New York city. Several years ago the Republican Club entertained Col. Roosevelt at the Waldorf and upward of 1,200 men crammed themselves in to eat and drink and cheer. Last night’s broke all the records. There were exactly 1,448 at the tables and more than 100 who came late were not able to sit down at all. Every square foot of space in the grand ballroom except the narrow lanes for the waiters was occupied. The dinner overflowed into the Astor gallery, where elbow room was desired and denied. There were tables in the hallways and tables set in the two levels of boxes—something that doesn’t happen in a generation.

The stage was set with attention to detail shown by professionals. Besides the big drop curtain behind the head table, which depicted the old Brick Row as it was in Taft’s time, they had strung a section of rail fence in front of the table, a replica of the fence on which Mr. Taft used to whittle his initials. The elms of the picture sent their tops as far outward on the canvas as possible, and then the illusion was carried out cunningly by the greenery that underhung the ceiling. The ballroom floor was the campus of Yale, and the illusion was produced pretty successfully.

All through the smilax and vines of the ceiling were thousands and thousands of pink roses, roses past all counting. There were clusters and pots of them on the table tops, hung from the balconies and draped around swinging incandescents, which glowed pink when the lights were lowered. All of these things were accomplished by Noble F. Hoggson of ’88, who got busy in the banquet room at 2 o’clock yesterday morning after a ball had danced itself out.

[Pg 178]

The following description of a newsboys’ Christmas “feast,” as reported in the New York Tribune, illustrates another type of work which the reporter is called upon to do:

A game dinner where the eaters were game,—that was the newsboys’ Christmas feast, provided last night in the Brace Memorial Newsboys’ Lodging House, No. 14 New Chambers street, by William M. Fliess, Jr. The happiness of poverty without responsibility, of boyhood unchecked, of sporting blood untamed, of divine independence, shone from the eyes of those noisy “newsies,” thrilled in their laughter, barked in their shouts. And envy, not pity, stirred the hearts of the men and women who had left comfortable homes, in immaculate attire, to watch the children of the street absorb their little mountains of food.

No separate courses, no cocktails and caviar, no after-dinner speeches were needed to make that dinner palatable, to separate mind from stomach, to create buoyancy of spirits. A big bowl of thick, steaming soup; a plate heaped with turkey, potatoes and mashed turnips; a cupful of smoking coffee and a whole pie, as round as the smiling face of the sun, greeted each separate appetite simultaneously, and caused no gorge to rise. Not a bit of space was wasted on those long, white tables, flanked by their narrow, red benches. Big bunches of celery took the place of inedible decorations, and appealed infinitely more to the artistic souls of the grimy little guests than would flowers or ferns.

All ages from five to twenty were represented, and big boy and infant sat side by side in perfect comradeship, since age counts for little in the[Pg 179] freemasonry of the street. Some pinched, white little faces there were, but not many, to set off by comparison the wind reddened cheeks of most of the throng. None had an overcoat; some were even without jackets, but they all looked warm. One young man of six marched in with a drum, which matched his countenance for expansive roundness and noisy Christmas cheer. He sat down with it strapped to his side, which crowded his neighbor somewhat, but there was no complaint, for not even a “newsy” could entertain the thought of separating him for a moment from such a present.

The feast started at 7 o’clock, but at 8 o’clock there were many places still empty and waiting, for the late “extras” with news of the Johnson-Burns prizefight detained many of the older boys who had important stands. And for the same reason there was little of the organized cheering of former years for the benefactor and for Superintendent Heig, since “Chicago Tom,” “Wise Joe” and other leaders were still selling “papes” at the bridge entrance. But it was a “handout till midnight,” and time enough to “stick on de job” and “get in on de feed,” too.

It was hard, though, on the shivering, shuffling line of beggared outcasts which hugged the Brace Memorial building on three sides, waiting until all the “newsies” had got “theirs.” Here was no Christmas buoyancy, only hopeless patience in wasted faces, in huddled forms, in gnawing hunger which sprang not from red blood. That dim, silent fringe which pressed tight up against the brick walls, as if seeking warmth and sustenance from the contact, expressed the antithesis of the scene within. Emphasis of this was not wanting as groups of boisterous “newsies,” clattering down the stairs[Pg 180] and bursting out of the door, haled different members of the company.

“Hungry, Bill?”

“Wait till next Christmas.”

And the replies, accompanied by wan smiles:

“Say, kid, what dey handin’ out?”

“Are ye leavin’ enough fer us?”

These men were to get what the “newsies” left, and yet not all either, for following them would come the women, the tattered hags of the night. And so the feast, begun in brightness, would end with the saddest chapter of civilization.

The women did not line up. They shrank from the stares of passersby, and waited until the last before crawling forth from their lairs.

Two thousand newsboys and homeless men and women were fed through the generosity of Mr. Fliess, who provides such a feast every Christmas. His father began giving these annual dinners forty-five years ago, and his son is continuing them in his memory. Seven hundred pounds of turkey, three hundred of ham, four barrels of potatoes and four of turnips, fifteen hundred pies and countless gallons of coffee, tea, and soup were the principal items of his provision last night. Two hundred applicants were seated at a time. There was no disorder.

One man, arriving late, when the last dishes were being cleared away, was referred to Mr. Heig.

“Misteer,” he said, “I came from Peekskill, walking all the way, and I am most famished. Can I have something to eat?”

“There is a cup of tea or coffee left, anyway, and a piece of bread. Give it to him,” Mr. Heig said, turning to his assistants.

Presently a plate of steaming turkey and vegetables was placed in front of the man. Mr. Heig said one of the girls helping in the kitchen,[Pg 181] who hadn’t eaten anything since morning, had insisted that her share go to the traveller.

Mr. Heig said the closing of many manufacturing plants in the last year had set thousands of boys adrift. The Newsboys’ Lodging House had become a haven, he said, for all the homeless and friendless lads in the city, and in the last year had sheltered 3,844 different boys.

Christmas and other holidays give occasion for accounts of various forms of celebration, of which the following story from the New York Evening Post is a good example:

Just when the afternoon shadows were beginning to lengthen in Trinity churchyard, the snow-hedged paths were filled with children hurrying to the service known as the “Visit to the Manger.” By scores they surged along, bearing banners, until the church doors swallowed them up. It was the day of one of Trinity’s most hallowed customs. Nobody knows exactly when it was instituted, although tradition says that it began during the late Dr. Dix’s incumbency. With the passing years the “Visit to the Manger” has become the recognized prelude to the Sunday School feast and Christmas tree, on the day before Christmas.

In the church long streamers of greens twined the pillars, and here and there gleamed holly; above the rows of heads the banners with their inscriptions trembled. Shrill young voices joined in the carols. Notes of the processional rang clearly.

Once in royal David’s city

Stood a lowly cattle shed,

Where a mother laid her Baby

In a manger for His bed;

Mary was that mother mild,

Jesus Christ her little Child.[Pg 182]

Afterward they sang “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” and when the address had been delivered by the presiding clergyman, the children chanted that other wonderful old carol, “The Snow Lay on the Ground.”

The snow lay on the ground,

The stars shone bright,

When Christ our Lord was born

On Christmas night!

When Christ our Lord was born

On Christmas night!

Then came the “Visit to the Manger.” Long ranks of children were formed in the aisles, and, led by two trumpeters from the Metropolitan Opera House blowing “Waken, Christian Children,” they marched in solemn procession to the vestibule under the spire, right in the main entrance, where the manger was situated.

On a platform, raised so that everybody could see it, was a representation of the Night at Bethlehem. All the characters in that first drama of Christianity were there; the sheep and cattle stood munching straw—or so it seemed. Lighted candles glowed on them, and overhead boomed the great organ, while the children’s voices sang as they looked and marched on:

Waken, Christian children.
Up! and let us sing
With glad voice the praises
Of our new-born King.
Up! ’Tis meet to welcome,
With a joyful lay.
Christ, the King of Glory,
Born for us to-day!

When all of them—and there must have been three or four hundred—had made the “Visit to the Manger,” and were back in their seats once more, so many orderly rows of Sunday school children, instead of little pilgrims wandering a road far older than that which leads to Canterbury, the service was resumed, and soon came the recessional “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”[Pg 183]

The service over, the congregation, a very much excited array, was marshalled to the parish house in the rear of the church where the great Christmas tree and a gorgeous feast were awaiting them. There were moving pictures, too, that showed the journey of the Wise Men from the East and the Star that guided them.

Writing Obituaries. News stories of deaths, with the biographical sketch, or obituary, which usually accompanies such announcements in the case of men of more or less prominence, constitute another type that differs somewhat from general news stories. The essential facts for the lead are the name of the person, his position, his address, the cause of his death and the duration of his illness, the names of the members of his family that survive him, and any important circumstances connected with his death. The significance of his career, or an estimate of his life work, may often serve to connect the lead with the biography that follows. Every well organized newspaper office files biographies of well-known men of the city, state, or nation, when these are published in newspapers or magazines, or are furnished by news bureaus, so that they may be ready for instant use when an obituary is to be written. To this “morgue,” or “graveyard,” as it is called, the reporter or editor goes to get whatever material is on hand concerning the person whose obituary he is to write. “Who’s Who,” biographical dictionaries, city, county, and state histories, and other similar books of reference, furnish valuable data for biographies.

How a biographical sketch of a well-known man may be written up in the newspaper office when the news of his death is received, is shown in the following[Pg 184] story of Dr. Koch and his work, which appeared in the Boston Transcript:

Baden Baden, May 28.—Professor Robert Koch, the famous bacteriologist, died here yesterday afternoon from a disease of the heart. He was born at Klausthal, Hanover, Dec. 11, 1843.

The name of Dr. Robert Koch is one of the most illustrious in that comparatively small group of the world’s great medical specialists. He was one of the very few men who have demonstrated entirely new principles and developed them to practical results.

Dr. Koch’s investigation of anthrax, to which Pasteur had devoted a great deal of attention, first brought him into general recognition as an authority. A visitation of cholera at Hamburg afforded him scope for experiments in that direction, and to Koch undoubtedly belongs the distinction of specifying and demonstrating the cholera bacillus. He was placed at the head of the cholera commission, and subsequently visited Egypt and India, when those countries were scourged by a cholera epidemic, his services being recognized by various decorations of honor and by a substantial honorarium of 100,000 marks ($20,000).

In the course of his cholera investigations he exemplified the fact that the bacillus, or active organism of the disease, seldom enters deeper than the living membrane of the intestines. His discoveries in demonstrating separately and specifying the bacillus or micro-organism of disease, have also contributed most valuable knowledge of the cause of typhoid fever and erysipelas.

In the popular mind he was perhaps best known as the discoverer of a supposed cure for consumption, a remedy which failed to fulfil the[Pg 185] hopes of an over-expectant public. Yet the tremendous strides made in recent years toward the stamping out of that supposedly incurable disease are due, more than to any other one man, to the great German experimenter. Medical men today freely attribute the striking decrease in the death rate from tuberculosis to Koch’s discovery in 1882 that the disease is infectious. To this achievement he added important studies of malaria, cholera, bubonic plague, rinderpest, cattle plague, splenic fever and wound poison.

Dr. Koch received a medical education at Göttingen. After his graduation, in 1866, he became assistant surgeon in the Hamburg General Hospital. Later he took up private practice at Langenhagen, Hanover; at Rakwitz, Posen; and at Wollstein, Posen. By 1872 he had already a standing in his profession which won him an appointment to the Imperial Board of Health. Ten years later he succeeded in isolating the tubercle bacillus, and his standing as an expert was secure.

Honors followed fast. He was made privy councillor in 1883, and became director of the Cholera Commission to India and Egypt. In 1884 he discovered the cholera spirillum, regarded as the positive test of Asiatic cholera, and for this signal service he received by legislative act a gift of $20,000. The following year he became a professor in the University of Berlin, director of the newly established Hygienic Institute of Berlin, and also director of the Prussian Board of Health.

But so far the winner of scientific honors had escaped the popular notice. It was in November, 1890, that word was suddenly flashed around the world that a German scientist had discovered an infallible remedy for tuberculosis. “Koch’s consumption[Pg 186] cure” became a talismanic phrase of hope to millions. Consumptives rushed to Berlin from every corner of the earth. Men in the last stages of the disease died in railway carriages on their way to the great physician. No one regretted this tragic manifestation more than Dr. Koch. He had known that his experiments were incomplete and that he was not yet ready to put his tuberculin to practical use. He sought to keep it from the public, but sensationalists garbled his modest report, and the mischief was wrought.

Nevertheless, the student continued his work undaunted. The Robert Koch Institute for the investigation of tuberculosis was founded in Berlin. Andrew Carnegie contributed $125,000 to its work. From it has proceeded the most valuable backing of the world-wide war on the white plague.

Dr. Koch’s latest work was the investigation in South Africa of sleeping sickness, in recognition of which Emperor William conferred on him the title of Excellency. From August, 1906, to October, 1907, the doctor and his assistants carried on these investigations on the Sesse Islands, in the Victoria Nyanza. The work was not without its dangers, as the disease manifested itself there in its most virulent form. Natives were dying on all sides. He discovered the origin of the disease in the tsetse fly. To destroy this fly and thus end the scourge he recommended the annihilation of the crocodile, on whose blood the fly feeds.

On one point Dr. Koch differed radically from most other authorities on tuberculosis. He maintained that tuberculosis in cattle was not transferable to man. This position he held to most vigorously at the Tuberculosis Congress in London, in 1901. In 1908, however, when he came to this country to attend the congress at Washington,[Pg 187] he was fated to hear his conclusions voted down by a resolution of the body. He made no reply, and many believe his opinions had been modified. This journey to the United States in 1908 was his first trip to this country and America’s savants strove to pay him the honors due. He was the distinguished guest at a New York dinner. It was there that Andrew Carnegie called him one of the “heroes of civilization.”

Dr. Koch received the Harden medal in recognition of his eminent services to medical science and public health, the Nobel Medicine Prize, amounting to $40,000, for his researches looking to the prevention and cure of tuberculosis, and many minor honors.

The following obituary of a writer, though meagre in biographical detail, is well adapted to convey an impression of her personality and of the quality of her work. It appeared in the New York Sun.

Myra Kelly (Mrs. Allan Macnaughton), affectionately known to many thousands of readers as the writer of stories of Ghetto children, died yesterday in Torquay, England.

Ten years or so ago a newspaper man was dining one evening with Dr. James T. Kelly, who asked for advice concerning his daughter’s troubles with magazine editors. This seemed like the preface to a familiar story—the young woman had literary ability which the editors persistently refused to recognize. What was to be done?

But the story was not along that familiar line.

“My daughter, Myra,” said Dr. Kelly when his companion asked how he could help, “is teaching in a downtown East Side school. All of us at[Pg 188] home have been entertained by her stories of her pupils and I urged her to write some of them. She was timid about it because of the tales of often rejected manuscripts by unknown writers and did not say that she would make the trial.

“Unknown to me she did, though, and, determined to get over the agony of unanimous rejection as soon as possible, she made three copies of her story and posted one each to three magazine editors.

“This morning she came to me in distress with three letters from three editors, three checks, and three requests for more stories.”

Dr. Kelly’s companion agreed to act as diplomatic agent; he saw the three editors, settled the matter of first choice by lot, and gave the bewildered young school teacher’s promise of other stories in turn to the other two editors.

That was the unusual manner of entrance into the field of story writing of Myra Kelly, then a teacher in the primary grade of Public School 147.

The opinions of the magazine editors were speedily justified. Readers demanded more stories about “Isidore Belchatosky,” there were enthusiastic encores for further comment by “Morris Mogilewsky,” subscribers would not be denied more of the wisdom of “Becky Zalmonowsky,” and “Patrick Brennan,” whose father had resisted the tide which had swept most of his race away from Poverty Hollow, had friends by the thousands among magazine readers.

For the first story Myra Kelly was glad to accept $50; within a year she got $500 for every story she wrote.

And all she had done, she often said, was simply to write down the stories she told at home of the queer deeds and views of the Ghetto children to whom she was teaching a, b,[Pg 189] c,—and deportment. But these stories were so very unlike any others from out of that world “east of the Bowery,” reproduced so quaintly the dialects, so accurately the points of view, gave such a new, deep insight into that seething world where there were hundreds of thousands of citizens in the making, that their author quickly became famous and prosperous.

But Miss Kelly kept on with her work in that East Broadway school, and remained where she had elected to teach, in the lower grade. She might have had higher grade classes, for she had been specially prepared for her profession by post-graduate studies. But the little folk from the tenements seemed to her to deserve the best instruction that could be given to them not only in a, b, c, but in how to look upon life, domestic and civil. Also she kept on writing stories until they grew into books, “Little Citizens,” “Isle of Dreams,” and “Wards of Liberty,” and these books, selling by many large editions, had a big influence in shaping the work of many societies and organizations trying to help make good citizens out of the children of the Ghetto.

“Miss Bailey” was the name of the “Teacher” in those stories, and what teacher had to overcome in respect to her pupils’ views on some familiar aspects of American history is shown in this scene from one of her stories:

“Ain’t George Washington made shoots mit pistols?” demands Isidore.

“Yes, he did,” admitted Miss Bailey.

“Ain’t Teddy Rosenfelt hit mans? Und ain’t they made him President over it? On’y that ain’t how they makes mit mine uncle. They don’t make him Presidents nor papas, neither. They takes and puts something from iron on his hands so he couldn’t to talk, even. Then they puts him in a wagon und they says they sends him over the water.”

“Where?” asked the teacher.

“Over the river where islands is and prisons stands. That’s how they makes mit him, the while he hits somebody mit pistols. I guess they don’t know about[Pg 190] George and Teddy. They makes them—mine uncle tells you how they makes George and Teddy—Presidents over it.”

“But that was from long, Izzie,” Eva reminded him.

“And altogether different,” added Miss Bailey.

“An’ me pop wasn’t there; he’d a pinched ’em,” said Patrick.

“Und George had his gang along,” observed Nathan Spiderwitz.

“Und Izzie,” said Morris Mogilewsky, summing the matter up, “George Wash’ton, he ain’t hit mans in legs mit shootin’ pistols out killin’ ’em. You couldn’t to be Presidents or papas over that. George Wash’ton he kills ’em all bloody und dead. He kills bunches of tousens of mans. Why ain’t your uncle kill somebody?”

“He hits him in the leg,” reiterated Isidore sadly.

“But he ain’t killed ’em. Und, Izzie, sooner you ain’t killed somebody bloody und dead, you couldn’t to be President and papas of countries.”

In 1905 Miss Kelly married Allan MacNaughton. Her husband met financial reverses, her own health failed, and she was unable to do much more literary work.

Mrs. MacNaughton, who was born in Dublin, Ireland, about thirty years ago, came to this city with her father, Dr. James E. Kelly, when she was a young child and received her education in this city.


  1. Familiarize yourself with the form of all kinds of news stories.
  2. Remember that neither slang nor cheap humor is essential to a good sporting news story.
  3. Be fair in your characterization of the playing of each team.
  4. Avoid elaborate descriptions in the average society news story.
  5. Don’t use hackneyed phrases in reporting society news.
  6. Be accurate in the biographical data of obituaries.

[Pg 191]


1. Criticize the following football story and rewrite it:

Mid the strains of “O You Beautiful Doll” with variations of “We Won’t Get Home Until Morning” played in the gloaming, wherever that is, of a windy autumn eve, Referee Williams judiciously called a halt on the annual St. Clair-Winton battle at the Baseball park last night, just when the top edge of the moon peeped over Lake Erie and the cardinal cohorts were leading in the battle by a score of 25 to 7.

That’s the official count, three touchdowns, one goal from touchdown and two drop kicks against the green and white’s one lone touchdown, scored in the final quarter of a hectic struggle featured by good open play on the part of both elevens, Harry Hurson’s great kicking and marred by the poor tackling of both elevens.

It was just another St. Clair victory and thus it will go down in history. The old hoodoo still abides with the St. Clair boys south of the river, and Winton was not so much outplayed as outlucked. The cardinals keyed to the minute for the struggle were on their toes from the opening whistle. They played football at all times, took advantage of every weakness and never lagged no matter how great the advantage and as a result they copped the city laurels which are theirs by virtue of the victory, in a decidedly easy manner.

Winton on the other hand, outside of one or two individuals on the whole were content to take matters as they came and appeared averse to any exceptional effort, combined or otherwise. There was not that scrap and pep, that characterizes the annual fight between the two teams, and this more than any superior ability on the part of Schmidt’s champions, militated against anything like a victory for the Wintoners.

The first quarter was a feeler for both elevens. In an offensive way, the green and white did little, playing purely on the defensive, being content to punt on every first or second down, keeping the ball in cardinal territory. This worked well in the first quarter and the Winton men were never in danger of being counted on. The same holds true of St. Clair.

The second period brought a change of goals and although at the very start the ball was in St. Clair territory, the advantage of the wind now lay with the cardinals and Hurson’s sturdy boot soon made that fact known to the defenders of the east goal.

While Johnson in a measure held his own at this period with the St. Clair oval mixer, he was decidedly slow in getting off his spirals. A few minutes after the start of the quarter, St. Clair, with the advantage of the wind, worked well into their rival’s preserves and by sturdy plunges carried the pigskin to the thirty yard line. Winton held finally and after three futile flings at the[Pg 192] cardinal line by the green and white backs, Johnson again stepped back to boot the leather into safe ground. He made a miscue, however, in holding onto the ball too long, an accident which featured his play in the North side game. Devine opposing Franklin at tackle, wormed his way through the Winton defense and was on Johnson before the latter was aware of his presence. He blocked the attempted punt and followed up the ball which rolled well behind Winton’s goal, made one futile attempt to corral the oval as it rolled over the grass carpet, hopped to his feet again and this time drove true gathering the ball in his arms for the first score. A punt out by Hurson was properly heeled and the same Hurson booted the ball squarely between the goal posts, making the count 7 to 0. [Etc.]

2. Compare the following two reports of weddings and rewrite the first:


The beautiful autumn evening Tuesday, was the scene of a happy wedding at the pleasant country home of Mr. and Mrs. William A. Milton of Pembroke Park, when their only daughter, Ada May Milton, was united in marriage to Henry P. Williams, of Harrington, N. Y. Promptly at 4:30 p. m., the wedding party descended the stairway to the sweet melody of the wedding march, with Miss Kathrine Parker presiding at the piano. The procession was led by the small flower maiden, Miss Mabel Teller, dressed in pure white with a wreath of white daisies on her head and a large bunch of the same flowers in her hand. The bride was richly but simply clad in white satin trimmed in gold jetted passementerie and gold jetted neck yoke, with a filmy bridal veil daintily covering her golden brown hair and falling gracefully to the floor.

She carried fragrant white roses and pink carnations, and she was met in the hallway by the groom. The groom wore the conventional attire. He was accompanied by his friend Frank J. Norton, of Watertown, N. Y. The bride was accompanied by her cousin, Miss Henrietta Strong, now a student of Harrington normal. Miss Strong was dressed in pure white with a bouquet of pink roses and carnations. Together the bride and groom entered the flower festooned parlor to the soft strains of music. Rev. Herrin, of Pembroke Park, united the popular young couple according to the solemn ritual of the Methodist Episcopal church.

After a shower of congratulations the wedding party entered the dining room where a sumptuous feast of good things was served to about seventy guests amidst the usual social conversation whilst the Pembroke Park Brass Band played its choicest selections. Later there was music by Mrs. Henry Delton and her son, Master Harry Delton, on the piano and violin, the latter being a pupil of the bride, who is a music teacher in her town. Her education[Pg 193] is as follows: Harrington, N.Y., for normal course; Baltimore, Md., for business, besides Wesleyan College, Middleton, Pa., and Marietta, O., for musical education. The groom was for some time a telegraph operator at Buffalo, N. Y. but at present, being the last unmarried of the family, he has lived with his mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Williams. He belongs to one of Polk county’s well known families, and is a member of the Harrington Brass Band.

The bride belongs to one of the oldest and best families of her home county of Madison. Both are popularly and well known in the home circles of many friends.

Among pleasantly noted friends present were Cashier W. M. Schmidt of the Harrington bank, Miss Emma Miles of Harrington normal, James B. Rogers, merchant, of Littletown, and brother-in-law of the groom, accompanied by his small son, Robert, and Misses Jessie and Nettie Williams, cousins of the groom.

The wedding presents were numerous and of excellent selection, several arriving days before from invited guests unable to be present.


The wedding of Miss Gladys Virginia Du Frain, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. Cutter Du Frain, to William Battlesea, adopted son and heir of the late William Battlesea, was celebrated at noon yesterday at the Hotel Royal, the Rev. George S. St. Clair, rector of St. John’s Protestant Episcopal Church of this city, officiating.

Only relatives and a few intimate friends were present for the ceremony, which was performed in the Renaissance room. There was a temporary altar erected beneath a bower of palms and white chrysanthemums, and standards draped with white satin ribbon and topped with clusters of pink and white chrysanthemums formed an aisle through which the bridal party passed. An orchestra played during the service.

The bride walked to the altar with her father, who gave her away. She wore a gown of white satin trimmed with duchess lace, and a veil of old point lace which fell over a court train. She carried a bouquet of lilies of the valley and white orchids, and among her ornaments was a pearl necklace, the gift of the bridegroom.

Miss Charlotte Hinchkin, a cousin of the bridegroom, was the flower girl. Her costume was of white lace over pink satin. She wore a hat to match trimmed with pink tulle and she carried a basket of pink roses. Arthur Du Frain, brother of the bride, acted as page, and William J. Hinchkin, a cousin of the bridegroom, was the best man. There were no ushers.

After the ceremony there was a reception, followed by a wedding breakfast in the ballroom. The bridal party sat at a heart shaped table in the centre of a group of five tables. Mr. Battlesea and his bride left afterward for a short trip. They will live at 144 West Sixty-ninth street.

[Pg 194]



News Possibilities. The possibilities contained in a piece of news are seldom completely exhausted by the first story published concerning it. Causes, results, and significant phases many times cannot be ascertained when the first story is written. New facts sometimes develop from hour to hour, and very frequently from day to day. It is the constant aim in newspaper making to give in each edition the latest possible phase of every important event. Accordingly, news stories must be rewritten or must be given new leads as often as the character of the latest news warrants it. A story is worth rewriting or following up as long as it is likely to be of interest to any considerable number of readers.

Even when it is evident that the first story contains all the significant facts and that additional details cannot be obtained, the first story may, nevertheless, have sufficient interest to deserve a rewriting by papers which have not as yet had an opportunity to publish the news that it contains. A new feature is sought for in the first story, and this feature, when played up in the rewritten story, gives it a new turn. New significance, likewise, may be given to the event in the rewritten story by looking at it from a different point of view or by showing its relation to other events. Probable causes, possible results, or striking coincidences may be “played up” as new features. Often the next development can be anticipated to bring the rewrite up to the time of going to press. Imagination[Pg 195] is necessary for success as a rewrite man, not in order to invent fictitious details, but to see the event in all its relations and to select the most significant of these for emphasis in rewriting.

Whether or not a story is worth “following up,” and how long it shall be “followed up,” as well as whether or not a story is worth rewriting, is determined by the newspaper man’s appreciation of news values. Editors must be keen and accurate judges of popular interest in current events to know when to continue to give space and prominence to developments of a piece of news and when to drop it.

The division of the twenty-four-hour day between morning and evening papers results in editors and reporters on papers of one of these groups depending, to some extent, on those in the other for part of the day’s round of news gathering. Consequently when the men on the evening papers begin work early in the morning, they read with great care all the morning papers, in order to find out what news has developed since the last edition of their papers went to press on the preceding day. The men on morning newspapers, likewise, scan every edition of the evening papers in order to watch the course of events during the day. This careful examination of newspapers is not confined to those of the city; papers published in other cities of the state or of adjacent states are gone over for any pieces of news that have local phases, or “local ends.” The reading of all these newspapers furnishes the editors with many stories that must be rewritten and brought up to the moment.

Rewriting. When news is to be rewritten without additional details, the stories clipped from other papers are turned over to rewrite men or to reporters to be put at once in a new form for publication. If the editor[Pg 196] desires more facts or later phases, he gives the clipping to a reporter, who, taking the first story as a basis, proceeds to get the desired additions before writing the new story. In either case the first thing to do is to study carefully the first story to see what it contains and what are its possibilities. Every bearing of the piece of news on past, present, and future events must be carefully considered. The importance of every possible relation should be weighed so that the most timely and most interesting feature may be given due prominence.

Because of the rapid judgments on news values and the hurried writing of news stories that newspaper making necessitates, the first story may not bring out at all or may not give prominence to what is in reality the most interesting aspect of the story, and it remains for the man who is rewriting the story to take advantage of this neglected opportunity. In his effort to tell all the details of the event itself, the reporter who wrote the first story may not have considered ulterior causes and motives or he may not have had time to see the event in its relation to other events. With the perspective that a few hours often gives, the rewrite man can judge more accurately of these elements and in the rewritten story can give them the emphasis that they deserve.

In the rewriting of stories where no more facts are available, the possibilities to be considered for the new lead are: (1) some feature entirely overlooked by the writer of the first story, (2) some element not given prominence in the first story, that may be made the feature, (3) the next probable consequence or development, (4) some cause or motive not suggested or emphasized in the first story, and (5) the relation of the piece of news to some previous or coincident one.

[Pg 197]

The rewriting with no new facts but with a new feature played up in the lead is illustrated in the following stories:


Lead in Evening Paper.

After a week’s search of all the cities of the state, the police found Mary Sheldon, the twelve-year-old daughter of Roswell Sheldon, millionaire paper manufacturer of Wilton, at the Park Hotel today where she has been living for several days. She had informed the clerk at the hotel on her arrival Wednesday that she was waiting for her mother who would arrive in a few days. When asked by the police why she had left home, she replied that she liked to travel.


Lead of Rewritten Story in Morning
Paper of Following Day.

“I like to travel,” was the only explanation offered by Mary Sheldon, the twelve-year-old daughter of Roswell Sheldon, millionaire owner of large paper mills at Wilton, for running away from home a week ago, and coming to this city last Wednesday. She was found by the police at the Park Hotel where she told the clerk when she arrived that she expected her mother to join her in a day or two.


Lead of First Story in Evening Paper.

A giant hippopotamus, a cook, and the ship’s crew, as principals, enacted for 2,000 passengers aboard the steamship “President Lincoln” which arrived here today from Hamburg, a “near sea tragedy” last Tuesday when three days out from Southampton.

Otto Winkle, the fourth cook, was[Pg 198] sitting on the rail forward, dozing in the sunshine. Just then from the nearby cage of the hippo, consigned to the zoo at Cincinnati and the largest ever brought to America, came a tremendous sneeze. The shock of the hippo’s sneeze was too much for the somnolent cook who unceremoniously toppled overboard and in a moment was struggling in the wake of the ship. A cry from some of the passengers who saw the mishap resulted in a boat’s being lowered, and the cook’s being rescued.


Lead of Rewrite Story in Morning
Paper on the Following Day.

To be blown overboard in mid-ocean by a hippopotamus’ sneeze was the fate of Otto Winkle, fourth cook on the President Lincoln, which arrived from Hamburg yesterday with 2,000 witnesses of the narrow escape of the assistant chef. Prompt action in lowering a boat saved the cook from drowning. The big hippo, said to be the largest in captivity in America, went on his way to the Cincinnati zoological gardens today without being aware of the excitement that his sneeze had caused.

Anticipating News in Rewriting. One of the simplest ways of bringing a story up to the time of the edition in which it is to appear in rewritten form, is to anticipate the probable result or the next development. In the morning editions of evening papers, particularly, much of the day’s news can be forecast and the news stories written accordingly. Persons arrested during the evening and night, for example, it is safe to say in advance, will have their cases considered in the police court the next morning. Accordingly, the fact[Pg 199] that a person will be charged in court with his offense “this morning” rather than the fact that he was arrested “last night,” constitutes the feature of the first morning edition of the afternoon paper. Stories of trials, conventions, investigations, legislative sessions, and other events extending over a number of days or weeks can often be given a new turn before anything new actually has been done by setting forth in the lead what is to be done. The early morning resumption of a search abandoned because of darkness the night before can be played up in the rewritten story of a drowning, disappearance, or similar occurrence. A midnight railroad wreck reported in a morning paper, it is safe to say in the morning editions of the afternoon papers, will be investigated by the railroad company and by inspectors of the state railroad commission in order to fix the responsibility. Conjectures as to his successor may be made a feature of a rewrite story following the announcement of the resignation of a public official. To look forward to what will happen is practically to give the news before it actually happens, and this can frequently be done.

How without any additional facts the next development of a piece of news may be anticipated and the time changed from “last night” to “this morning” is shown by the rewritten leads following:


Lead of First Story in Morning Paper.

Fire gutted the warehouse of the L. C. Whitney Seed Company, 113 Canal Street, shortly before midnight, causing a loss of $75,000. Robert S. Wilber, a night watchman employed by the firm, was reported missing and is believed to have lost his life in the fire.

[Pg 200]


Lead of Rewritten Story in First
Morning Edition of Evening Paper.

Firemen this morning are searching the ruins of the L. C. Whitney Seed Company, 113 Canal Street, for the body of Nightwatchman Robert S. Wilber, 1913 3rd Street, who is believed to have lost his life when the warehouse was destroyed by fire last night. The loss was $75,000.


Lead of First Story in Morning Paper.

As a result of an altercation with a taxi-cab driver, Harold S. Parkins, broker, 17 Hoosac Building, was arrested last night in front of the City Club of which he is a member, charged by William Works, the driver, with assaulting him when he attempted to get the amount of his fare.


Lead of Rewritten Story in First
Morning Edition of Evening Paper.

Harold S. Parkins, a broker with offices in the Hoosac Building, will answer in the police court this morning to the charge of assault and battery preferred by William Works, a taxi driver, with whom he got into a dispute last night over the amount of the fare, in front of the City Club, of which Parkins is a member.

Finding the Relation of Events. What seemed a single and isolated event when the first story was written may be seen to be part of a series of similar or related events by the time the story is to be rewritten, and this fact can be used as a new, interesting, and important phase of the rewritten story. Several[Pg 201] burglaries, as reported in the morning papers, may be found to have some peculiar details in common, and this fact may give rise to the conjecture, as the feature of the rewritten story, that they were the work of the same burglars. A local storm story when rewritten may have as a feature the extent of the storm as shown by telegraph stories received after the first story was written. A fire, the origin of which was unknown when the first story was written, may be connected with other recent fires that broke out under similar conditions, and the probability of all of them being the work of a “firebug” may be pointed out in the rewritten story. By seeking relations between events, the newspaper worker often finds important features for stories to be rewritten.

“Follow-up” Stories. In “follow-up” stories the gathering of new details is the first step necessary to rewriting. Not infrequently the latest details can be obtained by telephone, and the “follow-up” story can be written in the office in as short a time as a rewrite story that requires no additional facts. The condition of a victim of an accident, for example, may be ascertained by telephoning to his home or to the hospital where he was taken, and the facts thus obtained may be put at the very beginning of the “follow-up” story. More often the reporter must go out to get the latest developments of the event, just as he would for a first story. However obtained, the new particulars are the important ones to be emphasized in the lead.

Some of the different directions in which a story may be “followed up” are similar to those suggested for rewrite stories; they are: (1) causes and motives other than those given in the first story if these are uncertain or inadequate, (2) results and consequences[Pg 202] of the first piece of news, (3) interviews with prominent persons in regard to the event and its significance, (4) clues to the identity of unknown persons or to the unknown whereabouts of those who figured in the first news story.

Popular interest in the causes of fires, accidents, and disasters generally, make such causes good “second day” features when the explanation given in the first story is insufficient or unsatisfactory. Motives for crimes or for any significant action are to be sought for by the reporter. The important question always to be asked in connection with practically every piece of news is, Why? Every result of an event has new possibilities and should be “followed up.” In stories of crime the identity of the culprit and his whereabouts, if not given in the first story, are, of course, of great news value for a “second day” story. Finally, the opinions of those concerned or in any way interested in the event, as obtained by interviews, make good material for stories following the first one.

In writing the lead of a “follow-up” story the reporter must not fail to give as many of the essential elements of the first story as are necessary to make the new details intelligible to those who did not read the first story, and to recall the main facts to the minds of those who did read it. This explanatory material is made subordinate to the latest particulars, but cannot well be omitted.

The way in which a story is “followed up” from hour to hour and from day to day by “featuring” the latest news and reporting in slightly varied form the same essential details, is made evident in the following leads of a railroad wreck, the developments of which had news value for two days.

[Pg 203]


Lead of Story in First Morning
Edition of Evening Paper.

Cincinnati, O., Nov. 13.—Two men are known to have been killed and a score or more injured when a Cincinnati, Lake Huron and Western passenger train bound from Cleveland crashed into a freight on a siding at Wilmington at 6:30 this morning.


Lead of Story in Noon Edition of
Same Paper.

Cincinnati, O., Nov. 13.—Fourteen persons were killed and twenty more were injured when a Cincinnati, Lake Huron and Western passenger train running between Cleveland and this city crashed head-on into a standing freight in an open switch at Wilmington, a suburb of Cincinnati, early today.


Lead of Story in Last Afternoon
Edition of Same Paper.

Cincinnati, O., Nov. 13.—Failure of the head brakeman to close the switch, according to his own confession late today, was the cause of the head-on collision between a passenger train and a freight train on the Cincinnati, Lake Huron and Western railroad at Wilmington, a suburb of Cincinnati, early this morning, in which fifteen lives were lost, and a score or more passengers seriously injured.


Lead of Story in Morning Paper
of the Following Day.

Cincinnati, O., Nov. 13.—Delay in installing a block system as ordered three months ago by the railroad commission of the state, in the opinion of the inspectors of that body resulted[Pg 204] in the disastrous wreck on the Cincinnati, Lake Huron, and Western railroad at Wilmington, a suburb of Cincinnati, early this morning, when fifteen persons lost their lives and fifteen others were seriously injured.

The wreck was caused by the failure of the head brakeman on the freight, Otto Hansen, to close the switch to the siding. [etc.]


Lead of Story in Evening Paper on
Second Day.

Cincinnati, O., Nov. 14.—Three separate investigations were begun today into the cause of the Wilmington wreck on the Cincinnati, Lake Huron and Western railroad, which killed fifteen and severely injured as many more, with a view to fixing the blame on those responsible and to punishing them. The Williams County grand jury under order of Judge Hanty began to investigate the wreck, while Coroner Hardy and District Attorney Collum worked on the matter independently.

Lack of important additions to facts in the first story often makes the lead of the “follow-up” story less striking in new features than those given above, but the very absence of new facts in itself has some news value, as is shown by the two following leads:


Lead of Story in Evening Paper.

When Mrs. Herman Hansen, Hampshire Apartments, widow of a former director of the so-called “bread trust,” unlocked her bedroom door early this morning in answer to a plea “the baby is dying,” she was faced by a masked burglar, who pointed a revolver at her. She had supposed that the voice was that of her son and that his child was very ill.[Pg 205]

The burglar searched all over the house for jewelry, but failed to find anything of value, as the diamonds owned by Mrs. Hansen were in a safety deposit vault. Her companion, Miss Ida Schnell, a trained nurse, was threatened with death by the burglar, who later made his escape.

It is believed that the burglar had gained admittance to the apartment early in the evening and had concealed himself until after the family had retired.


Lead of Story in Next Morning’s

The identity of the burglar who after concealing himself for hours in the home of Mrs. Herman Hansen, Hampshire Apartments, entered her room early yesterday morning and at the point of a revolver demanded money and jewels, remains a mystery, according to the police.

There is not a clew to the identity or whereabouts of the marauder and as he had covered his entire face and head with a black mask similar to that placed on a condemned man, neither Mrs. Hansen nor Miss Ida Schnell, her companion, could give an adequate description of his face. He had also turned his coat inside out, giving it the appearance of being ragged.

A report that one of the servants was suspected of being in league with the burglar and that she gave him entrance during the daytime, was denied by both Police Captain Sullivan and Henry Hansen, a son. Mr. Hansen visited police headquarters last night to inquire whether any clews had been found.

“Boiling Down” News to One Paragraph. For some stories the rewriting consists of “boiling down the news” to a sentence or two containing the essential[Pg 206] facts, in order that they may be used as “fillers” or may be grouped with similar short items under general headings, such as “Sparks From the Wires,” “Telegraph Ticks,” “City News In Brief,” “Told In Brief,” “State News.” Local news stories of this type are rewritten from other city papers, and state news is often rewritten from daily and weekly papers received in exchange and known as “state exchanges.” Some of the news associations furnish brief stories of this kind which may be grouped under one head or which may be used as “fillers.” A single cross-line head, or a side head, is often put on these short “items” by the man who rewrites them. Examples of rewritten stories of this kind follow:


First Story in Evening Paper.

Three boys, Joseph Dant, 19; Charles Herrig, 19; and Oscar Kellin, 19; were brought into district court this morning for tearing up small trees recently planted on Hartford Avenue. The boys attended a dance Saturday night and on their way home, according to the testimony of Patrolman Higgins, destroyed the trees.

“You are each fined $10 and costs,” said Judge Bellows. “You boys deserve even more severe punishment. There would be slight encouragement for people to beautify their homes, were boys like you allowed to go unpunished.”


Rewritten Story and Head in Next
Morning’s Paper.


After Patrolman Higgins had testified that he found them pulling up young trees on Hartford Avenue Saturday[Pg 207] night, Joseph Dant, Charles Herrig, and Oscar Kellin, each 19 years old, were fined $10 and costs in District Court on Monday.


First Story in Evening Paper.

Amelia Minkle, 19, 656 Second St., was run down and injured by an automobile driven by Mrs. H. M. Greene, 931 Hillside Ave., at 7 o’clock this morning at Eleventh and National Avenues. The girl was on her way to work. She alighted from a car and started to cross the street when the automobile turning the corner struck her and knocked her to the pavement. Mrs. Greene stopped her machine and called the police ambulance. The girl was removed to the Emergency Hospital. Although painful, her injuries are not serious.


Rewritten Story and Head in Next
Morning’s Paper.

GIRL HURT BY AUTO—While crossing Eleventh Avenue on her way to work Monday morning, Amelia Minkle, 19, 656 Second street, was knocked down and slightly injured by an automobile owned and driven by Mrs. H. M. Greene, 931 Hillside Avenue.


  1. Read all the local papers every day before beginning your work.
  2. Remember that few first stories exhaust all the news possibilities.
  3. Follow up every story as long as indications point to new and interesting developments.
  4. Look for ulterior causes and motives as new phases.
  5. Look forward for new features to possible results and consequences.[Pg 208]
  6. Get interviews with persons of prominence and authority on all important events, as new features.
  7. Look at the event from a new angle before beginning your rewrite story.
  8. Play up the latest possible phase of the news in the lead.
  9. Find a new feature to play up in rewriting when you have no more facts.
  10. Anticipate the next development of the event in beginning the lead of your rewrite story.
  11. Bring the rewritten story “up to the minute” by giving prominence to features of “to-day.”


1. Rewrite the following story, putting the unusual feature at the beginning of the story.

Samuel J. Willsie, an insurance broker living at 1991 Riverside Drive, did not appear in the City Court yesterday for examination in the supplementary proceedings in a suit over a loan of $200, and Hein & Krug of 281 Broadway, the attorneys who obtained the order, concluded that Mr. Willsie didn’t feel that he had been properly served.

The lawyers had turned the order over to Samuel Greenman, a process server of 188 East Ninety-Eighth Street. After trying to serve the order without success he finally notified the lawyers that he had seen Mr. Willsie sitting at his window in the Riverside Drive house one night and that he had tied a copy of the order to a brick and thrown the brick into the window, hitting Mr. Willsie with it. The process server said that when Mr. Willsie picked up the paper and looked at it he, the process server, immediately read the original to Mr. Willsie at long distance and said “You’re served.”

Mr. Willsie said yesterday that no attempt, so far as he knew, had been made to serve the order on him, and that he could be found at his office every day. He said that while he and his family were at dinner one night something landed on the floor of the room by way of an open window. His son, he said, went in to see what it was and threw the stone back into the street. The boy told his father the object was a stone wrapped in a piece of paper. That was all Mr. Willsie knew of the alleged “service.”

[Pg 209]

2. In rewriting this story, summarize the essential facts in the opening sentence.

When a Third avenue elevated train reached the 166th street station late yesterday afternoon the guards announced that the next stop would be 177th street, the intervening stations being skipped.

At once there was a rush for the platform, which was already full of people, and by the time the train was ready to go on, men and women were jammed tight against the cars. The conductor was warned not to start the train, but he pulled the bell and the moving cars rolled the front row of those on the platform along with it. Six panes of glass were broken and fully a dozen persons cut or bruised.

Six men who had been injured went to the Morrisania police station and made a complaint. They were R. Nothstein, a clerk of 451 East 171st street; Frank Schwartz, a mechanic living at 415 East 176th street; John Hurley, an engineer of 5415 Third avenue; William Balk, a clerk of 3661 Third avenue, Charles Wold, of 1695 Franklin avenue; and Thomas O’Brien of 341 West 167th street.

The police set out to find the conductor who started the train, but as none of the complainants had taken his number, they were still hunting for him last night.

3. Improve the lead of the following story by playing up a better feature.

Interstate Commerce Commissioner Clark, in a statement issued today in connection with the numerous wrecks on railroads in the United States, said that conditions are deplorable.

“Most of the wrecks,” he said, “may be put in the class of avoidable accidents. Poor rails, speed craze, and human negligence are the causes.”

Mr. Clark declared that the commission is powerless to prescribe adequate regulations to prevent wrecks, and that, though its recommendations have been generally observed, they cannot be enforced. He intimated that Congress should give the commission more power to compel railroads to observe safety rules which are deemed necessary from the commission’s many investigations.

4. Give this story an entirely different lead without beginning with a summary.

Julius R. Wein literally sang himself into matrimony, and then sang himself into a jail cell. The dulcet tones of his tenor voice won him a bride and also caused his arrest on a charge of forgery.

[Pg 210]

A few months ago Wein, under the name of Jule LeGrande, was singing in theatres in Chicago. Among others who admired his singing was Miss Winnie Riley who characterized his singing as “divine.” So much was Miss Riley attracted to the voice that she consented to marry its owner. After the ceremony the two rented apartments at 1961 Western Avenue. As before, the husband continued to sing in local theatres.

After a few weeks the young wife decided that vaudeville did not offer sufficient opportunity and requested Wein to seek employment in the field of business. He sought for and obtained a position as cashier for the Universal Furniture Company at 1032 16th Street.

The salary of a young cashier was not so large as that he was accustomed to earn as a singer, so Wein is said to have forged checks amounting to more than $1,200, signing the name of the firm by which he was employed.

Detectives who sought his arrest determined to use the voice which had won Wein’s bride as a “bait” to cause his arrest.

The following advertisement was inserted in papers throughout the United States:

FOR SALE—A Moving Picture Theatre, cheap. Can be operated to great advantage by man or woman who is good singer and entertainer.

Three days ago an answer was received from Wintonville, Miss. The writer signed his name as W. R. Reinhard. The handwriting was recognized by experts as that of Wein, and the young man was yesterday arrested by operatives of the Pinkerton Detective Agency in the Mississippi city. Both Wein and his wife will be brought to Chicago tomorrow.

[Pg 211]



Kinds of Feature Stories. Most news stories, it has been seen, aim to be nothing more than concise presentations of the essential facts concerning current events. They are intended primarily to inform rather than to instruct or entertain. In a feature story, on the other hand, the writer takes the day’s events and tries to present entertaining or instructive phases of them that cannot well be developed in the limited compass of the news story itself.

For one type of feature story the reporter takes the facts of the news and finds behind them the real meaning of the event to those who play a part in it. The event thus becomes an episode in the drama of human life, sometimes comic, sometimes tragic. Such a story involves feelings as well as facts. To write it successfully the reporter must be able to see the picturesque, humorous, and pathetic phases of life about him; he must feel with those to whom the events mean much. Keen insight into human nature, and sympathy with its strength and its weakness, are essential. This type of story, which is often called the “human interest” story, enjoys no small degree of popularity because it appeals to the reader’s feelings. In some newspapers it takes a place of prominence beside the best news stories; in many of them it is given a less conspicuous position; only a few neglect it entirely.

Another kind of feature story, quite different in character, undertakes to explain, interpret, and describe[Pg 212] fully significant phases of the day’s news and timely topics generally. Brief news stories often arouse the reader’s curiosity to know more of the persons and things that they mention. It remains for the feature story to supply causes, motives, results,—the full significance of the bare facts of the news. Accordingly, some newspapers set aside two or three columns on the editorial pages each day for a feature story of this kind. In magazine sections of Saturday and Sunday issues such articles are supplied in greater numbers. These feature stories are frequently illustrated. They seldom fill less than a column; more often they are several columns in length.

“Human Interest” Stories. Material for the “human interest” type of feature story is to be found anywhere and everywhere in the reporter’s daily round of news gathering. The many police court cases furnish an abundance of humorous and pathetic incidents. Accidents and minor crimes of all kinds many times are worth only a few lines as news, but as the basis for feature stories, they contain great possibilities. An incident in a crowded street car, a mishap on the street, a bit of conversation between two newsboys, a mistake made by a person unaccustomed to the ways of the metropolis, or any one of the hundred little episodes in the daily life of a city may be taken by the reporter as the subject of his feature story. Little children, because of the great appeal that they make to men and women of all classes, often furnish good material. Animals, wild or tame, are always available as subjects. A visit to the “zoo” is sure to furnish at least one good story. For the alert reporter with a knowledge of human nature and an appreciation of the humor and the pathos of life, there is never any dearth of material.

Style in Feature Stories.—Feature stories require[Pg 213] some literary ability beyond that necessary for routine reporting. From the point of view of its composition the feature story is like a miniature short story. Therefore no definite rules can be laid down for its treatment. There need be no summary of essential facts at the beginning as in the typical news story. Like the short fiction story, the feature story may begin in any way that will attract the reader’s attention, and may be developed by conversation, by narration, or by description that suggests rather than portrays in great detail. A good feature story frequently tells itself; all that the writer does is to record the incidents without comment or adornment. A simple, restrained treatment is far preferable to elaboration of detail. Pathos can easily be made bathos, and humor can readily descend to cheap buffoonery.

The style of humorous and pathetic feature stories needs careful attention. Words must be chosen not only with reference to their general meaning but with consideration for the feelings which have come to be associated with them and which they therefore arouse in the reader. One word with the wrong connotation may spoil the whole effect of an otherwise well-written pathetic story. As in the structure of the feature story so in its style, no definite rules or principles can be laid down to guide the reporter. Careful reading of well-written short stories and novels will show him various methods of producing the effects that he desires.

The rescue of a small boy from drowning in a cistern would ordinarily pass unnoticed in the newspapers of a large city and might be worth a few lines in those of a small one. A reporter with a sense of humor might see something in the incident that would make good material for a humorous feature story, as did the reporter on the Chicago Tribune, who wrote it in the[Pg 214] following form. The editor gave the story a place on the front page.

“Billy” Dyer, 2 year old son of William Dyer, owner of the Dyer foundry in Chicago, was playing in the yard of his home at 1716 North Elmwood avenue, Hyde Park, yesterday with his little sister Mary. Suddenly “Billy,” who was standing on the wooden top of a cistern, disappeared.

There was nothing supernatural in his disappearance, because the wood in the cistern cover was rotten, but it struck little Mary as being so remarkable that she lost the power of speech. She is little more than a year old, and she couldn’t talk much, anyway.

Just at this moment a peddler came into the backyard. He saw Mary gazing fixedly at the open cistern and asked her what she saw.

“Bruvver’s down there,” vouchsafed Mary, regaining her tongue and pointing.

The peddler took a look into the cistern and then seized a near-by mop. “Billy’s” head was still bobbing above the surface of the water when the peddler got back with the mop, but when he looked into the cistern again the boy slipped off the cover of the cistern, which had gone down with him, and went under. The peddler waited until the boy’s head appeared again and then he deftly stuck the end of the mop under Billy’s chin and pinned his head against the masonry.

Meanwhile the peddler had not been silent. Mrs. Dyer heard his shouts, and, gathering their portent, rushed to the telephone and called the fire department. Axel Hansen also heard the sounds. Axel has long legs. He came running.[Pg 215]

When Axel looked into the cistern a scheme of rescue immediately formulated itself in his mind. He got down on his knees and told the terrified Mrs. Dyer and some neighbors to take a good hold on his ankles. The peddler was busy holding “Billy’s” head above the water with his mop.

Then Axel let himself head foremost down into the cistern. His legs were just long enough to reach. With outstretched arms he was able to get “Billy” by the scruff of the neck. Having got a good grip, he ordered “Hoist away.” Mrs. Dyer and the neighbors hoisted, and in a moment “Billy,” scared and much bedraggled, was safe in his mother’s arms. The fire department arrived about this time.

“O, look at the pretty firemen,” exclaimed Mary, and turned her entranced gaze away from the cistern to the new object of interest.

The capture of an unusually large turtle, in and of itself, has little news value, but out of the incident a New York Sun reporter by simple literary devices worked up a feature story that holds the reader’s interest and makes an entertaining little “yarn.”

They that go down to Gravesend Bay in fishing craft were talking about It all day yesterday in the back room of Hogan’s place. Here, where swings the lantern that once lighted emperors of China on their way to bed and to the rope of which there hangs a wondrous tale, and where the pistol that shot O’Donovan Rossa lies in its evil rust, the fishermen gathered and roared in each others’ ears about It. Between whiles they all went up to Lew Morris’s barn and gazed at It. It was the biggest that any of them had ever seen. Also It[Pg 216] was old. You could tell that by the barnacles that covered It. It was prodded over on Its ancient back by inquisitive toes and It slapped itself across Its chest like a cabby on a cold night.

Lew told how he caught It. He and Hogan went out in a rowboat about 9 o’clock yesterday morning to look over their weakfish nets. It was flopping around in Lew’s best net. Lew leaned over and got hold of a flipper. He found himself in all sorts of trouble right away and called for Hogan. The latter changed position too quickly and they both went in. Lew had hold of the flipper and never let go. If Al Girard and Nelse Williams hadn’t come along in a launch just then there is no telling what would have happened. Al and Nelse got Hogan and Lew out and Lew had hold of the flipper.

It is the biggest turtle—there, it’s out now—that ever has been caught in Gravesend. A deep sea turtle at that and weighs anywhere from 150 to 200 pounds.

Lew hasn’t said yet what he will do with the turtle, but he hints darkly of soup. Maybe it isn’t a soup turtle.

How a bit of information gleaned from a janitor may furnish the basis for an amusing little story, developed almost entirely by conversation, in this instance with the added flavor of Irish brogue, is well illustrated by this example taken from the New York Tribune:

Mike, one of the cleaners at the Hall of Records, beamed with satisfaction yesterday afternoon—so much so that every one noticed it. The corners of his mouth wrinkled upward, and he acted as if he had found a pocketbook for which there would be no claimant.[Pg 217]

“It’s all about thim clocks,” said Mike.

“The clocks in this building?”

“The same—the same,” said Mike. “Ye see, we’ve had the divil’s own time wid these clocks, but they’re all right now. They’re all together, like people at the pay window on Saturday afthernoon. I wisht I had the wurrud to fit what has happened to thim clocks. They’s a rare wurrud for it, an’ I heard wan of the assistants up in Pendleton’s office spit it out careless like whin he went out to lunch to-day. But thim clocks is near killin’ all av us. They’re run by electricity, an’ the city paid enough f’r thim to have thim right. But not till to-day have they all struck together, like bricklayers on a job wid the contract time limit two days off. To-day they all got busy to wanst, and now they’re runnin’ dead heats. But I wisht I had the wurrud that tells what happened to thim.”

“Didn’t they keep correct time till to-day?”

“They did not,” said Mike, emphatically. “In the Register’s office the clock took itself for a six-cylinder auto goin’ to the Polo Grounds, and rushed the clerks out of the office an hour and a half ahead of time. Up in the Corporation Counsel’s office it was usually 6 o’clock p. m. whin the honest old City Hall clock gave the hour of 10 in the morning. Down in Captain Bell’s office in the tax department the clock made such a record for itself as a liar and a chate that the captain had to hang a paper over the dial. He said he was ashamed to have an honest man look the clock in the face. An’ so it was all around the buildin’. The clock winder wuz doin’ the windin’ by conthract, an’ he near went plumb crazy. But now thim clocks is all right, fur a wonder. But I wisht I had the wurrud that tells what happened. Here comes Captain[Pg 218] Davis, of the armory board. He knows the wurrud that fits thim clocks when they all got together.”

Captain Davis was held up by Mike, who explained what he wanted.

“An’ I’ll buy a perfecto cigar-r-r if ye’ll give me the wurrud that fits thim clocks.”

“I guess you mean the clocks have at last been synchronized,” said the captain, politely.

“That’s it—that’s it—that’s the wurrud!” shouted Mike. “Thim clocks has been syn—syn—syn”—

Mike paused and the joy died out of his eyes.

“Say, captain,” said he, “phwat the divil is the rest of it?”

“Synchronized,” repeated the captain.

“Yes, that’s it, whativer it is,” said Mike.

The adventures of a trained elephant that escaped in the streets of New York furnished a reporter on the Sun with an opportunity for a humorous animal story that he took every advantage of, as is seen in the following result:

An East Indian elephant weighing a couple of tons or so and bearing the Anglo-Saxon name of Nellie, moved into the tenement house at 336 East Thirty-fourth street early yesterday morning carrying her trunk with her. At or about the same hour most of the other tenants of the house moved out. Shortly afterward the tenants of the house at 338 followed suit, and it was only a few moments later that the tenants in 340 emulated the example of their neighbors in 336 and 338.

Andrew Diehl, the owner of the tenement, did not welcome Nellie with any enthusiasm. He said later that he did not cater to elephants, and anyhow all the flats in his house were occupied. He seemed a bit peevish about the whole affair, apparently having conceived the idea that if it got around the neighborhood that he made a practice of entertaining elephants unawares it might prejudice his house in the eyes of prospective tenants.

[Pg 219]

In short, he spoke quite sharply about the matter, did Mr. Andrew Diehl. But several thousand persons who saw Nellie moving in at 336 appeared to be having a really good time.

Before Nellie moved into 336, and thence through the backyard fence into 338, and thence through another backyard fence into 340, her place of residence was quite a number of blocks further uptown. But she is hard to suit with regard to her surroundings. In fact, before she consented to move into 336, 338 and 340 she insisted on making a number of extensive alterations.

Nellie’s uptown residence was the Hippodrome. She wasn’t exactly an old resident there either, the janitor says, for she moved in there no longer ago than Friday morning, coming directly from the steamship Georgic on the recommendation of a travelling companion, one Alfredo Rossi, who told her that it was a good place to live and that he thought that between them they could do themselves some good there in the way of making a living. This sounded pretty good to Nellie, and as soon as they had hoisted her out of the Georgic’s hold in an enormous sling and deposited her on the island of Manhattan, she started directly for the Hippodrome on Prof. Rossi’s recommendation. Besides, Prof. Rossi had a good sharp goad and some disposition to use it.

In addition to Prof. Rossi, Nellie’s companions of the voyage included three more elephants, Petie, Rosa and Pierrette. Prof. Rossi having some influence with them too, they also went along to board with Nellie at the Hippodrome. The new tenants behaved themselves so admirably at first that the neighbors had no complaints whatsoever to make.

Prof. Rossi came around very early yesterday morning to put the elephants through a little drill preparatory to going into the performance regularly to-morrow afternoon. All would have continued well had Nellie been accustomed to having pigs in the house. But such was not the case. At least the Hippodrome janitor says so. He blames it all on Marcelline’s pig, though he declares that no other tenants of his apartment house ever have complained about the pig.

But Nellie was clearly of the opinion that a pig was out of place in the same house with herself. At all events when she heard that pig squeal and saw him come romping in his usual debonair manner over the stage, she gave one wild blast of her trumpet and determined to go elsewhere. In fact she[Pg 220] went elsewhere, did Nellie, and that forthwith. But she went out, as a perfect lady should, by the customary stage entrance, taking most of it with her and subsequently accumulating large portions of the storm door as well.

Once in Forty-third street Nellie turned toward the east. She was closely pursued by Bill Milligan, a Hippodrome groom, who endeavored with the aid of a shovel to dissuade her from her intention to travel. Mr. Milligan was subsequently reproached severely by Prof. Rossi because he did not use a goad. But Mr. Milligan rejoined with some asperity that he was shaving at the time Nellie tiptoed past him and it was only by the merest chance that he happened to notice her. “And,” added Mr. Milligan, “I don’t use no goad to shave with, anyhow.”

Putting this aside for the moment, the fact remains that Nellie proceeded eastward as far as Fifth avenue. Here she turned to the south. As she approached Forty-second street Traffic Policeman John Finnerty raised one commanding hand, thereby stopping all traffic that had been previously headed in Nellie’s direction. But Policeman Finnerty complains that Nellie did not obey his order to stop. He says he can prove it, too, because there were a number of persons around and several of them in all probability noticed the elephant and can swear that she did not stop when he raised his hand. For a moment, he says, he thought of arresting her, but abandoned the idea, thinking perhaps it would be making too much of a trifling infraction of the traffic rules by a stranger in the city.

At all events Nellie turned to the eastward again when she reached Forty-second street and moved along as far as Second avenue without meeting a soul she knew. In fact she didn’t meet so very many persons face to face, though there were quite a number of people in the lobby of the Manhattan Hotel and the Grand Central Station, and a little group now and then shinning up a casual lamp post or roosting on the top of a subway pagoda. And there weren’t more than 10,000 or 20,000 behind her either.

It looked so lonesome in Forty-second street that Nellie turned southward again when she got to Second avenue out of sheer yearning for human companionship. As a matter of fact there were several persons in Second avenue until a few seconds after Nellie turned the corner, but they all seemed to be in some haste and went away from there before Nellie[Pg 221] could come up to them. In fact Second avenue was so solitary a place that when Nellie got to Thirty-fourth street she thought she would try that just for luck.

She would probably have continued right on to the ferry because nobody thereabouts appeared to have any objection, had it not been for the fact that a fire engine and hose cart galloped through First avenue to answer an alarm turned in from the box at First avenue and Thirty-second street. Nellie was not interested in fire engines. So she took to the sidewalk in front of 334, and at 336 she seemed to say to herself: “This is the place I’ve been looking for.”

At all events she entered the doorway at that number. On the ground floor is Henry Gruner’s barber shop. Henry was shaving a customer when Nellie passed his window and turned into the hall next door. The customer left the chair so promptly that he nearly got his throat cut and disappeared down the street with the towel still about his neck, in the direction of the East River. Nellie walked right through the narrow hall, taking with her a segment of the balustrade. The door that leads into the back yard was not built to accommodate elephants, as Mr. Diehl explained some time later, but Nellie managed to wiggle through it, though she knocked down about half the coping in the process.

High board fences separate 336 from 338, and 338 from 340. That is to say, they did. They don’t now, because Nellie walked through them as if they had been paper. But before this she took a look in at the kitchen window on the ground floor of 336, where Mrs. Gruner, the barber’s wife, and their children, Tessie, Henry and Louisa, were eating breakfast. The happy family looked up from their oatmeal and beheld an uncommon face at the window, the face of an elephant seeking companionship.

Mrs. Gruner and all the little Gruners experienced spots before the eyes and a sudden loss of appetite. In fact, they beat it for the street. It was then that Nellie, again abandoned, moved into 338. There was nobody there either, except up above on the fire escape. So she moved through the fence into 340. Every one had gone away from there too. It was then that the elephant broke down and wept. At least, she lifted up her trunk and trumpeted to the high heavens.

Meantime Prof. Rossi and his staff of assistants had been trailing the wandering Nellie. She was never out of their sight, but they never could quite catch up with her because[Pg 222] there were so many people in the streets who had important engagements and were trying their best to fill them. But by the time Nellie had moved into 340 Rossi and his force had arrived. There were also the police reserves from three stations, several fire companies with hooks and ladders, a squad of mounted cops, the entire force from the Grand Central Station, and enough mere spectators to do credit to a Chicago-New York baseball game at the Polo Grounds.

Vainly did Prof. Rossi endeavor to coax Nellie out by the way in which she had made entrance. Nothing would budge her, and if, as might well have been the case, the courtyard had been entirely surrounded by houses, it might have been necessary to pull one of them down to get her out. Fortunately, however, there’s a vacant lot behind 340, but it was needful to break down two high board fences from the Thirty-third street side in order to get at her.

In the meantime Rossi’s assistants had thoughtfully led the other three elephants, Petie, Rosa and Pierrette, down from the Hippodrome and lined them up in Thirty-third street, and when Nellie looked through the broken fences and saw her merry companions, she let out trumpet peals of delight and all but fell on their necks. So they marched her out into Thirty-third street and back to the Hippodrome without further incident of note. And considering the pains she took to get into her Thirty-fourth street tenement she left it with extraordinarily little apparent regret.

When Prof. Rossi was asked last evening how he accounted for Nellie’s performance, he replied in part:

“Name of a name! Name of a dog! Name of a pig! Sacred thousand thunders! Holy blue!”

In the separation of an old colored couple a reporter might see little to record in a news story, but, with an appreciation of the human interest in the event or with insight into the lives and feelings of the persons concerned, he might write a pathetic story like the following one adapted from the Pittsburgh Gazette Times:

They had climbed the hill together; well on the tottering way down they decided that they must travel the rest apart. Sylvester and Eva Hawkins signed papers to that effect yesterday. They are black folk, these two, old and black, but[Pg 223] they have in their natures a meed of proper sentiment. When the parting came they both wept and the tears were not maudlin.

They have lived for the most part as good citizens should; they reared a family that numbers even more than the Rooseveltian figure; they saved their little earnings until they had their modest home in addition to having given their children better than they had themselves.

But the husband and father, it was alleged, was cruel. It is not denied even by himself that Sylvester was wont to give way to outbreaks of temper. He always was sorry afterward, but sometimes regret did not make up for the harm done. It is charged that once he almost killed his son and only last Saturday choked his daughter nearly to insensibility. This last act was the cause of the son’s making the information against the old man. A preliminary hearing was held last Tuesday and the old man was committed to jail until yesterday.

The son, Sylvanus, wanted his father committed to jail for a term, but the mother would not agree to this. She admitted that she feared her husband when he became violent and that his abuse of her and her children had become unbearable. But she said she still loved him and she did not want him behind the bars. When a bill of separation was suggested she agreed.

Hawkins wept then, as did his wife. He begged to be given another chance, but between her sobs the woman said he had promised to reform so often, all to no effect, that she could trust him no longer. She thought it best for all that they should part.

“I love you still, honey,” the old man murmured, and to show his statement true, he bravely agreed to sign over their little property to her. She bade him a tender good-bye.

The old man walked out alone, over the steps of the municipal building, where he sat down. He saw the family that had renounced him come up, watched them as they took a car, and looked longingly as it rolled away. Then he wiped his eyes again, put his head between his hands and stared vacantly at the ground.

Special Articles. The second type of feature story, that prepared for the magazine sections of Saturday[Pg 224] and Sunday editions or for the editorial pages of any issue, usually consists either of a detailed narrative or of an exposition of some interesting and timely subject. In the news columns there is room for only concise announcements of such events as a scientific discovery, an important invention, the destruction of a landmark, the death of an old actor, a new design for coins or postage stamps, an auction of rare books or paintings, a new theory of the origin of life, the results of an investigation of child labor conditions, a report on decreasing soil fertility, or the adoption by a state of a plan for government life insurance. Any one of these and thousands of other news stories whets the reader’s curiosity for more details. It remains for the editors of magazine sections to try to satisfy their readers’ curiosity and to supply interesting reading matter, by publishing feature articles that are based on these news stories or are suggested by them. Feature stories may also be given timeliness, not by particular pieces of news, but by such events as Christmas, college commencements, the exodus to summer resorts, the opening of the hunting or fishing season, the beginning of a session of Congress. Timeliness, although not absolutely essential if the subject or the treatment has sufficient interest to attract readers, is regarded by editors as an important asset.

These special articles for newspapers are written by regular reporters, by “free lance” writers not connected with any publication, or by men and women in other professions whose special knowledge and whose ability to write make them particularly well equipped to prepare articles on subjects in their own fields. Former newspaper writers, as well as reporters and correspondents in active service, are qualified to do good work of this type because their training has developed a keen[Pg 225] appreciation of what is interesting, important, and timely in current events. Reporters and correspondents also have ample opportunity in the course of their daily round of news gathering to get valuable material which may be worked up into special articles. Editors of magazine sections often suggest or assign subjects to reporters, correspondents, or “free lance” writers, but they are glad to have suggestions from members of the staff or to get well-written articles suitable for their purpose.

Subjects for Feature Articles. Material for special articles is obtained in a variety of ways. Interviews with persons who can furnish the desired information are an effective means of getting facts and impressions, and they have the advantage of giving the reporter material for the “human interest” element which not infrequently adds to the readableness of the article. From books of reference can be gleaned historical and biographical data. Reports and official documents, such as government publications, can frequently be used to secure detailed information. In fact, printed reports of such government work as that of agricultural experiment stations, divisions of the department of agriculture, various testing laboratories, the geological survey, the departments of commerce and labor, or the interstate commerce commission, and reports of corresponding work carried on by various cities and states, furnish quantities of valuable data that need only to be presented in popular form to be of general interest. Some of these reports are summarized briefly in news stories; others receive no mention at all. Although they are called public documents, the general public does not know of their existence. Personal observation also furnishes material for feature stories. An assignment that takes the reporter to the state penitentiary[Pg 226] may at the same time give him the opportunity to get facts and impressions for a special article on some phase of prison life. Statistics, if not too numerous and if skillfully handled, add to the effectiveness of the presentation. Photographs and other forms of illustration make an article attractive. In short, every available source of information can at different times be used to advantage, and often a single article requires interviews, books of reference, personal observation, and printed documents to make it complete and accurate.

Some examples of different kinds of feature articles and their sources will suggest how to find subjects and what to do with them. A reporter whose regular work takes him daily to the mayor’s office may get from the mayor’s secretary some of the hundreds of letters containing complaints and requests for assistance that are sent to the mayor constantly, and may make them the basis of a good feature story. Or, if the mayor writes characteristic replies to these letters, he may secure these answers and make an article out of them, as did a magazine writer recently out of those of Mayor Gaynor of New York. From the reports that he hears from day to day of the devious devices used by burglars and sneak thieves to gain entrance to homes, a police reporter may write an interesting article on how to protect homes against robbery. A sign, “Canaries and Parrots Boarded Here,” may give a reporter a suggestion that he can follow up by visiting the birds’ boarding-house and getting material for an article on those who leave their pets at this house during their absence from the city. From the real estate column a news story to the effect that an old building is to be torn down may suggest a feature story on this landmark and its history, the material being obtained partly from[Pg 227] local histories and partly from interviews with “old inhabitants.” A brief announcement of the death of an old-time circus clown might lead the reporter to write an entertaining “human interest” story of his career from facts secured from the clown’s friends. By spending a few hours watching the building of a big tunnel under a river, and by talking to the superintendent and the workmen, a reporter could work up a good story on the undertaking.

The popularizing of scientific and technical material affords excellent opportunity to a writer whose college training or practical experience has familiarized him with special fields. A new theory in regard to the construction of airships presented before a learned society in a paper on “Some Principles of Aerodynamics,” might make an excellent popular article if the reporter were able to present the new idea in a simple, concrete, and interesting manner. The effect of using up the phosphorus in soil under cultivation, as discussed in an agricultural experiment station report, may seem to be a subject of little interest to the average reader, but an explanation by specific examples of the results of this exhaustion of phosphorus upon the cost of living and upon the welfare of the race, may be made a readable story. To explain clearly how the transmission of the germ of infantile paralysis by means of the ordinary house fly is being determined by laboratory experiments, requires knowledge of bacteriology. For a writer familiar with electricity and its application in the telephone, the problem of explaining in an interesting manner a new device for wireless telephony is less difficult than for one who knows little about the subject. Many writers specialize in the particular field in which they are most interested, and present in popular form all the available new material in this field.

[Pg 228]

To those interested in social, political, and economic problems there is an abundance of good material for feature articles. A report of the interstate commerce commission on railroad accidents or on safety devices can be worked up into a good article at the time that the report is issued or after a disastrous wreck, when such information has peculiar timeliness. Proposed legislation for state life insurance, mothers’ pensions, workingmen’s compensation for accidents and illness, or old age pensions, gives opportunity for timely articles with concrete examples of the workings of these measures elsewhere and discussion of their probable effects under local conditions. A story of child labor in certain industries as reported by a social worker at a legislative investigation, may be followed up by a feature story with a strong “human interest” element developed from further material secured from the investigator. The printed report of a committee of a state teachers’ association on rural schools and the remedies proposed for their defects, has possibilities for an article on these problems.

The Personality Sketch. The personality sketch, or article that undertakes to present a vivid impression of the character and individuality of some person who plays a part in the news of the day, is another type of feature story that is popular. The interest of most readers in the human, personal side of famous or infamous characters in current events is so great that they eagerly read articles of this kind. Dates and facts of biography have little attraction for them; they want the man to be portrayed so vividly that they can see and know him. Not infrequently it is an unusual, quaint, picturesque character who has not appeared in the current news at all that lends himself to such a sketch. Every city furnishes plenty of examples of[Pg 229] persons who make good subjects for feature stories. Incidents, anecdotes, and characteristic utterances, if well chosen and effectively presented, make the best reading and give the most definite impression of personality.

The Style of Special Articles. The style and manner of treatment of the feature story deserve careful consideration. Simple, concrete expression, free from technical or learned terms except when they are fully explained, is always desirable. Specific examples serve most effectively to bring home to the reader a general principle and its application. To lead from these concrete illustrations to generalizations is to follow the natural order of inductive reasoning. Furthermore, the story-like character given to an article by an incident or anecdote at the beginning catches the reader’s attention and interests him at once. Striking statistics in the opening sentence may have a similar effect, although, of course, they lack the “human interest” of the story form. A vivid bit of description is sometimes used to advantage at the beginning. Exposition by narrative methods throughout the article is popular because of the story form thus given to the subject. If, instead of merely describing and explaining a mechanical process, the writer portrays men actually performing the work involved in the process, he adds greatly to the interest of the article. The effectiveness of an explanation of a new surgical operation can be increased to a marked degree by picturing a surgeon as he performs the operation upon a patient at a clinic. The method of procedure and the benefits under a workingmen’s compensation act are best made clear by telling the experiences of several typical workingmen and their families who have come under the operation of the law. Every legitimate literary device for catching[Pg 230] and holding the reader’s attention may be employed to advantage.

How a current event, in this instance the opening of a trial, gives opportunity for an interesting feature article explaining the situation, picturing vividly the persons involved, and developing the “human interest” element in the case, is well illustrated in the following story written by a correspondent of the New York Tribune:

Union City, Tenn., Dec. 13.—Clad in rough homespun, with ragged trousers tucked deep into cowskin boots innocent of polish, with straggling beards and huge slouch hats, but always with the inevitable long barrelled rifle or big pistol in plain view, the denizens of the Reelfoot Lake region are assembling in this quaint little town to-night for the opening scene to-morrow of the Night Rider trials.

They are friends and relatives of the men who are held under military guard at the barracks. They ignore the townspeople, or look at them with scowls. When they meet one another a silent nod or a whispered word is all that passes. Silently and singly they wander through the streets, or stand for hours outside the barracks, gazing curiously up at the windows of the room in which their friends are held incommunicado. Sometimes they approach the trim young sentries on guard, taking careful inventory of the glistening bayonets and rifles.

They feel keenly this trouble, these rough but simple men of the Tennessee backwoods. They believe that they are persecuted and that the entire world is against them. “Old Tom” Johnson, who, the state says, was the first leader of the band, but was deposed because his immense stature and huge hand easily identified him, expresses the belief of most of them when he says:

“It’s like this heah, stranger. God, He put them red hills up theah. An’ He put some of us pooh folks, that he didn’t have no room foh nowheah else, up theah, too. An’ then He saw that we couldn’t make a livin’ farmin’, so He ordered an earthquake, an’ the earthquake left a big hole. Next He filled the hole with watah an’ put fish in it. Then He knew we could make a livin’ between farmin’ and fishin’. But[Pg 231] along comes these rich men who don’t have to make no livin’, an’ they tell us all that we must not fish in the lake any mo’, ’cause they owns the lake an’ the fish God put theah foh us. It jus’ nachally ain’t right, stranger; it ain’t no justice.”

This is the Night Riders’ original view, but the primary object of the band was forgotten by many, officers say, and the organization began to use its persuasion to vent the personal spites of members and to regulate private affairs of many persons for miles around.

For instance, merchants whose total sales did not exceed $2 a day were ordered to sell goods at cost, plus 10 per cent profit; tenants of farms were ordered to pay no cash rent, but to insist on working the ground on shares; growers of grain or tobacco were ordered to plant only so many acres of soil; landlords were bidden by advertisement not to lease their property for cash rents. A woman who had left her drunken husband was ordered to return to him, and when she refused she was taken to the woods, stripped, tied to a tree and lashed with a cat-o’-ninetails until her back and shoulders were one big wound. Other women, fond of pretty clothing, were told to cease wearing it. And every case of refusal to comply instantly was followed by a visit of the black-masked crew, a swift, violent seizure of the recalcitrant, a rapid ride to the depths of the forest and an awful whipping.

For nearly two years these terrors of the wilderness rode nightly. For two years no man not a member ever retired to rest without breathing a silent prayer that he and his family be spared the terrors of a midnight visitation.

Then the riders extended their operations. They began to visit the larger towns, such as Troy, Dyersburg, Union City. This extension was followed by the murder of Captain Quentin Rankin. Finally the people became enraged, the Governor interfered, and in frenzy many persons said:

“We will stamp out this organization, legally or by mobs, or we will be stamped out by it.”

And so came a special grand jury, instructed by Judge Jones and advised by Attorney General Caldwell. Quickly, too, came the defiance of the Night Riders:

“Dismiss the grand jury, stop the investigation or we will send jury, judge and prosecutor to join Captain Rankin.”

The answer was the numerous arrests of alleged Night Riders by the militia and 125 indictments for capital offences.[Pg 232] For the trials on these indictments, which will open to-morrow, the issue is clearly drawn. It is a struggle between organized lawlessness and the forces of order.

The proposed destruction of an historic landmark recorded in a news story and subsequently made prominent by protests against the action, furnished a reporter on the New York Evening Post with an occasion for the following article, in which he blends suggestive description, emotional coloring, and historical background into an harmonious whole:

Mellow notes from an old organ filled the nave of St. John’s Chapel, on Varick Street, to-day. It was Stainer’s “Nunc Dimittis in A” that the organist was playing. Somehow it seemed peculiarly appropriate, for, as every one knows, they are going to discontinue the work of this chapel, which has stood for more than a hundred years. This means that, unless present plans are abandoned, the stately church will be sold within a very short time, and then razed to make place for factory or office building.

There is little doubt that this will occur, although Trinity Corporation has received numerous protests from those to whom the place of worship has meant much, who still regard it as one of the few links connecting them with things that are gone. The corporation cannot see its way clear to provide for a chapel officially regarded as unnecessary. And yet old St. John’s, with its towering brown spire, its richly colored stones, its heavy columns, and chipped, time-stained façade—a replica of old St. Martin’s in the Fields, of London—stands benignly, bearing its past with a genuine dignity.

The peal of the organ ebbed and flowed over the pews with their faded crimson cushions. In one of them sat the priest in charge, listening, very young; until he talked of the church he loved, he seemed strangely apart from the all-pervading atmosphere of things that were old.

Near by was an earnest woman in the garb of the Episcopal sisterhood, and the under-sexton had paused in his work about the pews. When St. John’s organist is at the keys, the roar of the street is repulsed. The rumble of freight cars, the shouts of the handlers of merchandise, the beat of horses’ hoofs enter but gently, mere suggestions of outer confusion.

[Pg 233]

Inside, to-day, all was harmony and peace. Sunshine flowing through plain glass windows lay athwart the floor of choir and chancel; when the music ceased there came a twittering of birds on the window ledges. Yes, agreed the priest, it was a beautiful old organ. In a few years, he said, it would be a hundred years old. Then he told a story concerning it. He could not vouch for it himself, although he had heard it vouched for by reliable persons.

At the time of the war of 1812, when the church was comparatively new, it had sufficient money in hand for a pipe organ, which was ordered of a company in Philadelphia, and when completed was shipped to New York by water. On the way the vessel which bore it was captured by a British frigate, and the organ was taken to London. Here it remained two years, and was then yielded up after the payment of two thousand dollars. Time has imparted to it a rare tonal richness. It is just the organ for this edifice, so suggestive of things that once were.

Men who know say that you will find such chapel interiors only in the old Sir Christopher Wren churches in London. The cruciform architecture of more modern houses of worship is not here in St. John’s. Lines are sweeping, stately. Heavy fluted columns support the gallery. The windows are of the older sort, unstained, and the walls and ceilings are an even gray, undecorated.

Notes of color are confined to organ pipes and choir stalls, which are red and blue and white, with gilding. But these are not as bright as they once were; neither are the blue-starred arches above chancel and choir.

Years ago, when St. John’s Park was not covered by a freight station, and when many of the “first families” lived hereabouts, the congregations bore comparison with those of any church in the city. But tide of travel made uptown before encroaching commerce, which eventually flowed over the district, converting it utterly.

Congregations which gather here each Sunday are not so fashionable as in years gone. But they are none the less faithful and earnest and devout. You will find ’longshoremen and their families here now—dwellers of the Laight and Vestry and Hudson Street tenements; you will find their children in the Sunday-school. To-day there are nearly, if not quite, 500 communicants in this parish—no indication, it might be thought, that the church has outlived its usefulness.

[Pg 234]

This year, according to a parishioner who should know, this congregation of the lowly contributed $300 to the diocesan mission fund, and that, he asserted, was a better showing comparatively than St. Thomas’s twelve or fifteen thousand dollar contribution. Certainly, as he said, the St. John’s parishioners gave all they could afford, probably more; and since the teachings of the church hold that it is the spirit in giving rather than what is given that counts, St. John’s has no need to be ashamed.

It has been suggested by the Rev. Dr. Manning, rector of Trinity, that St. Luke’s Chapel can adequately attend to the needs of the parishioners of the older chapel. But, as a matter of fact, St. Luke’s is a mile above, and is more a Sunday-school room than a church edifice at best. Those who attend service on Varick Street say that congregations average from two hundred and fifty to three hundred each Sunday morning. The breaking up of a company of worshippers of this size presents a problem in parish economics and ethics that the Trinity Corporation has probably seriously considered in contemplating abandonment of the chapel.

Many houses in the vicinity of the chapel, formerly the abodes of wealthy parishioners, now shelter four and five families. Huge warehouses adjoin each side of the parish property, but there is no impression of crowding. The churchyard is wide. On one side is a playground for children. There are many shade trees here, and bushes which in summer bear flowers, making of the place a beauty spot amid a grimy environment. Directly across the street is the great New York Central freight station, where dummy trains receive and deposit freight. The station site was formerly a private playground, as Gramercy Park is to-day, but those who lived in the houses which surrounded it had begun to move away before the depot was erected in 1868.

St. John’s Park was laid out in order to attract persons to the chapel, which, when built, in 1807, had been spoken of as “too far uptown,” small congregations for the first year or so justifying this contention. As a means of attracting dwellers to the vicinity, the park was planned, and took the name of the chapel. This design succeeded beyond all expectations. Alexander Hamilton and Gen. Schuyler were among the early migrants north of Great Jones Street, and the section soon received the stamp of fashionable approval.

Many of these old dwellings still stand. You may see them[Pg 235] on Hudson Street, on Laight Street, on Vestry Street, with their dormer windows, their fanlight doorways, and high porches, flanked by tall iron posts. In those days, St. John’s vied with Trinity itself, and with St. Paul’s.

In 1839, when Trinity Church, deemed unsafe, was pulled down and work on the present structure was begun, many communicants of that church came to St. John’s, following their great organist, Dr. Hodges, who played here during the seven years occupied in the building of the new Trinity. Organists who followed were devoted to the task of maintaining St. John’s excellent repute in music.

In 1876, long after the environment of this chapel had been given over to commercialism, George F. Le Jeune came to the chapel as organist, and under his ministrations the chapel was famous as a place where the most excellent sacred music in the city was to be heard. Le Jeune it was who introduced the cathedral form of service in this city. In 1877 he instituted a series of musical services which continued at St. John’s for ten years, and served to familiarize the public with a large number of cantatas and oratorios not generally known. Old residents often speak of the music they used to hear at St. John’s, and there is not a Sunday morning that does not find some one of them here, reviving old memories. This is not difficult, because the music at St. John’s is still altogether excellent.

South of the church stands the vine-clad parish house. Here, each Saturday morning, year in and year out, rain or shine, sixty-seven loaves of bread are distributed to the poor women and children of the district, in accordance with provisions of the will of Gen. Leake, a wealthy communicant of the parish, who died in 1792, leaving $5,000 to be put out at interest, the income to be laid out in sixpenny wheaten loaves, to be distributed among the poor. This charity, known as the “Leake Dole of Bread,” has been faithfully observed for more than a century.

Back of the chapel there was a little street called St. John’s Lane, a beautiful tree-shaded bypath in the old days. In the course of years the city advanced, blotting it out of usefulness. Few know it still exists. It is a quiet, deserted, odd little nook of a place, a harbor where shelter may be found from the roar of the city.

By noticing the various odd ways in which some men make a living in New York, a reporter on the Sun[Pg 236] secured interesting material for an article which the editor entitled, “Little Wants of a Big City.” A selection from the article follows:

Anybody can be a clerk or a clergyman or a bank president or a teamster. It takes more individuality to strike out in a career like that of the man who works but one week in the year. This man is Santa Claus. His head is covered with a mass of snow-white hair. It falls down over his venerable shoulders and mingles with his equally white beard. The latter falls far down his chest and the old gentleman looks for all the world like the pictures of Santa Claus. Every holiday season he can be found working in some store, posing as the holiday saint, rattling shiny toys before the fascinated gaze of New York’s million children.

Fifty-one weeks in the year he works not at all, and how he subsists and has enough money to buy his little red drinks no man can tell.

The line-up man is a product of New York and of nowhere else. He belongs to a clan of agile, sinewy legged brethren who infest back yards, and his business is to shin up the poles from which are suspended innumerable clotheslines, to fix up frayed out lines, tie on new ropes and get the courtyard rigging into shipshape condition against the Monday wash. He will climb the highest pole in Harlem without the aid of a net and fix your ropes for 25 cents.

“Lady, it is decidedly unsafe to trundle your baby about in that rickety carriage,” is the greeting of the vender of rubber tires for perambulators.

After convincing a startled mother that she has been carelessly subjecting her child to terrible danger from capsizing, the crafty salesman swoops down upon the carriage, tacks on a set of new tires, tinkers up a rickety spoke, slaps a cracked hub together and goes on his way with a merry quarter in his jeans. It’s another odd job.

Take the industrious sellers of keys. They come up to your tenement home, knock at the door and ask whether you need a new key to the chateau. If you have just lost your last key the keyhole genius stoops down, twiddles around with a blank key and some beeswax, files a couple of notches in the blank, and presto—you have a shining new key all for ten cents. A locksmith would take two days and charge you a quarter.

[Pg 237]

Precisely speaking, the man with the camera cannot be included in this list of people who make a living out of curious jobs. Most folks have seen him anchored on a bright corner of a Sunday afternoon taking the pictures of one and all for the small sum of 10 cents.

When you have on your best bib and tucker you strike a dignified pose, with your smaller sister leaning against you, and in two jerks of a lamb’s tail your likeness is slipped upon the post card, which is kept forever after in the family album, where in years to come you gaze upon it and wonder how two such spindly legs supported such a large child.

The man with the telescope doesn’t make a handsome income, and he usually looks unhappy and ill at ease, but for a nickel he will show you the ridges in the moon and the canals on Mars, and if the bulbous top piece of the Metropolitan tower gets in the way it’s your own fault and your nickel is lost.

Next comes what is in reality a woman’s calling, but strangely enough it is followed by a large man with an extremely red face and a stubby mustache. Children must like him because his business is checking them while bargain seeking mammas thread their ways through the aisles of stores.

He stands at the head of a line of baby carriages, soothing his round faced charges and waving a tinkling strapful of ragged edged checks. Upon delivery to him of the check which he gave you when you entered the store you may receive again your baby. No check, no baby, just as in the Chink’s place.

You mightn’t think that a man could eke out an existence selling catnip. One does, though. He stands at an uptown corner with a basketful of cat’s delight, selling it for two cents a bunch, and the old maids in the vicinity make daily trips to his corner. When you’re inclined to growl about your present salary, think of the man selling catnip for two cents a bunch.

Here’s another funny occupation. A man goes around through the sweatshop district mending shoes. If you are a sweatshop employee you generally have one pair of shoes, and of necessity they are on your feet. You can’t leave them with the cobbler when the roof springs a leak or the uppers secede from the lowers. You haven’t time to sit around his shop in your stockings.

[Pg 238]

So this itinerant cobbler hunts you up at your shop, takes off your shoes while you sew and caulks up the seams, tacks on soles and heels, and you pay him with a cheerful smile and some small change.

People who go downtown at night rarely miss seeing the man who advertises various things through an electric sign on his chest. He presses a button at intervals and a light flashes urging you to buy a cigar or a stick of gum or something else. The right thing to say, because everyone says it upon passing this individual, is, “That’s a fine thing for a grown man to be doing.”

Down the bay there is another industry most people never hear of. Enterprising venders owning their own boats meet incoming tramp freighters and sell the crews everything from a pair of mittens to a cough cure. They load their craft with most things you find in a department store and they drive fine bargains with the sailors.

Among the newly arrived immigrants a number of men manage to scrape a living by selling first lessons in English to the strangers struggling with the tongue. These lessons are in the form of simple English sentences followed by the translation in the tongue of the foreigner. Five cents will buy enough assorted conversation to last a new immigrant several weeks.

When in the course of his regular work the reporter comes upon a picturesque bit of local color, as did a writer on the New York Evening Post in going through the Italian quarter of that city, he may use it to as good advantage as the Post reporter did in the following feature story:

Under the tinsel, gilt, and colored paper shrine erected before a café in Mulberry Street, just north of the Bend, there is a picture of St. Mary of the Virgin Mount, and the devout who pass by drop their mites into the plates. The clinking of pennies, nickels, and quarters rings fair and true through the medley of sounds which rise from the crowds about the push-carts, and it is music to the ear of Michel Siniscalchi, giver of this year’s festa in honor of the saint.

A year ago they gave a festa in honor of Maria SS. di Monte Vergine, as the placards and lithographs displayed in[Pg 239] the shop windows style her, and it proved a financial failure. It costs money to give a festa—that is to say, a festa of the style and extent which are necessary in doing adequate honor to this saint. In Italy, in the villages from which the people who live about the Bend come, it is customary to have a festa in honor of the saint every year. And it seemed hard when the people who got up last year’s festa decided that they did not again wish to have to shoulder the burden of the festa’s bad debts.

At this time, when everybody else had backed down, Michel Siniscalchi, who deals in colored glass bulbs and similar decorations, stepped to the fore. He said it seemed a shame that they could not honor the saint. Indeed he was so pained by the thought that he would be willing to bear the expenses of the festa himself. He would, of course, furnish all the decorations himself, and his name would appear as president of the comitato on the banners and placards.

This offer was accepted with glee by the men and more especially by the women, who would have taken to heart the loss of a chance to honor their saint. And Michel Siniscalchi set to work to organize his festa. It was, by the way, part of the agreement, that the offerings placed in the saint’s shrine should go to help Siniscalchi.

Colored lights were strung in arches over the narrow street at frequent intervals, banners and yards of bunting draped the house windows, the confetti men and peddlers of fruit and sweetmeats came from blocks around, and on Saturday night the festa opened with much braying of music and no little religious devotion.

The most important decoration was the shrine of the saint’s picture. In a niche of the shrine the picture was placed, and rows of candles were set before it and the tasseled cloth of gold on which it rests. Then there were the plates and certain lithographic reproductions of the picture.

Since Saturday night the festa has held full sway. There is a preliminary celebration in the morning, and then everybody stops until two o’clock in the afternoon. For a brief spell around dinner time, every one but the band rests, and after dinner the people turn out to listen to the music and to gossip. It is a great occasion for gossip, the festa.

At present everybody is talking about the amount of money Michel Siniscalchi may lose by his speculations. The old men sit before the banca across the street from the shrine and[Pg 240] chuckle over his discomfiture, for, while yesterday and Saturday night the coins clinked in the dishes with merry rapidity, now they barely dribble, and, when a clink is heard, by its very novelty it strikes through all other noises.

“Caught,” they chuckle. “Yes, our Michel is caught this time. A cute one, he is. Yes, a cute one, Signor. No, not a politician. But cute, so cute. Ay, and this time he has been caught. Has the signor heard? The signor has but to cross the street and examine the blessed saint’s shrine. ’Tis bare, Signor. Nought but pennies.”

But there are others who are not so sure that Michel Siniscalchi is going to lose by his speculation. Among the younger generation of Italians his scheme is treated with considerable respect, and his Bowery friends wink when Michel’s intelligence is aspersed.

“Lose?” queried Jack Gallagher, sitting with a group of friends in the café behind the shrine. “Lose, did you say? Aw, g’wan. Say, Michel wasn’t born yesterday. He’s got his brains in his head. He’s too rapid for dese wops. Michel’s got a business eye, he has. He’s thinking of advertisin’. See that sign up there? See Michel’s name on it, good and big? See them lights? All from Michel’s store. Aw, he’s a wise guy. He knows his game.”

While Gallagher talked, the infrequent pennies, with an occasional nickel, dropped into the plates, and presently the figure was carried toward Spring Street, with at least 150 women and children and a band in the procession.

Simplicity and naturalness may be given to an explanatory article by putting it in the form of an interview with the person from whom the information is obtained; this was done in the following story from the New York Sun:

“For the last three years I have devoted my summer to making balanced aquariums to order,” said a woman who is now in middle life. “I earn enough by this work to keep me comfortably during the winter, so I call myself a successful woman wage earner.

“I make my aquariums as nearly a perfect reproduction of natural conditions as possible. It is only since the discovery of balanced aquariums that the full decorative effect[Pg 241] of displays of aquatic life has begun to be realized. Now many architects and interior decorators include them in their plans. This is true not only of country places but of many of the newest city homes. Certainly there is no easier and cheaper way to keep some living thing about the house. The care of the balanced aquarium amounts to so little that it may be practically disregarded.

“The cost of the vessel depends entirely upon the wishes of the person who is filling it. It may be an ordinary fruit jar with a wide mouth or a glass tank costing $20 or more. The simplest tanks cost about $1 and are of something more than one gallon capacity. They may be had either rectangular in shape or globular. For an eight gallon tank of domestic glass I have paid as little as $2.50. The main essential is to have a tank perfectly tight and clean, with no paint or other injurious material to contaminate the water.

“To begin with, the water should be as pure as the water we drink. The bottom should be covered with pebbles and sand to the depth of two inches with the plants rooted in it. There is a great variety of aquatic plants that may be had at a cost of from 10 cents to half a dollar a bunch. Of them all fanwort is the most valuable. Hornwort, water starwort, tape grass, water poppy, willow moss, milfoil and a number of floating plants such as lemma, duckweed, salvinia, hydrocharis and hyacinth are among the most important varieties. If one has lived long enough on any water course in the country to know these plants, taking them from their native soil and transplanting them to the sand of the aquarium is a simple matter.

“The most important occupants of the aquarium are the fish, and great care should be taken not to put in too many for the size of the tank. The basis of the balanced aquarium is one fish, say three inches in length, to each gallon of water. If your tank holds five gallons of water you could not make a well balanced aquarium by putting ten fish three inches long in it. If the fish are smaller the number to the gallon can be very greatly increased.

“Gold fish or golden carp are the most popular stock for an aquarium, and the common varieties can be had for ten cents each. This price means the best fish of these varieties. If there is more money to be spent I would advise purchasing some of the really marvellously colored Japanese varieties.

[Pg 242]

“These fish have wonderful flowing tails with colors that change as though by magic from week to week. In the case of the variety known as the telescope fish the color to begin with is velvety black and gradually becomes silvery, then white, and after three years a wonderful orange red. Nearly all varieties of goldfish are constantly changing their colors, which range from black to silver and many shades of amber and golden red.

“There is an almost endless variety of these beautiful Japanese fish to choose from, the more common of which include the fantails, fringetails and comets. Good specimens of these varieties may be bought at from 25 cents to $5 each. The bulgy eyed telescope fish, the aristocrats of the aquarium world, will cost from $5 apiece up, according to size, color, shape and eyes.

“In addition to the Japanese fish there are many other rare varieties suited to balanced aquariums. Among the most popular are the banded tench, the banded sunfish, the paradise fish, the bitterling and the golden tench. Besides these I have orders for many varieties of our own native waters.

“Such orders usually come to me singly, and the one giving the order is quite willing to pay the cost of having his taste suited. These people, usually men, want an aquarium with the fish of their boyhood days. They candidly admit that they wish them as reminders of the happy days long past.

“Where native fish are wanted I usually use sunfish, dace, catfish, minnows, sticklebacks, chub, mirror carp, rockfish, small eels, alligators, newts, frogs and turtles of all sizes and shapes and colors. I always when possible have a snail, tadpole or a few newts in my aquariums, as they are scavengers and will consume much of the decaying matter thrown off by the plants, besides preventing the green scum that will form in still bodies of water.

“Beginners must be particular not to mix their fish indiscriminately. They must always remember that goldfish cannot live in peace with catfish, sunfish, eels, turtles, crawfish, rockfish or sticklebacks. If this rule is not observed, the goldfish will eventually lose the battle for life and be killed.

“Goldfish if properly cared for live to a great age. There is an aquarium in Washington where the goldfish are known to be more than fifty years old.

[Pg 243]

“Balanced salt water aquariums are as easily made and kept as those of fresh water. Of course they must be filled with sea water fresh from the sea and all the inhabitants must be the young of various sea creatures, such as crabs, starfish, shrimps, and anemones. The plant life also must be the varieties that flourish in the sea, and where possible I believe in taking the pebbles and sand from a sea washed beach.

“Beginners must be careful about two points. First, in making aquariums they must not overcrowd them by trying to have too many fish for the volume of water. Second, they must not overfeed their pets. Failure to observe these two rules causes more trouble than all other points connected with the making and care of aquariums.

“In a balanced aquarium the daily care consists in feeding the fish with prepared wafers, dried ants’ eggs, or fish food. Fish should never be fed more than they will eat up clean at the time.

“Fortunately fish are subject to few diseases. The amateur has only to remember that salt water is the cure-all for sick fish. If a fish is out of health and the trouble is caused neither by overcrowding nor by overfeeding, a five minutes bath in salt water every day for a week will in nine cases out of ten restore it to its usual good health and spirits.

“All that is necessary to catch the sick fish is a small net that can be conveniently handled in the aquarium. Though I have been making aquariums of different sorts ever since I was a small country girl, I still use a net and avoid touching the inmates with my hands unless it is positively necessary.

“When I catch my own fish from their native waters I use a small net, very little larger than the one used in the aquariums, and a minnow bucket. These are my only tools.

“I find a ready sale for all the aquariums I have time to make after filling my special orders. Of course there are seasons when the demand is more brisk than others. When those times come I always have a dozen aquariums on hand which I have stocked either for my own satisfaction or to try some new theory.”

The interview form may be combined with a character sketch and biographical material in order to give the reader a glimpse of the speaker’s personality as well as an account of his or her work. The selection from[Pg 244] the New York Times given below is the first part of a long article which is in the form of an interview after this introduction:

Even when Mrs. Alice Stebbins Wells fishes about in her bag and produces her policeman’s star for verification one can hardly believe that she is the famous first “policewoman” of Los Angeles. Scarcely five feet in height, slender, with a mild, almost timorous voice and a pair of very round blue eyes, Mrs. Wells presents an appearance about as formidable as that of a kitten. Yet she has been permanently appointed as a regular member of the police force of a city of 400,000, subject to the same regulations, vested with the same authority, and under civil service, as any male member of Los Angeles’ bluecoat squad. She makes arrests and prefers charges in the same way and with as much success as any policeman, and is a very substantial vindication of the power of personality in an institution where brute force and a six-foot stature have formerly been thought to be indispensable prerequisites. Here is what she says of a phase of police work:

“And do I carry weapons? No, indeed. That is something which I do not feel called upon to do. I am very firmly convinced that under the right conditions a policeman would not have to carry a weapon at all. But before the policeman can give up his gun and his stick, weapons must not be sold indiscriminately to citizens. The only reason now that a policeman requires a weapon is because the other fellow may have one, and the law must enforce its demands against all objection. It is a very sad commentary on our civilization that guns and brass knuckles are displayed openly for sale, and that almost the only restriction in our most careful communities is a provision for a license, which is easily obtained.”

Mrs. Wells is the first woman to be appointed to a police force in any city of the United States. The woman detective, the police matron, the probation officer, the district nurse, are all places which have been filled by women, and were of course the forerunners of the policewoman. But while they were vested with partial police authority their power was greatly restricted along certain well-defined lines, and they did not work in recognized co-operation with the police department.

Before entering her work on the Los Angeles police force Mrs. Wells had been in active training as a social worker. The general attitude which she takes toward that stratum of[Pg 245] society with which she comes most in contact is hinted at in her adaptation of the philanthropist’s, the cheery social worker’s, vocabulary. Mrs. Wells never resorts to the threadbare term of “uplift,” but puts in its place that rather more welcome “upbuilding.”

Returning to California from social work in the East, Mrs. Wells entered upon a scientific study of crime. She became impressed with the importance of the police department in its capacity to prevent crime as well as to punish it, and was convinced of the need of women workers on the inside of the police department to strengthen the emphasis on the side of prevention. She set to work to obtain signatures to a petition for a woman police officer, which resulted very promptly in her appointment to the police force of Los Angeles, where she has been at work for the last three years.

In addition to her regular police duties, Mrs. Wells conducts a bureau of information to which clubs and civic organizations which are working to obtain women on the police force of their home cities may apply. She is now on a six months’ leave of absence, not only to investigate conditions throughout the country, but to carry on her “campaign” for women police. She is speaking before city clubs and organizations of every sort, and is visiting the mayor and chief of police in every city.

“I have spoken all the way across the continent and I shall speak all the way back. I realize that I am in a way doing propaganda work. When I applied for my appointment in Los Angeles I thought chiefly of the immediate work to be done right there by a woman. But when I was appointed, then came this—this terrifying publicity—and I realized what it meant.

“I realized that I should have to stand behind a sort of ‘movement’ for women in the police departments of other cities, just because I was the first in the field.”

Effective presentation of the life and the character of a man who has “done things” is illustrated by the following “personality sketch” by Mr. Brand Whitlock, published in the American Magazine, but equally well adapted for newspaper publication:

Those citizens of Ohio who a dozen years ago used to throng the big circus-tent in which Tom L. Johnson was then[Pg 246] making his first campaigns in the country districts will recall the figure of the slender youth with the Grecian profile and the fair hair who used to stand there under the flaring light and speak of fundamental democracy. They, or those of them who were accessible to such impressions, caught something of the spirit of youthful idealism that was in the young man; if they did not, his presence and personality gave them reassurance, for attendance on one of Tom Johnson’s meetings in those days was, in Ohio, an enterprise to impart the thrill of a spicy and dangerous adventure. Time flies, and time has flown fast in this last decade, and the political ideas that Herbert S. Bigelow was helping Tom Johnson to disseminate, though they were flouted and scorned then as heretical, insane, and wicked, have since become, by the inevitable and monotonous operation of the universal law of progress, conventional, respectable, orthodox, and popular.

Herbert Bigelow was then not many years out of Lane Theological Seminary—strange spectacle in Ohio, that of a minister addressing Democratic meetings!—and he was pastor of the Vine Street Congregational Church, in Cincinnati. Vine Street Congregational Church was in itself an instance of the operation of the old law. Before the Civil War it was a hotbed of abolition when abolition was unpopular and unorthodox even in Ohio, though everybody in Ohio is an abolitionist to-day, and, if he is old enough, claims to have been so then. But after the war the Vine Street Church became respectable, with a cold and formal atmosphere of black walnut and musty cushions of a magenta shade, and when Herbert Bigelow began to preach a somewhat too literal application of the social ethics of Jesus, not to Hankow or Kordofan, but to Cincinnati, there was a disconcerting rustle in the pews, the tendency of that doctrine being to decrease the revenues of the church in an inverse ratio to the increase in the number of human beings in the congregation.

It is an interesting story, not to be told here in detail, of how Herbert Bigelow struggled, of how they tried to get him out of his pulpit, and of how he worked for a long time without salary, until Daniel Kiefer devised means of financing the institution, so that it lost its ecclesiastical atmosphere, became a People’s Church or forum for free speech, and moved into a theater where radicals preach their various and conflicting heresies on Sunday afternoons, after moving pictures have illustrated the progress of the species.

[Pg 247]

Meanwhile Herbert Bigelow was increasingly prominent in political reform movement; he lectured everywhere, wrote articles for radical publications, organized the Ohio Direct Legislation League, and poured all his energy into the propaganda of the initiative and referendum. The privileged interests opposed him, of course, and still oppose him. One way they did it was to call him Reverend; whenever it was necessary to frighten “good” people, by holding up his image, they printed the Reverend with the subtle and sinister implication of quotation-marks; whenever it was necessary to influence “bad” people, printing the Reverend without the quotation-marks.

But Herbert Bigelow was an idealist growing day by day more practical. He had had hard knocks in boyhood; he knew what it was to be poor; he had a love of his fellow man; he was saddened and appalled by the shadow of poverty everywhere, the shadow which so many are too blind to see, or too selfish and cowardly to admit. But this spirit of sympathy and of pity in him had been somehow ordered, organized, and made coherent by the philosophy of Henry George, and when that vision came to him, as does nearly every other who has a vision, he went to work for social justice.

His great opportunity came when, last year, a convention was called to draft a new constitution for Ohio, and he set out to impress the people with the fact that it was their opportunity. He organized the Ohio Progressive Constitution League, with subsidiary leagues in every county; he worked all summer; and through that league, aided and inspired by what the lecturers call the Spirit of the Times, a majority of delegates elected to the convention were pledged to the principles of direct legislation.

And for the first half of the year Mr. Bigelow was at Columbus, presiding over the constitutional convention as its president. At forty his figure is no longer slender; it has taken on the rotundity of the middle years; but as he sat there in gray tweeds, with the yellow hair hanging over his forehead, smiling, it must have been gratifying to him now and then to reflect that his old heresies had become so orthodox in his own time. The convention adopted articles providing for home rule for cities, for a license system to control the liquor traffic, for equal suffrage, for verdicts in civil cases by a three-fourths vote of the jury, for the welfare of labor, and, under Mr. Bigelow’s leadership, a clause adopting the initiative[Pg 248] and referendum in the State. When the vote was taken, and Herbert Bigelow had the satisfaction of announcing the triumph of the principle he had so long advocated, it was a moment that all his friends were glad to have him experience. The irony in which the fates usually award their laurels was not wanting in that instance, for in the clause there is a proviso that the initiative and referendum shall not be used by the people to adopt the single tax, supposed, in Ohio, to be a method of despoiling farmers by taxing land according to its superficial area. But Herbert Bigelow, whom fate taught long ago, like Josh Whitcomb, to accommodate himself to circumstances and to take what he can get, smiles and is happy; and his friends are happy with him.


  1. Find the “human interest” in current events.
  2. Notice the comedy and tragedy in life.
  3. Look for good subjects for character sketches.
  4. Look to future events as well as to current news for subjects for feature articles.
  5. Jot down suggestions for feature articles.
  6. File news clippings, statistics, and other material bearing on good subjects.
  7. Write your feature article while it is new and timely.
  8. Give your article timeliness by connecting it with topics of current interest.
  9. Don’t forget that the story that touches the reader’s heart is the story he remembers.
  10. Make your pathetic story simple and restrained.
  11. Don’t confuse sentiment with sentimentality.
  12. Avoid cheap humor and vulgar slang.
  13. Don’t ridicule another’s religion, race, or nationality.
  14. Make your explanation clear to a reader who knows nothing about the subject.
  15. Use incidents, anecdotes, and concrete examples for clearness and interest.
  16. Avoid technical and scientific terms.
  17. Let your first sentence arouse interest and curiosity.

[Pg 249]


1. Write a humorous animal story based on the material in the following news story:

Just because they thought an ostrich was a timid, harmless sort of creature, two men, one white and one black, were badly hurt at Mineola, Long Island, yesterday. Each of the men tried to catch and hold an ostrich at the Mineola Fair Grounds. The negro was kicked in the face, and landed about 20 feet from the bird; the white man was kicked in the chest and knocked down and had his clothes torn off him.

The ostrich that did all the damage is named Fleetwing. He and another ostrich, named Fleetfoot, arrived from Florida in two crates yesterday morning. They were brought to Mineola to race on the fair grounds this week at the fair of the Queens-Nassau County Agricultural Society. The birds have been trained to run races and pull light sulkies to which they are harnessed.

They are bad tempered, however, and are kept blindfolded frequently when they are not racing. A blindfolded ostrich is gentle as a lamb.

The blinding hood slipped off the eyes of Fleetwing at the fair grounds yesterday morning and in an instant the big bird was out of its crate, which was not covered. It started off on a run, and about two hundred persons ran after it. There was a merry chase around and around the racing track, and finally the ostrich was cornered.

A big negro looked at the ostrich and said:

“I reckon there ain’t no chicken ever were raised that I couldn’t hold, boss. I’ll hold his laig, an’ then you grab his haid.”

The negro wrapped his arms about one of Fleetwing’s legs and in a second was lifted into the air and landed about 20 feet away, with an ugly wound in the side of his face. Then Keeper Ford approached the ostrich from the front, and got an uppercut on his diaphragm, cutting his chest and tearing his clothes. Finally the ostrich was roped and recrated.

“That ain’t no chicken,” said the negro as he watched these proceedings from a safe distance. “That there’s a two-laiged mule.”

2. Make a more entertaining “Zoo” story out of the facts in the following article:

The Chinese wildcat in the Central Park Zoo has received a new lease of life, according to the keepers there, and a graphophone may be used now to make life seem more worth while to[Pg 250] him. If this plan is adopted one of the machines will collect sounds in Mott Street that are expected to help to cure the cat’s recurrent fits of nostalgia, which is the dictionary name for homesickness.

There is a box nailed to the wall by the side of the quarters of the lady hippopotamus and her young son, and on a shelf of this lies all day long a slim and long-bodied little animal with green eyes and a sweeping tail. The yellow sign says that it is a “Felis Chinensis.” He may take exercise at night, but all day he is motionless, still, apparently melancholy, noticing nothing.

He is in surroundings that offer little congeniality. The lady hippo and her young son are out of his class. The capybara not only is from South America, but is like a rat magnified some two hundred times. The lions across the aisle are from climes unknown to the Chinese wildcat. Practically everything in the Central Park Zoo has long ago learned how to eat peanuts, and has thus become more or less Americanized. The Felis Chinensis will not have peanuts.

Last week a couple of Chinamen, rare visitors at the Zoo, strayed into the lion house, stopping before the home of the wildcat. The minute he heard their talk he jumped from his shelf and began purring and rubbing himself against the side of his box. He played ball with a chicken bone on the floor, and had a good time. The uplift he got from this rode him along joyously for two days afterward.

And there is a plan on foot, say the keepers, to collect Mott Street sounds in a graphophone for the Felis Chinensis, if more laundrymen don’t visit the Zoo. There is some apprehension, however, as to how the lions and the tiger will take the graphophone.

3. Use the facts in the following clipping as the basis for an amusing hunting story:

A rabbit that residents of Sayville, L. I., declare plays on the piano has taken possession of a big house near Oakland, owned by Alexander H. Hunter. Mr. Hunter and his family are in Europe, and until they return bunny will lord it over parlor and pantry.

The rabbit didn’t go into the house because it wanted to. It was chased there by men with guns and dogs intent on taking its life, and the rabbit, unwilling to yield itself up for stew, bolted into the Hunter house via a drain pipe.

This was the way of it:

Herman Schmidt and a friend went out with dogs and guns yesterday for a hunt, and the hounds soon started the particular Br’er Rabbit who is making faces at the hunters from the front window of the Hunter place. When the dogs got close Br’er Rabbit didn’t hesitate. He laid his ears back and was away like a streak, with dogs and men in hot pursuit.

[Pg 251]

Toward the Hunter home ran the hunted and hunters, and it looked as if Schmidt would have a rabbit stew for supper. But the hunters had not calculated on a drain pipe which stuck out of the ground about 150 yards from the house, and great was their chagrin when cunning Br’er Rabbit whisked into it and disappeared.

Now that pipe leads right into the Hunter house, and pretty soon the hunters saw bunny at one of the windows. When they approached he retreated to the piano and kept running back and forth over the keys, making soft music.

There is no caretaker in the house, and the possibility of the damage that the rabbit will do, for which the hunters may have to pay, is appalling.

On the other hand, the rabbit may have to come out of the house to get something to eat. If he does he will get a warm reception at the end of the drain pipe. A couple of dogs are lurking about there. They tried hard to get into the pipe but they were too wide.

4. Write a pathetic story, using the particulars given in the following narrative:

Dog Catcher Larson visited the Home for the Friendless with his little blue wagon Thursday afternoon, and he left behind him one hundred little tots with saddened hearts and cheeks that burned with scalding tears.

The bewhiskered dog catcher is no respecter of persons or of dogs. The high and low are the same to him, and he recognizes no distinction between the poodle and the fice. And so Thursday afternoon he gathered in the little pet of the children of the Home of the Friendless.

True, it was the pet of these little unfortunates. True, that they had raised this little dog, and that now it was only seven months old—not old enough to know about Atlanta’s dog law. Still, Jerry had no tag, and tagless Jerry therefore must take his place in the blue wagon and must await his turn to be ducked to death.

The children had no money and so could not pay the dollar for the tag. Now that the dog was arrested, still less did they have the $2.25 necessary to save him from a watery grave.

One and all they went to bed with heavy hearts, and as they knelt down beside their beds they did not forget to put in a word for “Poor Jerry!”

Friday morning the pangs of sorrow were too great, and their grief burst forth in wails. Jerry had been a companion to them, a faithful friend and a source of solace and comfort. He had never deserted them—and then Jerry was theirs, had been fed by them, raised by them, taught by them.

[Pg 252]

They knew it was not their fault he had not been tagged, and also they knew that Jerry was not to blame. And so they appealed to the superintendent. They begged, pleaded, cried. Nothing would suffice but the restoration of their fice.

The superintendent appealed to the mayor, the mayor to the probation officer, and now the probation officer is trying to touch the heart of the dog catcher.

All of the children are writing letters to city officials. “The cook got mad with Jerry,” writes little Ruth Wilson, “because he stole two of Mother Henry’s chickens, but Jerry didn’t mean any harm. Cook gave the dog to the dog catcher. We have got all the cats we want, but only one little dog—and that is Jerry. Please give him back to us, for we love him very much.”

5. With the facts given in the news story below as a basis, write a pathetic feature story.

Moving pictures inspired ten boys to “lynch” Harry Werner, their 9-year-old playmate, in Glencoe yesterday. So serious are his injuries that he may be crippled for life.

It was a “wild west” picture, absurd to the practical mind in its unrealities, that gave the boys their idea.

They saw in the flickering pictures a score of “cowboys,” their revolvers strapped on the wrong side, while they mounted their horses also from the wrong side, and rode with the grace and skill of wooden Indians.

The boys did not notice these details. They saw only the rakishness and swaggering daredeviltry. They applauded vociferously the “stringing-up” of the actor-cowboy.

“Let’s play wild west,” one 10-year-old enthusiast proposed after the show. The vote was unanimous.

Wooden revolvers were fashioned. Fathers’ discarded hats took the place of sombréros. Broom sticks served as prancing bronchos.

“Who’ll we lynch?” one asked. Harry Werner was selected. His dark hair and eyes led to his unwilling selection by them for the rôle of “villain.”

They tied a clothes-line under his arms and threw the rope over a branch of a tree. Whooping madly, in true moving-picture-wild-west fashion, they pulled him up until his feet were far from the ground.

The thin rope cut into his tender flesh. He struggled and implored his comrades to let him down. His pleas brought renewed whoops. Had not the “villain” in the moving-picture struggled and cried for mercy?

For half an hour they kept him there. Then they cut the rope and let his body fall to the ground. Their childish eyes did not see that he was unconscious. They seized the rope and dragged[Pg 253] him for several minutes, leaving him on the ground to find his way home alone.

Physicians who examined him declared that he may be disabled permanently.

6. Rewrite the following humorous story, making it more effective in every way possible.

Tommy is a hero to-day. All his playmates that live on Greene street, near Wolcott avenue, are envious, and speak to him in awed whispers, for did he not go to hunt a Saracen and return covered with bean-juice and glory? All their mothers, too, are keeping a sharp watch on the family crockery.

This is how it happened:

Papa Devine had told Tommy about a lot of men who called themselves Crusaders, who went to lick a lot of other chaps known as Saracens. And when papa told him how the Crusaders wore armor plates on their chests and backs and arms and legs and big helmets on their heads, Tommy decided that he would take a crack at the Saracens himself.

When Papa Devine went out, and Mamma Devine was busy upstairs, Tommy thought it would be a good time to start on his crusade.

Going into the kitchen, he tied a frying pan about his neck so that it hung down over his stomach, strung the lid of the clothes boiler over his back, and then sought a helmet that would resist the swords and battle-axes of the enemy.

As he pondered he sniffed the air. Then a bright idea came. Cautiously he opened the stove door. Mamma Devine was cooking beans à la Boston and Tommy Devine drew forth a big round stone pot full of the delicious fruit. Carefully he emptied the contents into the sink and thrust the pot on his head.

The bean juice ran down into his eyes and ears, but that didn’t matter—he was going to hunt Saracens. Then the pot felt uncomfortable, and Tommy decided to take it off and refit it to his head.

Horrors! The pot would not budge. It was stuck on his head. Pull as he might he could not get it off. He sat down in the corner to plan a campaign of action, and consoled himself with licking the dripping bean treacle from his nose end. That got tiresome after a while, so Tommy sought his mother.

Mrs. Devine scolded over the lost beans at first, and then tried to remove the pot, but she, too, was unsuccessful. Then she became alarmed. In desperation she started for the doctor’s with the pot still on Tommy’s head, the pans jangling around his neck, and the bean juice running down his back.

Passengers in the street car dropped their papers in amazement, for they did not know that Tommy was a crusader, while Mrs.[Pg 254] Devine looked out of the window and tried to make it appear that crusading was an every day affair.

But Tommy’s tears and wails attracted the attention of an old man. He stopped the car and called the motorman, who came with his controller handle in his hand.

“Crack the blamed thing off,” ordered the old man.

The motorman cracked, and off fell the jar. Tommy set up a whoop of joy, and Mrs. Devine hurried home to give the erstwhile crusader a bath—and a spanking.

[Pg 255]



What Copy-Reading Means. All news stories, whether written by reporters, sent through the mail by correspondents, or received by telegraph or telephone, must be read and edited before they are set up in type. This work is done either by the editor in whose department the news belongs or by a copy-reader. The reading and editing of copy consists of:

(1) Correcting all errors whether in expression or in fact.

(2) Making the story conform to the so-called “style” of the newspaper.

(3) Improving the story in any respect.

(4) Eliminating libelous matter.

(5) Marking copy for the printer.

(6) Writing headlines and subheads.

The good copy-reader must be able to catch instantly, and correct quickly, errors of all kinds. Good copy, or “clean copy,” as it is called, should be free from mistakes in spelling, grammar, and rhetoric; but rapid writing too often leads to carelessness, and the copy-reader’s work is correspondingly increased by the necessity of doing what the writer has neglected to do. The correction of such errors, however, is not the most important part of his work. He must be able to detect and correct errors of fact. As every art, science, business, occupation, sport, recreation,—in short, every form of activity, is the subject of news, the copy-reader should be able to pass intelligent judgment on the accuracy of stories written about these various activities.[Pg 256] He must also be familiar with proper names that appear in the news, such as names of prominent persons and places the world over, the titles of well-known books, plays, pictures, and musical compositions, the names of railroads and important corporations, and special trade-mark names. To no one in the newspaper office and to few outside of it, can the words of Terence more truly be applied than to the copy-reader, humani nihil a me alienum puto, “I consider nothing human to be outside of my sphere.”

Like the good reporter, the copy-reader must be an accurate judge of news values. He must be able to see the significance of the news in the story. He must be able to decide how much space it is worth. If the real point of the news has been buried by the writer, the copy-reader must get it out and give it the prominence that it deserves. The ineffective lead must be rewritten, the needless details cut out, and the parts of the story rearranged for the best effect.

To improve the style of the story, he must consider carefully the construction of paragraphs and sentences, the choice of words and figures. Each paragraph should be given an effective beginning that will catch the reader’s eye in rapid reading. Close connection should be maintained between the sentences in the paragraph. The copy-reader must transform the weak, rambling sentence into a firm, coherent statement with an emphatic beginning. For the trite, colorless word or phrase, he must substitute the fresh, picturesque one. The too figurative flights of exuberant fancy in one young reporter’s copy must be toned down, and the bald, prosaic narrative or description in another’s given life and interest. In short, the copy-reader’s work is constructive as well as critical; it is as important for him to rewrite and rearrange as to cut out and boil down.

[Pg 257]

The responsibility of determining whether or not any statements or implications of the story as written are libelous also rests upon the copy-reader. He must know the law of libel, therefore, as it is construed in his state, and must prevent violations of it in the matter that he edits. Less often he is called upon to decide whether or not anything in the news story violates laws regulating the transmission of printed matter through the mail. Whenever the copy-reader is uncertain on any important point involving the management of the newspaper, he refers the question to his superiors.

Some Common Errors. In reading copy rapidly the beginner will do well to be on the lookout for certain kinds of common errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. The quick eye of the copy-reader will catch the frequently misspelled words without difficulty, but uncommon proper names are more likely to cause trouble, and in cases of doubt, books of reference should be consulted. To prevent errors in grammar from slipping through in a story, the copy-reader should note such points as (1) the agreement of the verb with the subject, particularly when they are separated from each other by words or phrases; (2) the relation of pronouns to their antecedents; (3) the position of participles in relation to the words that they modify; (4) the use of coördinate conjunctions to connect elements of the same kind; (5) the position of correlative conjunctions with relation to the elements that they connect.

In punctuation, not infrequent errors are (1) the use of a comma instead of a semicolon to separate independent, grammatically unconnected statements; (2) the omission of apostrophes in the possessive case and in contractions; (3) the omission of a period after abbreviations; (4) the use of double instead of single quotation marks; (5) the failure to put quotation[Pg 258] marks at the beginning of each paragraph of a continuous quotation and at the end of only the last paragraph.

Following the “Style Book.” As each newspaper has its peculiar “style,” so-called, the copy-reader must learn the rules set forth in the “style book” which his newspaper prints for the guidance of its reporters, editors, copy-readers, and compositors. These rules have to do with capitalization, abbreviation, hyphenation, punctuation, use of numerical figures, and also with the use of certain words and phrases. The form and size of each kind of headline and the number or letter by which it is to be designated in the copy, are sometimes included in the style book. Every newspaper office has its own method of designating the heads, either by number or letter, whether or not the method is printed in the style book. Almost every style book has a long or short list of “Don’ts,” which includes common errors to be avoided and frequently those words and phrases that are pet aversions of the editor-in-chief or of the managing editor.

How the Copy-Reader Works. In all this work of the copy-reader the important element is speed. Every minute is valuable in the newspaper office, and only those who can work rapidly as well as accurately can expect to hold a position long. To rearrange, to reconstruct, to correct, rather than to rewrite, and to do this quickly and skillfully, is the real work of the copy-reader. To putter over details is an inexcusable fault. The combination of speed and accuracy in a copy-reader is the ideal of the editor.

On large newspapers under the plan of having all news copy read at one desk by copy-readers under the direction of a head copy-reader, every news story goes to the head copy-reader, who, after deciding on its value, determines how much space it is worth and what[Pg 259] size head it shall have. Before passing the story over to one of the copy-readers, the head reader gives it a catch-line, or “slugs” it, to indicate its character and to serve as a means of identification. He also indicates by means of a number the size of head to be written for it; for example, “No. 1 Wreck” indicates the name of the story and the style of head.

If the copy is being read page by page as fast as it is written rather than after the whole story is completed, the guide or catch-line may be repeated at the top of each page, thus “4 Storm,” which means that this is page 4 of the storm story. The head copy-reader also keeps a record of all copy that passes through his hands, the entries in which may be something like this, “Walters—Wreck—500—No. 1—11.15 A.M.—more,” which means that from one of the members of the staff named Walters, he received a story of a wreck that contained about 500 words; that he gave it a No. 1 head; that it went to the composing room to be set up in type at 11.15 A.M.; and that more of the story is to follow.

When the head copy-reader passes over the story to the copy-reader who is to edit it, he may give verbal directions in regard to cutting it down, “playing up” important facts buried by the writer, or improving the form or expression as he thinks best; or he may leave all these details to the discretion of the copy-reader. The latter begins to correct and improve the story as soon as he has finished the piece of work that he has in hand. It is not unusual during the rush hours when time is very valuable to send stories to the copy desk as each page is written, and as the page is edited, to send it up to the composing room to be put into type, without waiting for the complete story. Under these circumstances a copy-reader is often editing alternate[Pg 260] pages of several entirely different stories, all the details of which he must carry in mind in order to handle them intelligently and to write a complete and accurate headline if, as is sometimes the case, this is written only after the last page of copy on the story has been read.

Use of Guide Lines. Catch-lines, such as “Society,” “State,” “Sport,” aid in assembling news that is to go on one page or in one department. When several independent stories, each with a separate head, are to be assembled so that one will follow the other, the catch-lines may indicate this thus: “Lead Convention,” “Follow Convention,” “First Follow Convention,” “Second Follow Convention,” etc. In making up a report of a state or national political convention, these catch-lines are of considerable assistance. When, on the other hand, copy is being edited that is to follow immediately upon the lead or any part of the story without a separate head, the copy is marked “Add Convention,” “First Add Convention,” “Second Add Convention,” etc.

Not infrequently after the story has gone to the composing room new facts of sufficient importance develop to warrant the writing of a new lead or of a new paragraph or two to be inserted somewhere in the story. In the case of a new lead the copy is marked “New Lead Convention,” and the copy of the inserts is marked “First Insert Convention” or “Insert A Convention.” Whenever it is known in advance that there are to be additions to the story later, the copy-reader writes “more” at the end of the piece of copy, instead of the end mark (#). If the head is not sent to the composing room with the copy, the copy is marked “Head to Come.” This is often done when it is known that important news is coming that should be embodied in the head. If this later news is to be put into the lead, the story may be sent up without a lead and with the explanation[Pg 261] “Lead to Come.” Stories to be used in a particular edition are marked “Noon Edition,” “Market Edition,” etc. All these catch-lines should be taken out when the type is assembled in the forms in making up.

The typewritten copy of telegraph news furnished by news distributing agencies like the Associated Press and the United Press has guide lines on stories for the benefit of the editors whenever such explanatory matter is necessary. In order to keep their newspaper clients informed of the latest phases of the news, these associations send brief bulletins and “flash” statements, which they follow with more complete stories as the news develops. The first news of an accident, for example, comes as a bulletin, and later more details are furnished in one or more additions to the original bulletin or in substitution for it. The following example taken from the United Press telegraph news service illustrates how news stories, the parts of which are furnished at intervals during the day, are supplied with guide lines:



Norfolk, Va., Nov. 2.—Six men have been reported injured, two probably fatally, in an explosion on the battleship Vermont, early today.



The Vermont is now in Hampton Roads and only meagre details of the reported accident were received by the navy yard here. It was understood that the explosion occurred in the boiler room of the vessel.



Norfolk, Va., Nov. 2.—In an explosion in the boiler room of the battleship Vermont last night, six men were scalded,[Pg 262] two receiving possibly fatal injuries. While the ship was cruising a short distance off the capes which form the entrance to Hampton Roads, a part of the boiler burst, filling the engine room with scalding water and steam. Captain Hughes immediately sent a wireless message to the hospital ship Solace and the wounded men were transferred at sea to that vessel, which brought them to the Norfolk hospital to-day.

The injured men are:

R. M. Wagner, fireman second class.

M. C. Horan, coal passer.

J. R. Newberry, fireman first class.

M. T. Green, fireman first class.

C. A. Hoteling, coal passer.

P. W. Cramer, coal passer.




The accident occurred while the Vermont was anchored off the southern battlefield drill grounds, where the annual fall target practice began today. The head of the boiler burst and a torrent of boiling water and steam poured out over the firemen and coal passers. Wagner and Haran (correct) who were nearest the boiler head, were the most seriously injured, both being scalded from head to foot. The hospital ship Solace asked that the navy hospital here make ready for the injured men and said that she expected to reach Norfolk this afternoon. It was reported, but without confirmation, that Haran had died of his injuries.




Norfolk, Va., Nov. 2.—Two men are dead and four others this afternoon lie swathed in bandages suffering terribly from scalds, as a result of a boiler explosion on the battleship Vermont early today. R. M. Wagner, a fireman, first class, and M. C. Haran, a coal passer, are the dead.

The hospital ship Solace brought the dead and wounded[Pg 263] to the naval hospital here today. The Vermont broke all her former speed records in a run




in a run from the southern drill grounds, outside the capes, to Hampton Roads, arriving here late this afternoon.

Wagner and Haran both died on the Solace, suffering terribly from the scalds that covered them from head to foot.


FLASH: Salem, Mass., Nov. 26.—Ettor, Giovannitti, and Caruso acquitted.



Court House, Salem, Mass., Nov. 26.—Ettor, Giovannitti and Caruso, the three labor leaders who have been on trial nearly two months charged with murder as the result of the killing of a woman striker during the textile troubles at Lawrence, were acquitted to-day


Sizes and Kinds of Type. Editors and copy-readers need some knowledge of type in order to do their work efficiently. The size of type is measured by the point system. The unit of measure, a point, is one seventy-second of an inch. Six-point type, accordingly, is six seventy-seconds of an inch, 10-point is ten seventy-seconds of an inch, and 36-point is thirty-six seventy-seconds, or one half, of an inch in size. Before the point system was adopted, each size of type had a name, and these names are still in common use. Thus, 5½-point type is known as agate, 6-point as nonpareil, 7-point as minion, 8-point as brevier, 9-point as bourgeois,[Pg 264] 10-point as long primer, and 12-point as pica. Nonpareil, or 6-point, is the size commonly used by large newspapers, and minion and brevier by smaller papers.

Type is classified as body type and display type. Body type is that which is used in newspapers for all reading matter; display type is the large sizes, or “faces,” of type used in headlines and in advertising. As distinguished from the light-face body type, the heavy faces, that print blacker than the body type, are known as bold-face type (abbreviated, “b.f.”). Thus the boxed summaries and lists on pages 8688 were marked to be set in 6-point bold-face type (abbreviated, “6-pt. b.f.”).

Type is further classified on the basis of the proportion of the height of the letter to its width, as extra-condensed, condensed, regular or medium, and extended. Extra-condensed and condensed faces are used in the top deck of large headlines, and medium, or regular, faces are usually used for banner heads extending across the page, as well as in underline and overline heads for cuts. As distinct from slanting or Italic type, the usual perpendicular type is called Roman.

Different kinds, or faces, of type are given names by type founders, such as “Caslon,” “Cheltenham,” “De Vinne,” “Ronaldson.” Each kind or face is generally made in different sizes, body sizes commonly ranging from 5½-point to 12-point, and display type from 8-point to 120-point.

A “font” of type of a particular size and kind consists of a complete set of letters, figures, etc., each character being furnished in numbers proportional to the frequency with which it appears in ordinary printed matter. Type is kept in shallow wooden trays, or “cases,” divided into compartments, or “boxes,” one for each character. Capital letters (abbreviated “caps.”) are[Pg 265] often called “upper case,” and small letters are always known as “lower case” (abbreviated “l. c.”), because the capital letters are in the upper of the two type cases and the small letters in the lower one.

The amount of type set is measured by the number of “ems” (from the letter “M”). An “em” is a square of a given size of type; i.e., an em in 8-point type is eight seventy-seconds of an inch square. The standard unit of measure for type matter is usually the 12-point, or pica, em. A column of a newspaper that is thirteen ems wide, therefore, is thirteen 12-point ems, or thirteen picas, in width; i.e., it is one hundred and fifty-six seventy-seconds of an inch, or two and one sixth inches wide. Advertising space is measured by the so-called “agate line,” on the basis of fourteen agate lines to one inch.

In setting type by hand, the compositor has a small metal tray, or “stick,” inclosed on three sides and adjusted to the width of a column or a line, into which he places the type, letter by letter, as he picks it out of the case before him. As a stick holds about two inches of type, a “stickful” has come to be a common expression for about two or two and one half inches of printed matter. A news story is spoken of by editors and compositors as being two or three “stickfuls” long, and an editor often tells a reporter to “write a stickful or two” on a particular story, or directs a copy-reader to “cut it down to a stickful.”

Type is “leaded” when thin strips of lead or brass are placed between the lines, these “leads” being two points in thickness. When two of these 2-point leads are placed between the lines, the type is “double-leaded.” If no leads are used, the type is said to be “solid.” The first paragraphs of news stories are often leaded, and very important news, particularly short[Pg 266] bulletins for extra editions, are frequently double-leaded. In most parts of a newspaper, however, the type is solid. All type and cuts are made of the same height—that is, they are “type-high”—so that when used together they will present an even surface for printing and stereotyping.

Marks Used in Copy Reading. The marks used in editing copy are a few simple time-saving devices to indicate to the compositor how the matter is to be set in type. They are as follows:

The image above shows seven marks used in copy reading. More are shown in the image at the top of the next page. The marks shown here are | Three short lines under a letter or word indicate that it is to be set in capital letters. | Two short lines under a letter or word indicate that it is to be set in small caps. | One line under a letter or word indicates that it is to be set in Italics. | A circle around figures or abbreviations indicates that they are to be spelled out. | A circle around a word or numbers spelled out indicates that they are to be abbreviated or figures used. | A caret is placed at the point in the line where the words written above the line are to be inserted. | The paragraph mark (¶) or the sign ⅃ is placed at the beginning of each paragraph. |

[Pg 267]

The image above is the continuation from the previous page of marks used in copy reading. Five more marks are shown or described here. | A cross (X) is used for a period. | Quotation marks are often put in half circles to indicate clearly whether they are beginning or end marks. | Elements to be transposed are marked thus: | The example shows a line starting underneath the first element then continuing to the left then up around its top then down between it and the second element, continuing under then around the end of the second element to end on the top of the second element. | A line is used to connect the end of one line with the beginning of another when both are to form a continuous line of print. | The end mark which is the hash symbol (#), or the number 30 in a circle, is written at the end of every complete piece of copy. |

The application of these marks and the catch-lines in the editing of copy are shown by the following typical pages:

[Pg 268]

The two images above show the typewritten copy of a short news item which has been edited by a copy reader who has applied these marks to indicate to the compositor how the matter is to be set in type.

[Pg 269]


  1. Familiarize yourself thoroughly with all details of the typographical style of your paper.
  2. Read every word of copy carefully.
  3. Work as rapidly as is consistent with accuracy; don’t putter over corrections.
  4. Make all corrections and changes so clear that the compositor can not misunderstand them.
  5. Revise and rearrange whenever possible instead of rewriting.
  6. Cut out all needless words and phrases.
  7. Don’t think that your own way of expressing an idea is the only good way.
  8. Scrutinize carefully all participles, pronouns, conjunctions, correlatives, and “only’s.”
  9. Watch for the omission of the apostrophe in possessives and contractions.
  10. See that all quoted matter is properly enclosed in “quotes.”
  11. Be sure to put single “quotes” on quotations within quotations.
  12. Verify names, initials, addresses, dates, and facts generally.
  13. Be on the lookout for libelous matter.
  14. Give every story a distinctive guide line.
  15. Don’t confuse “add’s” and “follow’s” in marking copy.
  16. Keep a record of all copy read with size of head, length of story, author, and time.
  17. Draw a line around all directions intended for the compositors.
  18. Consult your superior when in doubt about the propriety of anything in copy.


Point out all changes that should be made in editing the[Pg 270] following piece of copy and show how each change should be indicated:

Washington, D. C. August 21—

According to a statement issued here to day by the treasury department the first deposits of the Governments fifty million dollar fund to aid crop movements will be made in the Southern States in Aug. and Sept. All deposits in all states, declares William B. MacAdoo, secretary of the Treasury and who orginated the plan of assisting banks of the South and West, will be made in 2 equal allottments. He outlined the Treasury Department’s requirements for security in to-days statement

While all deposits may be recalled without notice the treasury expects to recall 25 per centum Dec. 15th, another 25 per centum on Jan. 15th, another February 15 and the final portion on March 1. The banks will pay two per cent. interest and all expenses

Secretary McAdoo’s statement says the government expect by making the deposits in National Banks in principle cities the funds will be used in good faith for releiving stringancy and not to speculate with and that it will be distributed to smaller banks at moderate and reasonable interest. Deposits only will be placed with banks who have forty per cent of their circulation of banknotes out standing.

10 per cent of the security must be in Government Bonds and the remaining 90 per cent. may be high class state, municipal and other bonds at 75 per cent of their market value and approved by the secretary. Prime commercial or business paper will be excepted at 65 per cent. of their face value when indorsed by the bank, approved by the Secretary and unanimously approved by a “securities committee” of 6 members in the clearing house district in which it comes. The secretary of the treasury will name one member of each comittee. Commercial paper the statement point out must represent legitinate commercial transactions preferably endorsed with two names and the borrowing bank but single name paper will be accepted in the judgement of the Treasury.

Any of the banks may return the deposits at any time before Mar. 1.

The Secretary’s statement of to day outlined many details which are chiefly of interest to bankers concerned.

[Pg 271]



The Function of the Headline. Headlines as developed by the American press during the last half-century have come to be, next to the news itself, the most important part of our newspapers. From mere labels to indicate the kind of reading matter to be found in the columns under them, headlines in this country have developed into bulletins giving the substance of the articles to which they are attached. By presenting conspicuously in large type the important facts of the story which it precedes, the headline serves a double purpose: it makes possible rapid reading of the news thus outlined in the head, and it becomes an advertisement of the news to attract the purchaser.

Heads Promote Rapid Reading. As concise summaries of the facts of the news, headlines fill an important place in contemporary American life, for, by reading only the headlines, the busy man or woman can get in brief outline the news of the whole world. The size of the type and the arrangement of the parts of the headline aid in a marked degree this rapid reading. Well-written heads that give clearly and accurately the information of greatest significance in the stories under them are an integral part of the newspaper, the function of which, as has been said, is to give the readers in a clear and interesting form the news of the day.

How Heads Advertise News. By their form and position, likewise, the headlines act as advertisements for what the paper contains. Like all good advertisements,[Pg 272] headlines should create interest and lead to the sale of the paper. By arousing the reader’s curiosity and at the same time partially satisfying it, the head, when skillfully written, attracts the reader’s attention and influences him to read the story.

A newspaper that aims to have large street sales will naturally take advantage of the advertising element in the heads, by making them as attractive as possible. In fact, the efforts of some newspapers of this class to make the most powerful appeal possible, have led to extreme forms of headlines with great black type and with varicolored effects. In general, morning papers and evening papers with regular subscribers are less inclined to employ large heads for advertising their news than are those evening papers with several street editions that seek to have large sales. Large heads extending across several columns and printed in green, red, or black ink set forth the latest phases of the news in a manner well calculated to catch the eye as the paper is displayed on the news stand or in the hands of the newsboy. As in advertising in general there is always a temptation to make alluring statements at the expense of truth, so in headline advertisement there is a tendency to exaggerate and magnify in order to catch the unwary reader.

Large Heads and “Yellow Journalism.” Since the more sensational papers have taken advantage of this advertising element and have yielded at times to the temptation to exaggerate or even to misrepresent, as is not unheard of in advertising generally, large display effects in headlines have come to be associated in the popular mind with so-called “yellow journalism.” The connection between the two is by no means inevitable, however, for large headlines need not be any more sensational or inaccurate than smaller ones, and[Pg 273] may legitimately be used to attract attention to the real features of the news. Conservative papers that do not depend to any considerable extent on street sales tend to keep up the smaller headlines long used in American newspapers, which, while giving the substance of the news in outline, do not attempt to advertise prominently the contents.

Clearness and Conciseness. Regarded as a bulletin of the most important facts in the news, the headline should present these facts in a clear and concise manner. To be clear the form should be one that can be taken in by the eye at a glance. The relation of the divisions, or “decks,” of the head should be evident, so that the reader may get a clear idea of the bearing of one statement on another. The statements should be concrete and specific. The limitations of space make it necessary for the headline to be concise so that the maximum number of important facts may be included.

Action in Headlines. As news is largely concerned with activities, headlines should express the action related in the news story. In defining oratory Demosthenes said that the three essential elements are: first, “action”; second, “action”; and third, “action.” The same characteristics may well be ascribed to the most effective headlines. Life and vividness of expression give interest to heads as they do to the news story. Freshness and originality of phrasing are also successful provided the uncommon form is clear. Short, crisp, specific words constituting definite statements that can be readily grasped in rapid reading, generally make the best headlines.

Headlines are Impartial. Headlines, like the news stories of which they are summaries, should be impartial. It is possible to “color” headlines so that they[Pg 274] give a false impression of the news in the stories to which they are attached. The reader tends to carry over into the news story the impression which he gets from the headline, and a “colored” head, therefore, tends to “color” even an impartial, accurate news story. Headlines likewise should not comment on the news; comments on the news should be made in the editorial columns.

Divisions of Headlines. The headline is composed of one or more divisions called “lines,” “decks,” or “banks.” These divisions are separated by dashes and are frequently different in form and in size of type. In the following head, each deck has a distinct form and size of type.

In the image above, the top deck is labelled | 3-part drop-line |. It shows three lines of upper-case text in a large font. Each line is of about equal length and are shorter than the width of the column. The start of each line is shifted further to the right. This creates a staircase effect on the right-hand side of the head.

The first line reads | ONE GIRL’S ACT | and its beginning is pushed up against the left-hand column rule. The middle line says | PREVENTS 60,000 | and is centered between the column rules. The third line says | FROM WORKING | and its end is pushed up against the righ-hand column rule. Together the three lines of the head says | ONE GIRL’S ACT PREVENTS 60,000 FROM WORKING |.

The next deck in the image is labelled | 3-part pyramid “bank” |. It is a three line head, each line graduated in length to produce an inverted pyramid effect. These three lines of mixed-case text are in a font that is smaller than that used in the deck above. The first line of the bank says | She Refuses to Join the Union and |. This line takes up the full width of the column. The second line is shorter than the first and is centered between the column rules. It says | Every Mill Owner is Against |. The third line of the inverted pyramid is shorter again than the previous two lines and is also centered between the column rules. It says | Closed Shop |. Together the three-line head says | She Refuses to Join the Union and Every Mill Owner is Against Closed Shop |.

The third deck in the image is labelled | cross-line |. Its form is a single line of upper-case text. In this instance the line of text spans the full width of the column. It is displayed in a font whose size is midway between the font used in the first deck and that used in the second deck. The line says | WEEKLY LOSS $2,500,000 |.

The fourth and final deck in the image is labelled | 4-part hanging indention |. By that it means there are four lines of text with a hanging indent. That is, the first line of the headline spans the full width of the column while the next three lines are indented by the width of two characters from the left-hand column rule. This deck is in mixed-case whose font size is smaller than that used in the other three decks. Together the four parts of the head says | Says She Quit Organized Labor Because She Does Not Believe In It and Declares She Will Not Return Despite All Threats. |

Headlines are constructed on the basis of the four forms that appear in the above example, which may be[Pg 275] called respectively, (1) the drop-line; (2) the pyramid; (3) the cross-line; and (4) the hanging indention. Graphically these forms may be represented thus:

The graphical representation shown in the diagram above is a simpler representation of the previous example. It replaces the lines of headline text with thick lines to more clearly demonstrate the structure of each of the forms. The four forms shown in the image are labelled | (1) Drop-line |, | (2) Pyramid |, | (3) Cross-line | and | (4) Hanging indention |.

Drop-Line Heads. The drop-line head may consist of two, three, or four parts arranged as in the following three heads:

The image above is example | (1) |. It shows a drop-line head in two parts. The first line or part of the head says | MOVING PICTURE MEN |, the second says | START WAR ON TRUST |. Together the two parts of this drop-line head says | MOVING PICTURE MEN START WAR ON TRUST |.

[Pg 276]

The image above exhibits the remaining two examples of drop-line heads. Example | (2) | shows a drop-line head in three parts. The first part or line of the head says | LOWELL MEN WANT |, the second says | CANAL TO CONNECT | and the third says | CITY WITH BOSTON |. Together the three parts of this drop-line head says | LOWELL MEN WANT CANAL TO CONNECT CITY WITH BOSTON |.

Example | (3) | shows a drop-line head in four parts. The first part or line of the head says | SEVEN CHILDREN |, the second says | SAVED AS HOME |, the third says | AND BIG FACTORY | and the fourth says | IN EVERETT BURN |. Together the four parts of this drop-line head says | SEVEN CHILDREN SAVED AS HOME AND BIG FACTORY IN EVERETT BURN |.

Cross-Line Heads. The cross-line head consists of but one line which may or may not fill the whole space between the column rules. In the following examples, the first head fills the line, and the second only part of the line.

The image above contains two examples of cross-line heads. Example | (1) | says | POSTAL BANK BILL PASSES |. It spans the full width between the column rules.

Example | (2) | says | SEES PERIL IN TARIFF |. It is shorter than the line in the example above so is centered between the column rules.

Pyramid Banks. The pyramid head may consist of two, three, or four parts, graduated in length to produce the inverted pyramid effect. The following “bank” illustrates the pyramid of three parts:

[Pg 277]

The image above displays a pyramid bank of three parts. The first line reads | Promoters of International Av- | and fills the whole space between the column rules. The last word on the line, which would be | Aviation |, is divided with a hyphen so the rest of the word starts the next line of the pyramid bank. That next line reads | iation Tournament Decide |. This line is shorter than the one above and is centered between the column rules. The third and final line of the pyramid bank reads | to Use Race Track. | and is shorter still. Like the line above, it is centered between the column rules. Together the three lines of the pyramid bank says | Promoters of International Aviation Tournament Decide to Use Race Track. |

Hanging Indention. The hanging indention head consists of several parts, the first of which begins at the column rule on the left, while all the others are indented the width of one or two letters.

The image above is an example of a hanging indention head in four parts. It is in mixed-case as is normal for this type of head. The first line fills the whole space between the column rules. The second, third and fourth lines of the head are indented two characters from the left-hand column rule but each of those line fills the rest of the column width except for the last line which is shorter and ends with a full stop.

The first line reads | Immense Wealth is Stored Up |. The second line reads | in Vaults of Country’s Repos- |, the last word of which should be | Repository |, but it is divided with a hyphen so the rest of the word starts the next line of the head. That next line reads | itories for Coin, Bullion, and |. The last line of the head reads | Other Precious Metals. | Together the four lines of the hanging indention head says | Immense Wealth is Stored Up in Vaults of Country’s Repositories for Coin, Bullion, and Other Precious Metals. |

The drop-line, cross-line, or pyramid may be used in any deck, whereas the hanging indention head is used only for a deck other than the first.

Combinations of Forms. Various combinations of these four forms may be used to give the variety required for all kinds of stories. For large heads a combination of a two part drop-line, a three part pyramid, a cross-line or another drop-line, and a second pyramid, constitutes a frequent form, as is seen in the following example:

The image above contains a head made up of a four-deck combination of forms, each deck separated from the one below with a short horizontal rule.

The first deck is a drop-line head in two parts. Each line is upper-case and displayed in a thin but large font. The first line reads | FRENCH STRIKE ENDS | and the second | AFTER DAY OF CRIME |.

The second deck is a pyramid bank of three parts. It is in mixed-case and displayed in a smaller font size. The parts say | Railroad Men’s Union Orders | Work Resumed on All Tied | Up Lines To-day. | Together the three parts of the head reads as | Railroad Men’s Union Orders Work Resumed on All Tied Up Lines To-day. |

The third deck is a cross-line head in upper-case and displayed in a font slightly larger than the one used in the preceding deck. The line reads | BOMB OUTRAGES CONTINUE |.

The fourth and final deck of this large headline is another pyramid head in three parts. It is in the same case and font size as the second deck which was also a pyramid. The parts of this head say | Attempts to Blow Up Passenger | Trains and Bridges Arouse | Public and Police. | Together the three parts of the head says | Attempts to Blow Up Passenger Trains and Bridges Arouse Public and Police. |

[Pg 278]

A large three part drop-line head may be followed by a hanging indention line and by a cross-line, as in the following case:

The image above contains three decks separated by short horizontal rules.

The first deck is a large drop-line head in three parts. It is all upper-case displayed in a medium-weighted font. The parts of this head say | TREASURY CHANGE | CAUSES A RECOUNT | OF NATION’S FUNDS |. Together the three parts says | TREASURY CHANGE CAUSES A RECOUNT OF NATION’S FUNDS |.

The middle deck is a hanging indention head in four parts. It is displayed as mixed-case in a smaller and thinner font. The parts of the head say | Amazing Wealth is Stored Up | in the Vaults of Country’s | Repositories for Coin and | Bullion. | Together the four parts says | Amazing Wealth is Stored Up in the Vaults of Country’s Repositories for Coin and Bullion. |

The third deck is an upper-case cross-line head in a font of medium weight and size which says | WEIGHING MONEY BAGS |.

For smaller heads there are several sizes of two part drop-heads, or of cross-lines combined with pyramids or hanging indentions of two or three parts; for example:

The image above contains two examples of smaller heads. Example | (1) | is constructed of two decks separated by a short horizontal rule. The first deck is a cross-line head in upper-case. It is displayed in a small font, probably of a similar size to that used for column text that would follow. It reads | COLLEGE BOYS TURN WAITERS |.

The second deck of this example is a pyramid head of two parts. It is mixed-case displayed in an even smaller font than that used in the deck above. Its two parts say | Break Strike in Evanston Restaurant | When Girls Walk Out. | Together the lines of the two decks in the example says | COLLEGE BOYS TURN WAITERS Break Strike in Evanston Restaurant When Girls Walk Out. |

Example | (2) | is again constructed of two decks, each separated by a short horizontal rule. The first deck is a cross-line head in upper-case and displayed in a font slightly larger than that used in the example above. It reads | BURGLARS BUSY IN NEWTON |.

The second deck is a hanging indention head of three parts displayed as mixed case in a slightly smaller font. The three parts of the head say | Houses Ransacked by Gang Which Is | Thought to Have Had Rendezvous | In the Old Post Office. | Together the lines of the two decks says | BURGLARS BUSY IN NEWTON | Houses Ransacked by Gang Which Is Thought to Have Had Rendezvous In the Old Post Office. |

[Pg 279]

The image above contains two more examples of smaller heads. The first example is labelled | (3) | and is constructed of two decks separated by a short horizontal rule. The first deck is a cross-line head in upper-case and displayed in a small font about the size of capital letters in the column text that would follow. It says | AIRSHIP STANDS FINAL TEST |.

The second deck is a pyramid head of three parts. It is in mixed-case displayed in a smaller font than that used in the deck above. Its three parts say | Baldwin Machine Stays Aloft Two Hours | and is Accepted by Signal Corps as | the Most Proficient Of All. | Together the lines of the two decks says | AIRSHIP STANDS FINAL TEST | Baldwin Machine Stays Aloft Two Hours and is Accepted by Signal Corps as the Most Proficient Of All.”

The second example in the image is labelled | (4) | and again is constructed of two decks, each separated by a short horizontal rule. The first deck is a drop-line head in upper-case and displayed in a font about the same size as that used in the example above. Its two lines say | EMPLOYERS’ LIABILITY | UPHELD BY OHIO COURT |.

The second deck is a pyramid head of three parts. It is in mixed-case displayed in a smaller font than that used in the deck above it. The three lines of the head say | Act Providing for Benefits in Case of | Death or Injury Is Declared | to Be Constitutional. | Together the lines of the two decks says | EMPLOYERS’ LIABILITY UPHELD BY OHIO COURT | Act Providing for Benefits in Case of Death or Injury Is Declared to Be Constitutional. |

Practically every symmetrical arrangement of the four forms of heads can be found in various newspapers, but the principles underlying the writing of any of the combinations are the same.

Type Limits of Heads. The typographical limitations are the most important considerations governing the writing of headlines. These limitations are determined by the size of type and the form of each deck of the head. The possible variation in the parts of the first deck is not more than a letter or two from the normal form. So small is the variation possible within the column width that the size of the letters used has to be considered. Thus the letters “M” and “W” are one and one-half times the size of all the other letters except “I,” which is only one-half as large as the others. In the counting of unit letters in a headline, the writer must consider “M” and “W” as one and one-half units each, and the letter “I” and the figure “1” as half a unit each. Each space between words is counted as one unit. Since the form and symmetry of a head are[Pg 280] marred or entirely destroyed by having too few or too many units in any part, great skill is necessary in the choice and the arrangement of words to secure as nearly as possible the exact number of units required for a perfect head.

The effect produced by having too many units is shown in the following heads for which 18 units is the normal number in each half of the two-line drop head.

The image above contains two examples of heads with too many units on a line. The effect that creates is made worse because the spacing between words has been reduced in order to fit all the words to a line.

Example | (1) | is constructed of a single deck with a drop-line head of two parts, each line spanning the full width between column rules. The first line consists of 20 units and says | GOVERNOR NAMES FIRST |. The second line also consists of 20 units and says | OF MUNICIPAL REFORMS |. Together the two parts of the drop-line head says | GOVERNOR NAMES FIRST OF MUNICIPAL REFORMS |.

Example | (2) | is also constructed of a single deck with a drop-line head of two parts, each line spanning the full width between column rules. The first line consists of 21½ units and says | TWO FIRES IN ONE HOUSE |. The second line consists of 20 units and says | INSIDE OF THREE HOURS |. Together the two parts of the drop-line head says | TWO FIRES IN ONE HOUSE INSIDE OF THREE HOURS |.

When the number of units is less than that required for the best effect, the headline is not so unsatisfactory as when too many units are crowded into it, because the short line is more legible than the long one. In each of the following heads the first half contains only 15 units instead of 18, and as a result there is too much space at the end of each of these halves. Both, however, are much more easily read than the crowded ones given above.

The image above contains the example labelled | (1) |. It is constructed of a single deck with a drop-line head of two parts with slightly expanded inter-word spacing. Both parts are in upper-case text. The first line is of 15 units and says | STATE SECRETARY |. The second line is of 15½ units and says | ON TRIP TO COAST |. The whole drop-line head says | STATE SECRETARY ON TRIP TO COAST |.

[Pg 281]

The image above contains the example labelled | (2) |. It is also constructed of a single deck with a drop-line head of two parts with slightly expanded inter-word spacing. Both parts are in upper-case text. The first line is of 15 units and says | WEISS REASSURES |. The second line is of 14 units and says | BUSINESS WORLD |. The whole drop-line head says | WEISS REASSURES BUSINESS WORLD |.

That much better results are produced by having each half contain more nearly the required number of units is shown by comparing the next two heads with those preceding.

The image above contains two examples. The first one is labelled | (1) | and is again constructed of a drop-line head in two parts but now there is less space between the end of the first line and the right-hand column rule and before the start of the second line and the left-hand column rule. The first line is of 18 units and says | STORY OF DYING MAN |. The second line is also of 18 units and says | REOPENS GRAFT CASE |. The whole drop-line head says | STORY OF DYING MAN REOPENS GRAFT CASE |.

The second example is labelled | (2) |. It is also constructed of a drop-line head in two parts. Like the example above there is less space between the end of the first line and the right-hand column rule and before the start of the second line and the left-hand column rule. The first line is of 18½ units and says | MAY LOSE EXTRA PAY |. The second line is of 17½ units and says | FOR NIGHT CAR RUNS |. The whole drop-line head says | MAY LOSE EXTRA PAY FOR NIGHT CAR RUNS |.

In headline writing a number of points must be borne in mind. It should be remembered, however, that these are not hard and fast rules but general principles based on newspaper practice.

Why the Head is Based on the “Lead.” As in the normal type of news story all the important facts are given in the lead, the headline, as the bulletin of these facts, is based largely, if not entirely, on the material in the lead. One reason for giving all the essential details in the lead, as has already been pointed out, is that the story may be cut down before or after it is in type. This possibility that the story may be cut down is an additional reason why the headline should be based on the first part of the story, for if the headline[Pg 282] contains only the substance of the lead, it need not be rewritten when any part of the story is cut off.

The Tone of the Head. To adapt the character of the headline to the tone of the story is important for the best effect of both. The head should prepare the reader for what is to follow. A humorous or witty headline is well adapted for a story written in a light vein but usually is out of keeping with a plain news story. A suggestion of pathos even may be given in the headline when the story warrants it. Efforts to be funny or tearful, however, ought always to be carefully considered and should not be made unless the circumstances justify them.

Avoiding Repetition. It has come to be a generally recognized point that there should be a minimum amount of repetition of words throughout the head. The same word should not be used more than once either in the same deck or in different decks unless the lack of synonyms makes it absolutely necessary, or unless emphasis is gained by so doing. This, of course, applies in only a limited degree to the necessary connective words, such as conjunctions and prepositions, and parts of the verb “to be.” The writer of heads should have at his command a number of synonymous words and expressions, so that, when he must refer to the same person, object, or action a second or third time, he may be able to vary the expression.

The Interrelation of the Decks. If the grammatical subject remains the same in statements made in two or more decks, it need not be repeated, as it will be understood with the verbs in the following deck or decks. In the head given below, the subject of the verb “stricken” in the first deck, serves as the subject of the verbs “found” in the second deck, “is” in the third, and “will be taken” in the fourth.

[Pg 283]

The image above is a headline constructed of four decks of various forms which say | GUARD STRICKEN ON PRISON WALL | Found in His Sentry Box at the Penitentiary Helpless From Paralysis | IS A CIVIL WAR VETERAN | Will be Taken to His Meigs County Home Unless He Grows Worse. |

Since the subject, when suppressed in any deck, is understood to be the same as that in the deck just preceding, care must be taken to have the verb agree with it grammatically. There is a not unnatural tendency, for example, to use in one deck a singular verb with a collective noun like “common council,” or “faculty” (of a college), and then, changing the idea to the members of these bodies, to use in the next deck a plural verb with the subject suppressed. Thus, in the following head, “tariff board” should not be made the subject of “reports” and “declare.”

The image above is a head constructed of two decks. They say | TARIFF BOARD REPORTS ON ALL WOOL SCHEDULES | Declare That Many of the Rates are Too High.

[Pg 284]

Failure to remember that a verb without a subject is assumed to have the same subject as the statement in the deck immediately preceding, not that in any other of the preceding decks, also leads to confusion. The following head, for example, is poor because it is not clear that “president” is the subject of “gives,” since “governor” is the subject of the statement in the preceding deck; nor is it evident that “troops” of the first deck is the subject of “to camp” in the fourth.

The image above is a head constructed of four decks of various forms. They say | PRESIDENT ORDERS TROOPS TO REMAIN | Governor Undecided About Calling Special Legislative Session | GIVES TWELVE DAYS OF GRACE | To Camp Here Three Weeks While State Decides Its Course. |

The subject is sometimes incorrectly suppressed in one deck when there is no subject in the preceding deck that can be understood for that verb; for example, in the following head there is no word in the first deck that can be taken for the subject of “was” in the second.

The image above is a head constructed of two decks. They say | ARREST REVEALS DOUBLE LIFE | Was Both Traveling Man and Burglar at Same Time, Say Police. |

Often it is necessary to repeat in other decks with additional details or in more definite form the statement made in the first deck; for example:

[Pg 285]

The image above is a head constructed of two decks. They say | TO TIE UP WHOLE OHIO LINE | Shopmen on Strike Threaten to Prevent Running of All Trains. |

When such repetition is necessary for greater clearness, there is no objection to it, but to make several decks merely repetition in other words of the first is a not uncommon fault that should be avoided. If, for example, the foregoing head had been expanded into four decks by mere repetition, the result might have been the following head, in which but one fact is presented.

The image above is a head constructed of four decks. They say | TO TIE UP WHOLE OHIO LINE | Shopmen On Strike Threaten to Prevent Running of All Trains | TRAFFIC TO BE AT A STANDSTILL | Strikers Say That No Freight or Passenger Service Will Be Possible Over the Road Affected. |

Most newspapers prefer to have the statement in each deck grammatically independent of that in the preceding deck; that is, they avoid extending a statement through two decks. How such a continuous statement is sometimes made, however, is shown in the following head from the New York Sun:

The image above is constructed of two decks. The first deck is a cross-line head in upper case which says | MORSE SAYS IT WASN’T FAIR |. The second deck is a pyramid head in two parts. The first line begins with the preposition | TO |. The head says | TO PUT HIS STORY IN THE HANDS OF GOVERNMENT AGENTS |. The full headline says | MORSE SAYS IT WASN’T FAIR TO PUT HIS STORY IN THE HANDS OF GOVERNMENT AGENTS |.

One peculiar form of headline, some of the best examples of which are found in the Cincinnati Enquirer, depends for its effect upon this continuation of a statement[Pg 286] through several decks. Only one word is used for the first deck of large heads of this type, and only one or two in the first deck of smaller heads, as is seen in the following examples:

The image above is example | (1) | of this peculiar form of headline. It is a head with six decks. The first deck is cross-line form with the centered word | ENGINEERS | in a large, heavy-weighted, font.

The second deck is also cross-line but is mixed-case in a slightly smaller font of medium weight. It spans the full width of the column and says | Favor Lock Canal |.

The remaining four decks are all pyramid form in mixed-case and displayed in a font of similar size. They say | Work of Goethals Meets Praise of Experts, | Who, With Taft, Inspect the Panama Ditch, | And They Find Gatum Accident Was Trivial. | No Further Trouble With the Dam Is Anticipated—Plans of the President Elect. |

The complete headline reads | ENGINEERS Favor Lock Canal | Work of Goethals Meets Praise of Experts, Who, With Taft, Inspect the Panama Ditch, And They Find Gatum Accident Was Trivial. | No Further Trouble With the Dam Is Anticipated—Plans of the President Elect. |

It should be noted that the final pyramid deck is in four parts and is constructed so that the last line of the pyramid is the single word | Elect. | Visually, this means you have the first and last lines of this six-deck head centered between the column rules. All other lines between these are either centered or are the full width of the column so the overall appearance has a symmetry.

[Pg 287]

The image above is example | (2) | of a headline that depends for its effect upon the continuation of a statement through several decks. This one has just two decks. The first deck is cross-line form with the single, centered, upper-case word | PANCAKES | in a largish, thin, font.

The second deck is pyramid form in mixed-case and a smaller font and says | Wife Baked Tempted Soldier To Freedom, But Sirup To Put on Them Caused His Arrest. |

The full headlines says | PANCAKES Wife Baked Tempted Soldier To Freedom, But Sirup To Put on Them Caused His Arrest. |

Style in Heads. Rhyme and alliteration may be used to advantage on rare occasions, but generally this similarity of sound produces a jingling result that is not pleasing. Originality and novelty can be given by choice and combination of words much more effectively than by the artificial means of similar sounds.

To make headlines as concise as possible the articles “a,” “an,” and “the” are omitted, and auxiliary verbs not absolutely necessary are suppressed. When articles and auxiliaries are convenient to fill out the line to the required number of units, they may be retained, but should not be used at the beginning of a deck.

To give freshness and vividness to the head, the verb is usually put in the present tense even though the action is in the past; for example, “Roosevelt Speaks in Cleveland.” Future action is expressed by the infinitive or by the regular future form with “will”; for example, “Roosevelt to Speak in Cleveland,” or “Roosevelt Will Speak in Cleveland.”

The active voice of the verb is preferred to the passive because the active is more vivid and more concise. “Cornell Wins Intercollegiate Regatta,” is better than “Intercollegiate Regatta Won by Cornell.” When, however, the passive is required to give the more significant part of the statement prominence in the first[Pg 288] part of the top deck it should be used in preference to the active. In the following head the important point is that the post office has been robbed, rather than the fact that it was robbed by tramps.

The image above is a drop-line head of two parts that says | POST OFFICE ROBBED | BY BAND OF TRAMPS |.

This head would be less effective with the active verb, since the robbery of the post office would then go into the second part of the deck, thus:

The image above is a drop-line head of two parts that says | BAND OF TRAMPS ROB | POST OFFICE SAFE |.

News value rather than rules must determine in any case whether the active or passive voice is desirable.

The use of abbreviations, likewise, cannot be fixed by rule. In general, only commonly used abbreviations, like “Dr.,” “Prof.,” “Mrs.,” “Mr.,” “St.,” “Co.,” are to be found in headlines. In particular cases, however, others are employed because they are convenient and clear. In Boston, for example, “Tech” as an abbreviation for “Massachusetts Institute of Technology,” is common, and the Boston Herald, therefore, used it to advantage in the head:

The image above is of a single drop-line head that says | 200 TECH MEN SEE YULE LOG BLAZE |.

During a long campaign for “immediate municipal ownership” in Chicago, the newspapers of that city used almost daily the abbreviation “I.M.O.” So “L”[Pg 289] for “elevated railroad” is perfectly clear to readers in New York, Boston, and Chicago. The names of states are not usually abbreviated, although “U.S.” is frequent. Abbreviations like “auto,” “taxi,” and “phone” are so general that they are used without question in headlines.

Colloquial contractions like “can’t,” “we’re,” etc., although not common, may give the life and naturalness often well suited to a story, as for example in the following head:

The image above is a head constructed from two decks. The first is a cross-line head that says | ROCKEFELLER, HE’D HELP HER |. The second deck is a pyramid form that says | So Mary Mayogian, Who is 12, Came Here to See Him. |

In the first deck short words are preferred, because in rapid reading they are more easily grasped than long ones, and because two or three words in each part of the line make a better looking, more symmetrical head. To meet the need for short equivalents for long words that are generally accepted terms, new words have been coined and new functions given to old ones. For the long noun “investigation” and the verb “to investigate,” the words “probe” and “quiz” are favorites with the headline writer, and are often used to excess. Long words like “criticize,” “censure,” “rebuke” give way to shorter ones like “hit,” “rap,” and “score.” The concise but inelegant “nab” is a headline substitute for “arrest.” The verb “peril,” rarely used elsewhere, appears in heads as an equivalent for “imperil” or “endanger,” as in “Shipwreck Perils Many.” The verb “wed” is a convenient short form for “marry.” Words condemned by good usage, such as “to suicide” and “to kill self,” have found a place in the headlines of some newspapers because of their clearness and brevity.

[Pg 290]

Slang, likewise, on account of its conciseness, novelty, and colloquial character, is not infrequently found in heads, although some newspapers have a rule against its use. If the slang word or phrase is put in quotation marks, it is considered by some newspapers as less objectionable. All that may be said for or against slang in newspapers as a whole, applies with equal force to its use in heads. If the question of good taste is involved in the use of a slang word, the safe course is to avoid it.

Some newspapers have a rule that numerical figures should be put into headlines only when they are absolutely necessary, an injunction that implies a very limited use of them, whereas the general practice clearly is to employ figures when they are the most effective means of conveying the important facts. The advantage of figures is seen in the following heads taken from representative newspapers:

The image above has three examples of heads that contain numerical figures. Each example is a single deck with a drop-line head of two or three parts.

Example | (1) | says | TO SELL 81 PICTURES | VALUED AT $2,000,000 |.

Example | (2) | says | 5,000 WOMEN MARCH | IN SUFFRAGE PARADE |.

Example | (3) | is a drop-line head in three parts and says | 50-CENT BUTTER | SOON TO FOLLOW | MILK PRICE RISE |.

[Pg 291]

The image above is example | (4) | and is a pyramid head in three parts which says | 40 MORE GRAFTERS | TO BE ARRESTED | IN PITTSBURG |.

Figures for numbers under ten appear less frequently in headlines, particularly at the beginning of a deck, but again the practice in regard to this usage is not uniform. Newspapers, like the New York Evening Post, that have but one line in the top deck of their large headlines, not infrequently use figures below ten at the beginning or anywhere in the first deck. With the greater space of the drop-line head it is easier to avoid small figures.

The division of words in headlines so that one syllable is in one part of the deck and one in another part, is to be avoided. Similarly, hyphenated words, or two words constituting a name or term each word of which is not clear alone, should not be divided between parts of the top deck. The following four heads illustrate these undesirable divisions:

The image above has examples | (1) | and | (2) | of undesirable word divisions. Example | (1) | is a drop-line head in two parts. The first line of the head ends with the first syllable of a divided word. It says | TROOPS SOON TO EM- |. The second line says | BARK FOR PANAMA |. The full head should say | TROOPS SOON TO EMBARK FOR PANAMA |.

Example | (2) | is also a drop-line head in two parts. The first line ends with the hyphen that joins the hyphenated term | ALL-AMERICAN |. It says | CAMP PICKS ALL- |. The second line says | AMERICAN TEAM |. The full head should say | CAMP PICKS ALL-AMERICAN TEAM |.

[Pg 292]

The image above has examples | (3) | and | (4) | of undesirable divisions. The first of these is a drop-line head in two parts. It is intended to say | CUT IN SCHEDULE “K” IS PROBABLE | but the construction of the drop-line head places the word | SCHEDULE | on the first line and the label | “K” | on the second line thus creating an undesirable division.

Example | (4) | in the image is also a drop-line head in two parts. It is intended to say | CURLERS PLAN BON SPIEL IN MARCH | but the construction of the drop-line head places the word | BON | on the first line and | SPIEL | on the second line thus creating another undesirable division.

The use of unemphatic words, like “of,” “to,” “for,” “and,” “but,” “if,” “a,” “the,” at the end of parts of the top deck is not desirable, as in this position they are given prominence and emphasis out of all proportion to their importance. Typographical limitations and the exigencies of rapid headline writing, however, result not infrequently in their appearance in these positions. Whenever it is possible, they should be avoided at the end of parts of the top deck.

Punctuation. Punctuation in headlines and subheads follows the accepted rules. When marks are not absolutely necessary for clearness, they should be omitted. In the first deck, and in cross-line heads, independent sentences not connected by conjunctions are separated by semicolons; for example:

The image above is a drop-line head in three parts. The first two lines say | HATTERS GUILTY | OF BOYCOTTING; | and is terminated by a semicolon. The third line of the head says | FINED $222,000 |.

In other decks dashes are usually used to separate independent unconnected statements. Care should be taken to avoid a dash at the end of one of the parts of a deck. The use of the dash is shown in the following example:

[Pg 293]

The image above is a head with two decks separated by a short horizontal rule. The first deck is a cross-line head that reads | TAFT PREPARES FOR YALE POST |.

The second deck is a pyramid head in three parts. It says | President Leases Residence at New | Haven—Expects to Go There | in the Spring. | It demonstrates the careful use of a dash which appears in the middle of the second line of the pyramid. The dash serves to separate the unconnected statements | President Leases Residence at New Haven | and | Expects to Go There in the Spring. |

Headline punctuation in various forms is illustrated in the heads given below:

The image above contains six examples of headline punctuation in heads. They are all single decks and are labelled | (1) | to | (6) |.

Example (1) is a drop-line head in two parts. The first line ends with a question mark. The second line begins with the word “NO” in inverted commas. The head says GIVE UP WAR SPOILS? | “NO”, SHOUT CHINESE.

Example (2) is also a drop-line head in two parts. The first line says | “THEATRE ON FIRE!” | and ends with an exclamation mark. The whole line is enclosed in quotation marks. The second line says | CRY ON BROADWAY |.

Example (3) is a drop-line head in three parts. There is a comma following the word | BRIBE, | in | WHITE DEMANDED | BRIBE, DECLARES | BLANER ON STAND. It separates the statements | WHITE DEMANDED BRIBE | and | DECLARES BLANER ON STAND |.

Example (4) is a drop-line head in two parts. Its purpose is to quote a statement by a person named Wilson. The statement says | GIVE BAD POLITICS FRESH AIR |. That statement is enclosed in quotation marks and its author's name | WILSON | is appended to the statement by a dash. The two parts of the head as actually displayed say | “GIVE BAD POLITICS | FRESH AIR”—WILSON |.

Example (5) is a simple cross-line head that says | NED TODD, GAMBLER, DIES |. There are commas after | NED TODD, | and | GAMBLER, | in this head.

Example (6) is a drop-line head in two parts. It refers to a show that's to be performed called | “PINAFORE” |. That show name is in quotation marks. The two parts of the head as actually displayed say | WILL GIVE “PINAFORE” | WITH ALL-STAR CAST |. Displayed as a single line, the head says | WILL GIVE “PINAFORE” WITH ALL-STAR CAST |.

[Pg 294]

The image above contains three more examples of headline punctuation in heads. Each example is a single deck and they are labelled | (7) | to | (9) |.

Example (7) is a drop-line head in two parts. It is in the form of a warning, with the first line of the head ending in an exclamation mark. That line says | ALL CITIZENS, BEWARE! |. The second line says what to beware of. It is, apparently, | “HOLD-UP” MEN |. The hyphenated word | “HOLD-UP” | is enclosed in quotation marks. The two parts of the head as actually displayed say | ALL CITIZENS, BEWARE! | “HOLD-UP” MEN ARE OUT |.

Example (8) is a drop-line head in three parts. The first line is a statement that ends in a semicolon. It says | TRUST WEAKENS; |. That line is followed by another statement split over two more lines and says | DEALERS PROMISE | 8-CENT MILK SOON |. Displayed as a single line, the head says | TRUST WEAKENS; | DEALERS PROMISE 8-CENT MILK SOON |.

Example (9) is also a drop-line head in three parts. The first line quotes a source who says | “DON’T BUTT IN” |. As it is a quotation, it is correctly enclosed in quotation marks. The other two lines of the head state who that quote is directed at. Those lines says | MEXICO IS TOLD | IN POLITE WAY |. Displayed as a single line, the head says | “DON’T BUTT IN” MEXICO IS TOLD IN POLITE WAY

Methods of Building Headlines. The editor or copy-reader who is constantly writing heads comes to think unconsciously in headline units; that is, his daily practice makes it possible for him to frame readily statements of the essential facts that will fulfill the requirements of each deck of the head. Nevertheless, he always counts the units to be sure that the number is correct. For the beginner the process of building up the several decks of a typical headline is analyzed at some length in the following pages, in order to demonstrate the methods pursued.

The story selected for showing the process of headline writing has been taken from the Chicago Record-Herald, which gave it a headline constructed on the following plan:

[Pg 295]

The image above is of a headline constructed of four decks, each separated by a short horizontal rule. The font size and weight differs between decks and to the left of each line in a head is the number of headline units that line contains.

The first deck is a drop-line head in two parts and displayed in a large, weighted, font. Each of the two lines contains 18 unit letters and say | FOREST RESERVE ACT | IS DECLARED INVALID |.

The second deck is in a smaller, mixed-case, font of lighter weight. It is a pyramid head in three parts that contains 10 words. Each part contains, respectively, 30, 25 and 15 unit letters. The parts say | State Supreme Court’s Decision | Puts Tax Assessing Depart- | ment In Dilemma. | Displayed as a single line without the division of words, the head says | State Supreme Court’s Decision Puts Tax Assessing Department In Dilemma. |

The third deck is a cross-line head in upper-case displayed in a font of medium weight and smaller than that used in the first deck. It contains 23 unit letters and says | MAY ENJOIN THE OFFICIALS |.

The fourth deck is similar to the second deck being a pyramid in three parts and displayed in the same font. It also contains 10 words. Each part of the head contains, respectively, 30, 25 and 15 unit letters. The parts say | State’s Attorney Wayne Threat- | ens Action if Attempt is Made | to Collect Levy. | Displayed as a single line without the division of words, the head says | State’s Attorney Wayne Threatens Action if Attempt is Made to Collect Levy. |

The story for which the headline is to be written follows:

The city council finance committee last night unanimously agreed to a proposition made by Mayor Harrison to have a committee of experts decide each year how much money shall be spent in each ward for street cleaning and garbage and refuse collection.

The mayor said the plan could not be adopted this year, as the committee was engaged in making up the budget for 1912 and there would not be time.

The suggestion of the mayor came during the annual “squabble” of the committee over the ward appropriations. As usual every member was contending for an increase.

“I’ll tell you, gentlemen,” suddenly broke in Mayor Harrison, “this helter skelter method of making up ward appropriations should be discontinued. It is a system that is out of date and one that works an injustice on many sections of the city. I would suggest that we have a commission or a committee of experts begin next year, about three months before the committee begins making up the budget, and work out a scientific plan for the proper distribution of the street cleaning and garbage removal funds.”

[Pg 296]

“I’m with you there,” declared Aldermen Cermak and Egan in unison, and every alderman around the table enthusiastically endorsed the proposition.

The work of making the ward appropriations was continued after the mayor’s suggestions and raises were granted along the line.

In editing this story of the meeting of the city council finance committee, the copy-reader would get these four main points:

(1) Mayor Harrison’s proposal to the finance committee in regard to the allotment of ward funds was approved.

(2) His plan is to have experts decide the division on a scientific basis.

(3) The new method cannot be put into operation until next year on account of lack of time.

(4) The fight, or “squabble,” among the aldermen on this matter has been an annual one.

As the subject of the story is the “ward funds,” the headline may be constructed around these words. The words “ward fund” contain 9½ units, and the plural “ward funds,” 10½ units, which, on the basis of 18 units to be filled in each half of the first deck, will leave 7½ or 8½ units to be filled, according as the singular or plural form of “fund” is used. If a verb is desired for the first half deck, the “dividing” or “allotting” of the fund expresses the idea involved; and, since the action is in the future, “to divide” or “to allot” (8 units each), or “will divide” or “will allot” (10 units each), are possibilities. The combination of these elements gives “To Allot Ward Fund” (18½ units) and “To Divide Ward Fund” (18½ units), either of which may be used for the first half of the top deck. This deck may be completed in the second half by introducing the second point; namely, that the allotment[Pg 297] is to be made “On a Scientific Basis” (19 units), which can be reduced to 17 units by omitting the article “a.” The result will then be as follows:

The image above is the resulting drop-line head. It is in two parts. The first line is 18½ unit letters and says | TO DIVIDE WARD FUND |. The second line is 17 unit letters and says | ON SCIENTIFIC BASIS |. Displayed as a single line the head says | TO DIVIDE WARD FUND ON SCIENTIFIC BASIS |.

Or the second point may be used in the form of the allotment’s being made “with the aid of experts” (22½ units), which may be reduced to 18½ units by omitting the article “the.” The resulting combination will be:

The image above is a another drop-line head in two parts. The first line is 18½ unit letters and says | TO ALLOT WARD FUND |. The second line is also 18½ unit letters and says | WITH AID OF EXPERTS |. Displayed as a single line the head says | TO ALLOT WARD FUND WITH AID OF EXPERTS |.

If it is desired to emphasize the fact that the mayor has solved the ward fund problem, or has ended the “grab,” or settled the “squabble,” or dispute, or fight, these phrases may be arranged in the following forms:

Two of four examples are displayed on this page. Example | (1) | is a drop-line head in two parts. The first line is 18 units and says | WARD FUND PROBLEM |. The second line is also 18 units and says | IS SOLVED BY MAYOR |. Displayed as a single line the head says | WARD FUND PROBLEM IS SOLVED BY MAYOR |.

Example | (2) | is an alternative wording but emphasises those same facts. The first line is 18½ units and says | WARD FUND SQUABBLE |. The second line is 19 units and says | IS SETTLED BY MAYOR |. Displayed as a single line the head says | WARD FUND SQUABBLE IS SETTLED BY MAYOR |.

[Pg 298]

This image is at the top of the following page and contains two more examples showing how phrases may be arranged in a head to emphasize facts of a story.

Example | (3) | is a drop-line head in two parts. The first line is 19 units and says | FIGHT FOR WARD FUND |. The second line is 17 units and says | IS ENDED BY MAYOR |. Displayed as a single line the head says | FIGHT FOR WARD FUND IS ENDED BY MAYOR |.

Example | (4) | is an alternative wording but emphasises those same facts. The first line is 18½ units and says | GRAB FOR WARD FUND |. The second line is 19 units and says | IS STOPPED BY MAYOR |. Displayed as a single line the head says | GRAB FOR WARD FUND IS STOPPED BY MAYOR |.

Still greater prominence can be given to the mayor by putting the word at the beginning of the first half of the first deck, but by so doing the real subject, that is, the ward fund division or wrangle, must go over into the second half. In this arrangement the forms would be:

The image above has three examples. Example | (1) | is a drop-line head in two parts. The first line is 17 units and says | MAYOR HAS SETTLED |. The second line is 18 units and says | WARD FUND WRANGLE |. Displayed as a single line the head says | MAYOR HAS SETTLED WARD FUND WRANGLE |.

Example | (2) | is also a drop-line head in two parts. The first line is 17½ units and says | MAYOR PUTS AN END |. The second line is 18½ units and says | TO WARD FUND SCRAP |. Displayed as a single line the head says | MAYOR PUTS AN END TO WARD FUND SCRAP |.

Example | (3) | is another drop-line head in two parts. The first line is 19 units and says | MAYOR’S PLAN SOLVES |. The second line is 18 units and says | WARD FUND PROBLEM |. Displayed as a single line the head says | MAYOR’S PLAN SOLVES WARD FUND PROBLEM |.

If more emphasis is desired for the point that experts are to settle or decide the ward fund division or fight, these statements may be combined as follows, but[Pg 299] again the real subject, by going into the second half of the deck, is less conspicuous:

The image above has two examples. Example | (1) | is a drop-line head in two parts. The first line is 18½ units and says | EXPERTS WILL DECIDE |. The second line is 17 units and says | WARD FUND DIVISION |. Displayed as a single line the head says | EXPERTS WILL DECIDE WARD FUND DIVISION |.

Example | (2) | is also a drop-line head in two parts. The first line is 19 units and says | EXPERTS WILL SETTLE |. The second line is 19 units and says | FIGHT FOR WARD FUND |. Displayed as a single line the head says | EXPERTS WILL SETTLE FIGHT FOR WARD FUND |.

These various forms for the top deck show some of the possibilities of variety of emphasis and tone in the headline. As the first half of the top deck is more conspicuous than the second, the most significant part of the statement should, if possible, be placed in the first half. Consequently those forms in which the idea of the allotting or dividing of the ward funds is placed first, would generally be preferred. The words “squabble,” “scrap,” and “grab,” although colloquial and inelegant, might be admissible to characterize effectively the situation growing out of the efforts of each alderman to get the most for his own ward, if the circumstances of the dispute were undignified.

The other decks of the headline for this story may be constructed to follow any one of these top decks, but, for convenience, only two of the top decks will be used for illustration. If the one chosen is “To Divide Ward Fund On Scientific Basis,” it may be developed by the other points already given (page 296); that is, (1) The mayor’s proposal was approved by the finance committee; (2) The division is to be made[Pg 300] by experts; (3) The method cannot be put into operation until next year for lack of time; and (4) the fight on the matter has been an annual one. The second deck of ten words should explain the “scientific basis” of division and give the action of the finance committee by which this plan was determined upon, both of which points may be stated in the following forms:

The image above has two examples. Example | (1) | is a pyramid head in three parts. It contains 11 words of which | Committee | is divided over two lines. The three parts are respectively 27, 27 and 17½ unit letters long and say | City Council Finance Commit- |, | tee Will Let Experts Settle |, | Problem Next Year. | Displayed as a single line the head says | City Council Finance Committee Will Let Experts Settle Problem Next Year. |

Example | (2) | is also a pyramid head in three parts. It states the same facts as the example above but phrases them in a different way. It is 12 words long and avoids dividing the word | Committee |. The three parts are respectively 30, 25 and 17 unit letters long and say | Plan to Let Experts Fix Amount |, | Given Approval by Council |, Finance Committee. | Displayed as a single line the head says | Plan to Let Experts Fix Amount Given Approval by Council Finance Committee. |

The third deck, which, because of the size of type, is next in prominence to the top deck, should contain the mayor’s part in the solution, and within the limits of 23 unit letters, this may be expressed in the following forms:

The image above has five examples of cross-line heads that state the mayor's role in the solution with each using different wording. Example | (1) | is 23 units and says | PROPOSAL MADE BY MAYOR |. Example | (2) | is also 23 units and says | MAYOR PROPOSES SOLUTION |. Example | (3) | is 24 units and says | PLAN IS OFFERED BY MAYOR |. Example | (4) | is 23½ units and says | MAYOR ENDS THE SQUABBLE |. Example | (5) | is also 23½ units and says | MAYOR PROPOSES THE PLAN |.

[Pg 301]

If the third or fifth forms are used, they should not be combined with the second form, “Plan To Let Experts, etc.,” suggested for the second deck, because of the repetition of the word “plan.”

For the fourth deck the idea that the dispute is an annual one, and, if not already used, the point that the plan is going into effect next year, may both be expressed within the limits, which are the same as those for the second deck, as follows:

The image above has two examples. Example | (1) | is a pyramid head in three parts which contains 12 words. The three parts are respectively 27, 24 and 18 units long and say | New Method Will End Annual |, | Dispute of Aldermen Over |, | Allotment of Money. | Displayed as a single line the head says | New Method Will End Annual Dispute of Aldermen Over Allotment of Money. |

Example | (2) | is also a pyramid head in three parts. This one contains 11 words. It again communicates the idea that the dispute is an annual one and that the plan is going into effect next year. The three parts are respectively 27, 26 and 14 units long and say | Annual Squabble of Aldermen |, | Over Street Cleaning Money |, | Ends Next Year. | Displayed as a single line the head says | Annual Squabble of Aldermen Over Street Cleaning Money Ends Next Year. |

In complete form with one of each of these possibilities chosen to avoid repetition, the head will read:

The image above displays the complete head which is made up of four decks.

The first deck is a drop-line head in large, bold, capital letters and says | TO DIVIDE WARD FUND |, | ON SCIENTIFIC BASIS |. It is followed by a pyramid head in mixed case and a smaller, lighter, font which says | City Council Finance Commit- |, | tee Will Let Experts Settle |, | Problem Next Year. |

The third deck is a cross-line head and says | MAYOR PROPOSES THE PLAN |. The fourth and final deck is a pyramid head like the second deck and says | New Method Will End Annual |, | Dispute of Aldermen Over |, | Allotment of Money. |

Displayed as a single line the head says | TO DIVIDE WARD FUND ON SCIENTIFIC BASIS | City Council Finance Committee Will Let Experts Settle Problem Next Year. MAYOR PROPOSES THE PLAN | New Method Will End Annual Dispute of Aldermen Over Allotment of Money. |

[Pg 302]

If the first deck chosen is one of the forms in which the part played by the mayor in the solution of the problem is emphasized, the other three decks could be so composed as to include the other points, without repetition, as follows:

The image above displays this alternate emphasis of the facts. The first deck is a drop-line head in large, bold, capital letters and says | WARD FUND PROBLEM |, | IS SOLVED BY MAYOR |. It is followed by a pyramid head in mixed case and a smaller, lighter, font which says | Plan to Let Experts Fix Amount |, | Given Approval by Council |, | Finance Committee. |

The third deck is a cross-line head and says | TO TAKE EFFECT NEXT YEAR |. The fourth and final deck is a pyramid head like the second deck and says | Allotment on Scientific Basis |, | to Replace Annual Squabble |, | of the Aldermen. |

Displayed as a single line the head says | WARD FUND PROBLEM IS SOLVED BY MAYOR | Plan to Let Experts Fix Amount Given Approval by Council Finance Committee. | TO TAKE EFFECT NEXT YEAR Allotment on Scientific Basis to Replace Annual Squabble of the Aldermen. |

Subheads. Besides writing headlines for stories, the copy-reader inserts subheads at intervals to break up the solid masses of type which are unrelieved except by paragraph division. These subheads make possible more rapid reading.

The subhead, which is set up either in bold face capitals or in bold face capitals and lower case, is like a cross-line head that does not fill the entire column width. The subhead should be an announcement in three or four words of the most significant point in the section of the story which it precedes. The same limitation as to the number of units exists as in any cross-line head. In a story of some length subheads are placed at intervals of about 200 words, and in shorter[Pg 303] stories at intervals of from 100 to 150 words. The insertion of these subheads at comparatively regular intervals makes for symmetry of effect. Significant matter in the story, or an important change of topic, warrants a subhead, regardless of the regularity of the interval. It is generally considered preferable not to place a subhead immediately after a sentence ending with a colon and introducing a quotation, because the subhead interrupts the quotation and appears to be part of it. This difficulty can usually be avoided by placing the subhead just before the introductory sentence, thus:

NEW YORK, Dec. 14.—On the eve of his retirement from the post of British ambassador at Washington, which he has occupied with distinction for six years, James Bryce Saturday night paid an extraordinary tribute to the constitution of the United States. The occasion was the annual dinner of the Pennsylvania society of New York, and he spoke from the topic: “The Commemoration of the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Framing of the Constitution of the United States.”

Work of Men of Genius.

The ambassador said in part:

“The constitution was the work of an extraordinary group of men such as has seldom been seen living at the same time in any country and such as had never been brought together in any other country to undertake the immensely difficult task of framing a fundamental instrument of government for a nation. The nation was then a small one, and it is one of the most striking tributes to the genius and foresight of the men that the frame of government which they designed for 37,000,000 people should have proved fitting to serve the needs of 93,000,000.”

[Pg 304]

Jump-Heads. When a story is continued from one page to another, a head called a jump-head, or “run-over” head, is placed above the continuation. This jump-head may be either the top deck of the head at the beginning set in the same type or in smaller type, or it may be a new head. Examples of jump-heads follow:

Two examples are provided. Each example is in two sections. The first section displays the head of a story from the first page and the second section displays the jump-head that is placed above the continuation of the story on another page.

The image above displays section | (1) | of the first example. It is the | First Page Head | of a story and is a conventional looking head made up of four decks of various forms. The decks say | FLAMES END LIVES OF TWO BABY BOYS |, | Children in Different Parts of City Meet Horrible Death at the Same Time. |, | BONFIRE IS FATAL TO ONE |, | The Other, Left With Sister, Is Found Blazing in Home by Passersby. |

The image above displays section | (2) | of the first example. It is the | Jump-Head on Third Page | which is placed above the continuation of the story. It is a simple cross-line form in upper-case which says | FIRE ENDS BABIES’ LIVES |. Just below this in a small font are the words | Continued from Page One. |

The image above displays section | (1) | of the second example. It is the | Top Deck of First Page Head | of a story and is a drop-line form in three parts which says | EXPRESS BEATEN | BY PARCELS POST | IN INITIAL TEST |.

[Pg 305]

The image above displays section | (2) | of the second example. It is the | Jump-Head on Fourth Page | which is placed above the continuation of the story. This time it is a drop-line head in two parts which says | EXPRESS BEATEN | BY PARCELS POST |. Just below this in a small font are the words | (Continued from first page.) |

Big Heads. In this discussion only one column heads have been considered, but the same general principles apply to the construction of headlines extending over any number of columns. Important news may be given a head of one, two, or three parts extending across the whole front page. Such a head is often called a “banner.”


  1. Get the important facts of the story clearly and accurately in mind before writing the head.
  2. Study carefully each kind of headline to find out its possibilities and limitations.
  3. Give the story a headline proportionate in size to its importance.
  4. Base the head as far as possible on the facts in the lead.
  5. Have the tone of the head in keeping with that of the story.
  6. Don’t make the head a comment on the news.
  7. Avoid trite, hackneyed words or phrases.
  8. Make the statement in each deck clear, concise, and specific.
  9. Put the most significant fact into the first deck.
  10. Use short, specific words in the first deck.
  11. Count the unit letters and spaces in every deck.
  12. Don’t try to crowd in more units than the space will permit.[Pg 306]
  13. Don’t fill out a short line with weak words.
  14. Make clear the relation of the statement of each deck to that in the preceding deck.
  15. Use only such abbreviations as are commonly to be found in heads.
  16. Omit articles and unnecessary auxiliary verbs whenever it is possible.
  17. Punctuate only when clearness requires it.
  18. Use figures when they are the significant facts.
  19. Avoid repetition of words other than connectives.
  20. Use the present tense of the verb for past events and the infinitive or future tense for coming ones.
  21. Keep the tenses uniform throughout the head.
  22. Avoid libelous statements.


Criticize the following heads and rewrite each, retaining as far as possible the ideas and point of view of the original:

The image above is example (1) of sixteen examples of heads to be criticized. In this example, as in all the examples that follow, the top deck is a drop-line head. In that context it is worth recalling from page 280 that each line of a drop-line head should ideally be 18 unit letters wide.

In this example, the drop-line head in the top deck is in two parts of 17½ and 16½ unit letters respectively. It says | HURT IN AUTO CRASH | QUITTING HOSPITAL |. The second deck is a pyramid in three parts and says | Woman Patient Is Injured in | Collision Fifteen Minutes | After Release |

[Pg 307]

The image above is example (2). It is a head of three decks. The top deck is a drop-line head of two parts with 17 and 16 unit letters respectively. It says | PARCELS POST PLAN | STARTS TOMORROW |. The second deck is a head in pyramid form which says | New System Makes It Possible | to Mail Packages Weighing | Up to 11 Pounds. | The third decks is a cross-line head which says | REQUIRE SPECIAL STAMPS |

The image above is example (3). It is a head of two decks and is followed by the first paragraph of the story it heads. The top deck is a drop-line head of two parts with 15½ and 15 unit letters respectively. It says | RIVERS IN GOTHAM | FOR CROSS SETTO |. The second deck is a four-part hanging indention head which says | Little Mexican, in Great Condi- | tion, Announces That He Will | Surely Put the Quietus on the | Hard Hitting Dentist. |

The opening paragraph of the story follows the head. It says | NEW YORK, Dec. 28.—Joe Rivers, the Mexican lightweight, accompanied by his manager, Joe Levy, his brother, Andy Rivers, and his trainer, Abdul the Turk, arrived in this city Friday night. Rivers is scheduled to fight Leach Cross, at the Empire A. C. on Jan. 14, instead of Jan. 8. |

[Pg 308]

The image above is example (4). It is a head of three decks and is followed by the opening paragraphs of the story it heads. The top deck is a drop-line head of two parts with 13½ and 13½ unit letters respectively. It says | TAXES MUST BE | PAID BY JAN. 31 |. Note the second line of the head uses | JAN. 31 | as a shortened form of | JANUARY THIRTY FIRST |

The second deck is a four-part hanging indention head in a small font which says | Public Can Get Extensions on City | Assessments, However, by Applying | Under a Special Law Passed by | the 1911 Legislature. |

The third deck is a drop-line head in two parts which say | COLLECTION TO BEGIN | AT 9 A. M., TOMORROW |

The opening paragraphs of the story follow the head. They say | The collection of city taxes will be started at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning by City Treasurer John R. Greene. | “All county and state taxes must be paid by Jan. 31,” said City Treasurer Greene yesterday. “But an extension of six months on city taxes will be granted to those applying, under a law passed by the 1911 legislature.” |

The image above is example (5). It is a head of two decks and is followed by the first paragraph of the story it heads. The top deck is a drop-line head of two parts with 15 and 14 unit letters respectively. It says | GOTHAM WORKERS | PLANNING STRIKE |

The second deck is a pyramid of three parts which say | Demanding the Abolishment of | Sweat Shop and General | Increase in Wages. |

The opening paragraph of the story says | NEW YORK. Dec. 22.—The largest of a series of general strikes of 200,000 garment workers in this city will probably start this week following the counting of a secret ballot of 125,000 workers who have just completed the vote. The abolition of sweatshop conditions in the trade and a general increase in wages are demanded. |

[Pg 309]

The image above is example (6). It is a head of two decks and is followed by the first paragraph of the story it heads. The top deck is a drop-line head of two parts with 16½ and 16 unit letters respectively. It says | HIGH PRICES SAWED | BY PARCELS POST? |. It is posed as a question with the second line of the head ending in a question mark.

The second deck is a pyramid of three parts which say | Senator Jonathan Bourne Thinks | New System Will Solve Cost of | Living Problem. |

The opening paragraph of the story says | WASHINGTON, D. C., Dec. 21.—If the parcels post is utilized to its fullest degree, a decided decrease in the cost of living will result, according to the prediction on Saturday of Senator Jonathan Bourne of Oregon, father of the measure which becomes effective on Jan. 1. |

The image above is example (7). It is a head of three decks and is followed by the opening paragraphs of the story it heads. The top deck is a drop-line head of two parts with 16½ and 16½ unit letters respectively. It says | THINK PARLAPIANO’S | ACT IS JUSTIFIABLE |

The second deck is a pyramid of three parts which say | Court and District Attorney Tes- | tify Belief That Prisoner Was | Victim of Circumstances. | The word | Testify | in the head is divided over two lines.

The third deck is a cross-line head which says | BOUND OVER TO NEXT TERM |

Part of the opening paragraph of the story follows. The remainder of that paragraph plus the second paragraph are contained in an image at the top of the next page. The part displayed here says | Although the district attorney and judge of the District court testified their belief, supplementary to the arguments of the counsel for the defense, in the justifiableness of the crime, it was found necessary to bind over Vito Parlapiano, alleged murderer of Michael Perricone, |

[Pg 310]

The image above is the continuation of paragraph text from the previous page. It says | to the next term of the Municipal court, in District court Friday afternoon. | The sight of a district attorney who had caused a man’s arrest pleading for his release on the grounds of justification, and of the judge of a court expressing his opinion of the man’s innocence, has rarely been seen, but all this was done after convincing testimony had been introduced to prove that the killing was done in self-defense and through excessive fear of death on the defendant’s part. |

The image above is example (8). It is a head of two decks and is followed by the opening paragraphs of the story it heads. The top deck is a drop-line head in a smaller font than usual. It is in two parts with 27½ and 28 unit letters respectively. Both lines use the full width of the column but the letters look crowded thus making it difficult to see where one word ends and the next starts. This head says | POPE’S BROTHER, 76 YEARS OLD, | AT 50 CENTS WAGE, GETS BOOST. |

The second deck is a three-part hanging indention head which says | Aged Postmaster’s Pay Doubled—Walks | Ten Miles a Day Carrying Mails to | Rail Station. |

The opening paragraphs of the story follow. They say | ROME, Dec. 9.—The pope’s brother, Angelo Sarto, who is postmaster of the village of Corazio, called at the parliament buildings today and asked Deputy Di Bagno to recommend him to the minister of posts and telegraphs for an increase in salary. | The pontiff’s brother is 76 years old and earns a half dollar daily. He is compelled to walk ten miles every day in order to carry the mails of his village to the Nantua station. | Later in the day the minister cordially received Sarto and after talking with him for a while willingly doubled his pay, and, what is more, appointed a postman to help him. |

The image above is example (9). It is a head of two decks with no following paragraph text. The top deck is a drop-line head in two parts with 19½ and 18½ unit letters respectively. It says | SEEK CAUSE OF WRECK | KILLING 4, HURTING 50 |

The second deck is a pyramid of three parts and says | Nation, State and Railway Inves- | tigate Ditching of Express | Train on Pennsylvania. | The word | Investigate | is split between two lines of the head.

[Pg 311]

The image above is example (10). It is a single-deck head and is followed by the opening paragraph of the story it heads. The deck is a drop-line form in two parts with 16 and 17 unit letters respectively. It says | WOMEN SELL EGGS | TO CUT LIVING COST |

The opening paragraph of the story follows. It says | PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 11.—One hundred and fifty thousand dozen of eggs, at 24 cents a dozen, were sold to-day from a score or more stations scattered throughout the city, a record which will probably be doubled to-morrow. This is the result of the first endeavor of the new Housekeepers’ League of Philadelphia in its campaign against the present high cost of living. |

The image above is example (11). It is a head of four decks and is followed by the opening paragraphs of the story it heads. The top deck is a drop-line head of two parts with 14½ and 14½ unit letters respectively. It says | CROP PRODUCTION | ON THE INCREASE |

The second deck is a pyramid of three parts which say | Special Government Report Gives | Definite Information on the | Greatest Corn Crop. |

The third deck is a cross-line head which says | OTHER REPORTS LATER |

The fourth deck, like the second, is a pyramid of three parts which say | Report Gives Potatoes an In- | crease of Almost Double | Over Last Year. | The word | Increase | in the head is split over two lines.

Part of the opening paragraph of the story follows. The remainder of that paragraph plus the second paragraph are contained in an image at the top of the next page. The part displayed here says | WASHINGTON, D. C., Nov. 8.—A corn crop of 3,169,137,000 bu., or 281,921,000 bu. more than the greatest crop of corn ever grown in any country of the world is the feature of the country’s most remarkable agricultural year in history according to the November crop report of the United States department of agriculture |

[Pg 312]

The image above is the continuation of paragraph text from the previous page. It says | issued on Friday. The report completed the government’s preliminary estimates of the nation’s principal farm crops. This great crop of corn was worth on Nov. 1 to the farmers $1,850,776,000. | The enormous sum of $4,171,134,000 represented the farm value on Nov. 1 of the United States crops of corn, hay, wheat, oats, potatoes, barley, flaxseed, rye and buckwheat. With the value of the growing cotton crop, and the crops of tobacco, rice and apples, the aggregate value of these principal farm products will amount well beyond $5,000,000,000. |

The image above is example (12). It is a head of three decks with no following paragraph text. The top deck is a drop-line head in two parts with 14½ and 16 unit letters respectively. It says | IN PRISON GLOOM | AWAIT THEIR DOOM |

The second deck is a pyramid of three parts which say | Thirty-eight Convicted Labor | Officials Will Learn Their | Fate Wednesday. |

The third deck is a cross-line head which says | WILL APPEAL EACH CASE |

The image above is example (13). It is a head of two decks with no following paragraph text. The top deck is a drop-line head in two parts with 17 and 18 unit letters respectively. It says | STATE SOLONS PLAN | MANY NEW STATUTES |

The second deck is a pyramid of three parts which say | Water Power, Public Service and | Income Tax Questions Will | Receive Attention. |

[Pg 313]

The image above is example (14). It is a head of two decks and is followed by the opening paragraphs of the story it heads. The top deck is a drop-line head of two parts with 17½ and 17 unit letters respectively. It says | WAR FORTUNE SAVES | KING PETER’S ROBES |

The second deck is a pyramid of three parts which say | Open Secret That Servian Ruler | Was About to Abdicate | His Throne. |

The opening paragraphs of the story follow. They say | BELGRADE, Dec. 28.—(Special Cable).—While all the Balkan royal houses have strengthened their hold upon their respective peoples by reason of the Turko-Balkan war, it has been the very salvation of the royal house of Karageorgevitch. | It is an open secret here that King Peter was making preparations to resign until it became certain that war was inevitable. |

The image above is example (15). It is a head of four decks and is followed by the opening paragraphs of the story it heads. The top deck is a drop-line head of two parts with 16½ and 19 unit letters respectively. It says | WHITNEY HOME SOLD | FOR FIFTH AVE. TRADE |

The second deck is a pyramid of three parts which say | Fine House at Fifty-Seventh | Street May Be Remodeled or | Torn Down for Business Block. |

The third deck is a cross-line head which says | WAS HELD AT $2,250,000 |

The fourth deck, like the second, is a pyramid of three parts which say | Price Was Under That—New Owner’s | Name Not Revealed, But Broker | Says He Is an Investor. |

Part of the opening paragraph of the story follows. The remainder of that paragraph is contained in an image at the top of the next page. The part displayed here says | The career of the famous Whitney mansion on the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-seventh Street as a |

[Pg 314]

The image above is the continuation of the opening paragraph from the previous page. It says | city residence is over. The house was sold yesterday by Harry Payne Whitney, and it was announced that the new owner would utilize the corner for business. The entire property, according to Worthington Whitehouse, who represented Mr. Whitney in the sale, was held at $2,250,000, but it is understood that the price paid was under that figure. Frank D. Veiller, who represented the buyer, declined to give the name, only saying that he was an investor. |

The image above is example (16). It is the last one in this set of practice examples. It is a head constructed of a single deck which is a drop-line form in three parts. It is displayed in a thin font. The parts are 14, 14 and 14½ unit letters respectively and say | THUGS ARE BOLD | HOLD UP WOMAN | AS CROWD GAPES |

[Pg 315]



How Proof is Corrected. After copy has been set up in type, the type is put into a long, narrow metal tray called a “galley.” On a small hand or power press a printed sheet of each galley is made, or “pulled,” called a “proof,” or “galley proof.” To “pull a galley proof” is to make a printed copy of the type in the tray.

Each “proof” is carefully compared with the copy so that errors made by compositors or operators in setting up the copy in type may be discovered and corrected. On large newspapers the proof is corrected by proof-readers employed for the purpose, and the proof-reading room is connected with the composing room. Each proof-reader is assisted by a copy-holder who reads in a monotone everything in the copy including punctuation, capitalization, and paragraphing, so that the proof-reader may see whether or not the printed form corresponds exactly to the copy. In smaller offices editors and reporters read proof, comparing the printed form with the copy only when it is necessary. Every one who writes for publication should know how to correct proof, so that he may be able to do this work quickly and accurately when occasion demands it.

By the use of a few marks and signs it is easy to indicate clearly just how proof is to be changed and corrected. The least possible change should be made because every correction means a loss of time. When[Pg 316] linotypes are used, every change makes necessary the recasting of one whole line at least, while when monotypes are used, each piece of type must be handled separately. Accordingly, when one or more words have been inadvertently omitted and must be inserted, effort is made to cut out other words of about the same length and not absolutely necessary in the same line, in the preceding line, or in the following one, so that not more than one or two lines will have to be recast or reset to make room for the added words. Likewise, when one or more words must be taken out, others should be inserted in the same line or adjoining lines to fill up the space.

As in the editing of copy, so in the correcting of proof, the changes should be indicated in a manner that makes unmistakable to the compositor the exact character of the modifications. Confused correction of proof, like poor editing of copy, causes loss of time and increases the probability of error.

Errors in proof are most readily detected if a card is used to cover all lines except the one that is being corrected. The card is moved down from line to line as each is read and corrected. By having but one line before him at a time and by scrutinizing sharply every word, the reader more readily catches any errors.

Marks used in Correcting Proof. The proof-reading signs and marks, grouped according to their use, are as follows:

The image above shows three | Paragraphing | marks. The descriptions say | Begin a new paragraph. | Don’t begin a new paragraph. | Make one element follow the other in the same line. |

[Pg 317]

The image above shows seven | Spacing | marks. The descriptions say | Correct uneven spacing between words. | Put in space. | Reduce the space. | Close up by taking out all the spacing. | Close up but leave some space. | Push down a space that prints. | Put in thin spaces between letters, i.e., “letter space.” |

The image above shows nine | Position | marks. The descriptions say | Move to the left. | Move to the right. | Move up. | Move down. | Indent one em. | Make lines parallel. | Make letter align. | Turn over element that is upside down. | Transpose order of words, letters, or figures. |

[Pg 318]

The image above and the last image of the previous page show eight marks for | Kind of Type |. The descriptions of the marks say | Change to Roman type. | Change to Italic type. | Change to capital letter. | Change to small capital letter. | Change to lower case, or small, letters. | Change to black, or bold face type. | Substitute type from regular font for that of wrong font. | Substitute perfect for imperfect type. |

The image above shows twelve | Punctuation | marks. The descriptions say | Insert period. | Insert comma. | Insert semi-colon. | Insert colon. | Insert apostrophe. | Insert double quotation marks. | Insert single quotation marks. | Put in one-em dash. | Put in two-em dash. | Put in hyphen. | Put in question mark. | Put in exclamation point. |

[Pg 319]

The image above and the last image of the previous page show four marks for | Insertion and Omission |. The descriptions say | Put in element indicated in margin at place shown by caret. | Take out element indicated. | Don’t make change indicated; let it stand as it is. | A line of dots is placed under the element that is to remain as it is. |

The image above shows two marks indicating | Uncertainty |. The descriptions say | Look this up to see whether or not it is correct. | See what has been omitted in proof by comparing with the copy. |

The image above shows two marks for | Abbreviation |. The descriptions say | Substitute full form for abbreviation. | Substitute numerical figures. |

The signs used to indicate changes should always be placed in the margin of the proof-sheets, and only those marks that show what elements are to be changed should be put in or between the lines of the proof-sheets. The marks in the printed lines and the signs in the margin are often joined by a line to show the connection between them. If this is not done, the signs for the corrections in each line are arranged in the margin in the order in which the marks indicating the elements to be changed appear in the printed line, each sign being set off by a line slanting from right to left. How proof is corrected is shown in the following example:

The image above is the first six lines of an example of a corrected proof. The remaining part of this example is an image that takes up the whole of the next page.

[Pg 320]

The image above is the continuation of the example of a corrected proof.

[Pg 321]


  1. Read proof word by word.
  2. Cover with a card all lines following the one being read.
  3. Always compare with copy all names, figures, and unusual terms.
  4. Put all correction signs in the margin of proof.
  5. Indicate clearly the element to be changed.
  6. Make changes and corrections so that they cannot be misunderstood.
  7. Watch for errors in punctuation.
  8. Be on the lookout for omission of quotation marks.
  9. Put in one or more words to fill space created by taking out other words.
  10. Take out one or more words to make room for those inserted.
  11. Make only such changes as are absolutely necessary.
  12. Read proof accurately and rapidly.

[Pg 322]



Importance of the “Make-Up.” Although the editing of a newspaper is often regarded as completed when the managing editor has passed upon the proofs of all the matter that the newspaper is to contain, yet the arranging of this material on the several pages, the so-called “making up,” still remains to be done under the direction of one of the editors. The arrangement, or “make-up,” particularly of the front page, plays a very important part in the success of the newspaper. To display the important news of the day in the most effective way is to attract readers. What has been said elsewhere of the advertising value of headlines applies equally to the “make-up.” The best arrangement is that in which the important news stands out prominently, and can therefore be most easily read. A symmetrical balancing of the headlines, half-tones, and cartoons adds greatly to the attractiveness and readableness of the newspaper. Although the average reader does not analyze this element any more than he does any of the other elements of the newspaper that he reads daily, still the “make-up” doubtless leaves an impression upon him.

How the “Make-Up” Varies. Newspaper practice regarding make-up varies as greatly as it does in the case of headlines. The seven-column page is still the normal type, but the eight-column page is rapidly superseding it, because the narrower columns and margins make possible a considerable saving in paper. Some papers[Pg 323] like the New York Sun, the New York Evening Post, the Chicago Daily News, and the Springfield (Mass.) Republican, follow a very simple plan of placing large heads at the top of alternate columns, and of having small heads on all the other stories on the front page, so that the four top heads in the first, third, fifth, and last columns are the only ones that stand out prominently. Other papers, like the Chicago Tribune, put a three-column cartoon in the fourth, fifth, and sixth columns, an arrangement which makes possible large heads in the first, third and last columns and somewhat smaller heads of several decks in the fourth and sixth columns under the cartoon. Still other papers, keeping to the general scheme of alternate columns for large heads, use one-, two-, three-, or four-column cuts of people, places, or events that figure in the news, at the top of the columns and then use slightly smaller heads under these cuts. Two-column heads in the first and second columns are often balanced with two-column heads in the sixth and seventh columns. Some newspapers have practically abandoned the symmetrical arrangement of the front page, and spread headlines in black, red, or green ink, and cuts over the front page in a way that seems to have no other purpose than to produce as bizarre an effect as possible.

Principle of Contrast. The two general principles that underlie the make-up are those of contrast and symmetry. Large heads are alternated at the top of the column with smaller heads so that the large heads will stand out in contrast with the other columns of less prominence. Two or more large heads side by side at the top of the columns do not stand out with as marked effect as when they alternate with smaller heads or no heads at all at the tops of the columns. The same is true when cuts or cartoons serve to furnish the contrast.[Pg 324] With heads not at the top of the columns, effort is made to secure contrast by some form of alternation. A careful study of a number of papers will show a variety of ways in which the principle of contrast determines the arrangement of material on each page.

Principle of Symmetry. That this alternation of the prominent and the less prominent should be closely related to symmetry in arrangement, is evident. In the seven-column form, which is the usual one, the large heads in alternate columns produce a naturally symmetrical effect. When somewhat smaller heads are used lower down on the page, a similar alternation continues to carry out the symmetry. Large two-column heads in the first and second and in the sixth and seventh columns, or smaller two-column ones in the second and third and in the fifth and sixth columns, produce an even balance. In an eight-column page, in which this regular alternation is impossible, some symmetry is often maintained by means of cuts. Many papers do not attempt to have perfect balance on the front page, because of the desire to have the daily cartoon or a cut at the top of the right half of the page where it will attract most attention. Usually when symmetry is sacrificed, the regularity of arrangement is departed from by putting the largest heads, or the illustrations, on the right half of the front page.

Positions of Prominence. The most important news is generally put in the last column to the right on the first page. This is done for two reasons: first, because a long story in this column can run on continuously to the first column of the second page without a jump-head; and second, because, as the papers are laid out on the news stand, the right side of the paper is prominently displayed. This fact accounts for the placing of cuts and cartoons on the right side. If there[Pg 325] are two very important stories carrying larger heads than usual, the one second in importance is put into the first column, partly for symmetry and partly for the reason that, as the paper is read, the first column is prominent. In fact, some papers, especially those that do not count much on street sales, put the most important news in the first column in preference to the last. On all pages except the front one, the first column is usually considered the best.

“Breaking Over” Front Page Stories. In order to preserve the alternation of large heads with smaller ones on the front page, as well as to get as much of the most important news as possible on this page, long stories with large heads are continued from the first page to one of the inside pages. One column of these stories, or often only one-half or two-thirds of a column, is put on the first page, according to the make-up of the lower half of the page, and the remaining part is put with a jump-head on an inside page. When a story is “broken over” from the front page, a dash or rule is put at the end, with the words “Continued on third page” beneath, if the break is at the end of a column; and a dash, or rule, and these words followed by another rule are used if the break is not at the end of a column, the purpose of the second rule being to set off the explanation “Continued on third page,” from the following matter. The jump-heads, as was shown in Chapter XI, are of several kinds: (1) a reproduction of the whole of the original head, (2) a reproduction of the top deck of the original head, or (3) an entirely new head, usually in smaller type than the original one.

Grouping News. Various kinds and forms of news matter are grouped in various ways. Local, state, national, and foreign news is often arranged each kind on a separate page, as is also the society, the sporting, and[Pg 326] the market news. Short one-paragraph news stories, usually with one line of type for a head, are often assembled under such heads as “City News In Brief,” “News of the State,” “Sporting Gossip,” and are arranged in order of size, the smallest being put first, or vice versa. The society news is also frequently arranged in order of size, the longest stories being put at the beginning. In some papers, the heading of these one-paragraph stories, instead of being a separate line, forms a part of the first line of the story and is separated by a dash from the beginning of the story, which fills the remaining third or quarter of the first line.

The “Make-Up” Page by Page. The pages that contain little or no live news matter are made up as far as possible in advance of the first edition of the paper so that they will be out of the way when the news pages are to be arranged. The editorial page, and special pages such as the woman’s page, the theatrical page, the continued story or feature page, can usually be made up, stereotyped, and put on the press ready for printing before the news pages are made up. The first page is, as a rule, made up last, so that all of the very latest news may be given a prominent place. Evening papers that make a special feature of the financial and market page, make up that page last in order to print the closing quotations of the day and to get the papers out on the street as soon as possible after the closing hour of the exchanges.

The Man Who “Makes Up.” The actual work of arranging the type in the page forms is done by the make-up men of the composing room under the direction of one of the editors. On some newspapers the managing editor directs the make-up, on others the assistant managing editor, and on still others the night editor, or the news editor. With a set of proofs at hand[Pg 327] the editor directing the make-up indicates where all the important stories and cuts are to be placed, and then usually allows the make-up men to fill in the shorter matter with the smaller heads. The experienced editor can picture in his mind the appearance of the first page in print, as he directs the arrangement of the masses of type and the cuts. A diagram, or schedule, is usually made out by the editor in advance to indicate the position of the most important news and cuts.

“Making Up” Different Editions. As every large newspaper prints several editions, the page forms, after being stereotyped, are returned to the composing room to be made over for the next edition. On a morning paper the first edition, intended for places at a considerable distance, is made up to leave the composing room about 9.30 in the evening. A second mail edition follows this at about 11.30 P.M., another at 1.30 A.M., and the regular city edition at about 2.30 or 3.30 A.M.

On an afternoon paper the first edition may be made up at 6 o’clock in the morning, and other editions may follow at intervals of about two hours throughout the day. Generally, however, the noon edition, made up about 10.30, is the first. This is followed by a mail edition made up at about 12.30; by the home edition for distribution by carriers made up at 2.30; and by the market edition made up at about 3.15, or as soon as the closing quotations are received from the leading exchanges all over the country. The sporting extra, following the market edition, is made up the instant the complete score is received of the baseball game in which the local team played, or whenever the result of the most important sporting event of the day is announced. Following the sporting edition, many afternoon papers get out a special mail edition, dated the following morning,[Pg 328] for distribution to distant points in competition with the earliest mail edition of the morning papers.

In making up the several editions, it is desirable to change as few pages as possible in order to save time and to avoid additional stereotyping. When arranging the news on the inside pages for the first edition, the editor can make up some of the news pages so that they need not be made over for several editions at least. The front page is made over for each edition and usually one or two inside pages. As the value of news changes considerably in the five or six hours between the first and the last editions, the longer stories with large heads that occupy prominent places on the front page in the earlier editions are often cut down, given smaller heads, and put in less conspicuous places when later news requires the best position. Front-page stories of the first editions often go over into the inside pages with headlines unchanged, sometimes with the story cut down and sometimes in the original form. Often only the top deck of the head is rewritten to be set in smaller type, and one or two of the decks are cut off to reduce the size and prominence of the head.

Composing-Room Terms. In the composing-room the editor in charge of the make-up finds a number of technical terms in common use in addition to those pertaining to type that are explained in Chapter X.

When all the “takes,” or pieces, of copy have been given out to the linotype operators or compositors, the copy is said to be “all in hand”; when it is all in type, or all set, it is said to be “all up.” Each operator puts a “slug” containing his number at the beginning of matter that he sets as his take. Advertisements are set in the part of the composing-room known as the “ad alley.” Matter set by hand or on a linotype machine is arranged by “bank men” in proper order in[Pg 329] galleys on a “bank,” or sloping shelf. After type has been used or has been killed, it is “distributed” by hand, letter by letter, into the cases. Linotype slugs, and usually all type smaller than 12-point that is cast on a monotype, are thrown into the “hell-box” to be taken to the stereotyping-room and melted up, so that the metal can be used again.

Page forms are made up on the “stone,” a smooth table top, formerly of stone, now of metal. Forms are “justified” to make all of the columns exactly the same length by inserting leads here and there between the lines when a column is too short, and by taking out a few leads when it is too long. After being “justified,” the forms are “planed down,” or leveled, with a “planer,” or wooden block, which is tapped with a mallet to force all type and cuts down to the level surface of the stone. Type that does not stand squarely on its base is said to be “off its feet.” The forms are “locked” by means of screws, or of wedges known as “quoins.” After the first page form is thus “closed,” it may have to be “ripped open” for late news. The forms are “put away” when they are sent to the stereotyping-room.


  1. Observe carefully the “make-up” of representative newspapers in different parts of the country.
  2. Study the “make-up” of your own paper.
  3. Display the important news in a conspicuous position on the front page.
  4. Arrange the front page to secure as much symmetry as possible.
  5. Put the most important news story in the last, or outside, column of the first page.
  6. Place the second best story in the first column of the front page.
  7. Break over into the inside pages front-page stories of more than a column in length.[Pg 330]
  8. Alternate large and small heads at the top of the columns for contrast.
  9. Remember that the upper right hand quarter of the first page is the most conspicuous.
  10. Group on separate pages market, society, sporting, state, foreign, and other distinct kinds of news.
  11. See that all guide lines are taken out when the type is assembled in the form.
  12. Don’t use any matter before it is “released.”
  13. Have some good two or three line “fillers” on hand.
  14. Don’t “hold over” or “kill” really live news matter.
  15. Remember that the number of street sales depends considerably upon the “make-up” of the front page.

[Pg 331]



The Newspaper Worker and His Work. Any discussion of newspaper writing and editing would be incomplete if it did not consider the function of the newspaper and the relation of the newspaper worker to that function. In this presentation of methods of newspaper making the object has been to explain and to exemplify current practices in journalism rather than to discuss the ultimate purpose and results of such methods. It is evident, however, that unless the reporter and the editor, consciously or unconsciously, set up for themselves ideals based on their conception of the function of the newspaper, they have no standards by which to measure the character of their work. Merely to accept existing methods without analyzing them to determine their results, is to overlook their underlying purpose. Not until a reporter or an editor realizes the effect that his news story or his headline produces upon the opinions, and hence upon the lives, of the thousands of persons who read it, does he appreciate the full significance of his work. Ideals and standards for any kind of work appeal much more strongly to the average worker when he knows the ultimate effect of what he is doing.

The Newspaper and the Community. Like all other undertakings, public and private, newspaper making tends to conform to the current ideals and tastes of the community. As far as it is a private business enterprise, it is influenced by the conditions and the[Pg 332] practices prevailing in the business world. As a medium of information and publicity, it is measured by the standards of the community in which it circulates. It is a product of its environment, and at the same time it is a force in creating that environment.

Conditions in newspaper making to-day are the outgrowth of the journalism of preceding generations. The changes that have produced these conditions are to a considerable extent the results of social, political, and economic forces. A brief survey of the development of newspaper editing and publishing, with special reference to present problems in journalism, will help to a better understanding of the function of the newspaper of to-day.

Growth of the Business Element. In the last seventy-five years in this country, the editing and the managing of newspapers have undergone a significant development. From being a comparatively simple undertaking, newspaper publishing has become a big, complex, highly organized enterprise. In 1835 it was possible for one man, James Gordon Bennett, Sr., to start the New York Herald with a cash capital of $500, and to perform the greater part of the work connected with its publication, for the owner-editor’s duties ranged from editorial writing to keeping books, from gathering police news to making out bills, and from commenting on conditions in Wall Street to writing advertisements. The first instance of ownership of a newspaper by an incorporated stock company came ten years later when Horace Greeley and Thomas M’Elrath, editor and business manager respectively of the New York Tribune, decided to share their personal ownership of that paper with five assistant editors and with the five employees of the business and mechanical departments who had been connected with the Tribune[Pg 333] for the longest time. This joint ownership plan Greeley and his assistants hoped would in time result in the “still further application of the general principle that the workman should be his own employer and director, and should receive the full reward of his labor.” The amount raised by this stock company, $100,000, was considered at that time a very large sum to be devoted to newspaper publishing. How rapidly the conditions of newspaper making changed is shown by the fact that less than thirty years after the New York Tribune was incorporated with its shares at $100 each, these shares sold for as much as $10,000 each, and in 1869, less than thirty-five years after the New York Herald began with $500 cash capital, Bennett refused an offer of $2,000,000 for his paper. Within the lifetime of these two great editor-publishers newspaper making had become a big business enterprise.

Newspapers Require Large Capital. During the last quarter of a century the amount of capital required for success in newspaper publishing has been further increased by the need for huge presses, expensive linotypes and other type-casting machines, and more elaborate stereotyping apparatus, as well as for better news service, new special features, and more numerous illustrations. Expensive additions to the mechanical equipment and other exigencies often make it necessary for the newspaper company, like other business enterprises, to secure financial assistance by borrowing considerable sums from banks. Such has become the magnitude of the business side of the newspaper that ownership by stock companies is the rule to-day instead of the exception as it was in 1845. Not infrequently the majority of the stock of a newspaper is held by one man or in one family, and one person, often known as the publisher-owner, directs the publishing.[Pg 334] In large cities the amount of capital required to establish and maintain a daily newspaper is so great that the publisher-owner must be a man of considerable wealth. Stock in newspaper companies, however, is not held exclusively by those directly connected with the paper. From the point of view of the stockholders of a newspaper company, who are not directly connected with the newspaper and who are interested in it largely if not entirely as an investment, the important consideration is that the newspaper shall be profitable, that dividends shall be adequate and regular. In short, newspaper publishing has become a large business undertaking subject to the conditions of big business enterprises.

Increase in Advertising. Another important factor in newspaper publication, that has developed in the last twenty-five years almost step by step with the increased cost, has been the remarkable growth of newspaper advertising. With growing combination and competition in business, managers of great retail stores discovered that daily news of their establishments, in the form of description of new goods, bargains, and special prices and sales, was read by many with as much interest as were other kinds of news. Newspaper advertising of this kind has proved very profitable both to the advertiser and to the paper.

Half-page, full-page, and even two-page advertisements of department stores and other retail business concerns have necessitated an increase in the size of regular editions of daily papers from eight pages to twelve, sixteen, or twenty-four pages. The number of classified advertisements, such as “want ads,” has also increased greatly within recent years. The large revenues from all forms of advertising have made it possible to give the reader a better paper as well as a bigger[Pg 335] one, and at the same time to reduce the price generally from three or five cents to one or two cents a copy. The reduction in price, in turn, has resulted in remarkable gains in circulation. Whereas a generation ago 50,000 copies daily was considered a very large circulation, we now have newspapers printing daily editions of from 150,000 to 900,000 copies. Thus, although the cost of producing the newspaper has constantly increased, the price to the reader has been reduced.

The result of these readjustments has been that from two thirds to three quarters of the cost of maintaining a newspaper comes from the advertising, and only from one quarter to one third from subscriptions and sales. This means that when a man buys a penny paper, he is buying for one cent what it costs three or four cents to produce, and that the difference between the cost and the price he pays is paid for by the advertisers.

Decline of Personal Journalism. Coincident with the change in the financial organization of newspapers, significant changes have taken place in the editing of them. Two generations ago the owner-editor who established a newspaper with a limited amount of capital, as Greeley did the Tribune, was the real head of his paper, who expressed vigorously his own opinions in its editorial columns. Personal journalism, as the expression of the political, social, and economic beliefs of great editors, like Greeley, Bennett, Bowles, Raymond, Dana, and Godkin, was an important influence in American life. These men were recognized as leaders. The opinions set forth in their editorials were accepted by readers as significant contributions to the solution of current problems. In short, it was a period of great editorial leadership.

With the development of the telegraph, the telephone, and the railroad mail service, and with the expansion[Pg 336] of the nation and its interests, the amount of news available for publication increased many fold. Distance, once a formidable obstacle to newsgathering, practically ceased to exist when news could be flashed in a few minutes from one end of the world to the other. The news field was enlarged from the city and its suburbs to include the whole earth. The newspaper became truly a paper of news, a budget of facts rather than a medium for expressing the editor’s opinions. As a purveyor of the news, it increased in circulation and prosperity. With an ample supply of facts upon which to base their opinions, the readers no longer needed to accept opinions ready-made from the editor. With greater independence in thinking and in voting on the part of the reading public the editorial leadership of the newspapers declined. At present the three or four columns of editorials are relatively unimportant as compared with the ten or twelve pages of news. To-day the names of the editors are unknown to the majority of the readers. Company ownership has contributed toward minimizing the opportunities of personal editorship, until now it is said that personal journalism, in the old sense of the term, has all but ceased to exist in this country.

Wars Develop Newspapers. In the gathering of news and in the effective presenting of it, the two most important influences have been the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. The great demand from readers of all classes for the latest reports from the front during the War of the Rebellion was a great stimulus to newspaper editors and publishers. The beginning of the present summary “lead,” and of the long bulletin form of headline for news stories, is to be found in connection with the telegraph dispatches of war news. The advent of “yellow journalism,” especially in New York[Pg 337] City, coincided with the breaking-out of the Spanish-American War. Big headlines, and news displayed in larger type, served to advertise the latest reports, which the public eagerly sought. The climax of large headlines is found in two metropolitan newspapers which announced the declaration of hostilities with the single word “WAR,” spread over the whole of the front page. Banner heads in red and black, and large headlines two and three columns in width, that are now not uncommon in newspapers as a means of advertising the news, had their beginning in the Spanish-American War days.

The Growth of Cities. The growth in the population of cities, partly as a result of the movement from the country to the city, and partly as a result of immigration, has made possible large increases in newspaper circulation. New papers have not been established generally to meet this growth in population; existing papers, rather, have added to the number of their readers. The result has been that a few large papers are to be found in all the big cities of the country rather than an ever-increasing number of small ones. In great centres of population, like New York and Chicago, the influx of foreign immigrants has also been a factor in the development of so-called “yellow journalism.” With a limited knowledge of the English language and of American institutions, this foreign element has been attracted by large, striking headlines, sensational news stories, diagrammatic illustrations, and well-displayed editorials, and has become a considerable part of the total number of readers of the “yellow journals.”

The Development of Features. Hand in hand with the remarkable growth of advertising in newspapers has gone the development of important features in the editing of them. The success of department store advertisements, for example, depends to a considerable[Pg 338] extent on the number of women readers. To secure and retain these readers, newspapers have, accordingly, developed a number of features primarily intended for women. Fashion news, cooking and household recipes, discussions of etiquette, articles on health and beauty, advice in affairs of the heart, society news, reports of women’s clubs, and similar subjects have been given greater space from year to year because of the constantly growing importance of women readers as a factor in the business success of the newspaper.

The increase in the amount of advertising has made possible also the expansion, in size and scope, of the Sunday paper. Special articles, fiction, humor, and illustrations in black and colors, fill special supplements, magazine sections, and “comics.” In fact, aside from the news sections, the reading matter in Sunday newspapers has become practically identical in character with that of the popular weekly and monthly magazines.

Reading matter the primary purpose of which is entertainment rather than information has always had a place in daily papers. Despite the great increase in the amount of news available, this kind of material has not been crowded out. The daily short story, a chapter of a serial novel, feature articles, humor in verse and prose, and similar forms of entertaining reading matter are a recognized part of every issue of many newspapers in all parts of the country.

The perfecting of photo-engraving processes, by which half-tone illustrations and zinc etchings can be made rapidly at relatively small cost, has added another important feature to the newspaper. Photographs of persons, places, and events that appear in the day’s news are now quickly reproduced by the newspaper half-tone. Cartoons printed by means of zinc etchings occupy a prominent place in many papers.

[Pg 339]

Aims of the Newspaper. The present-day newspaper, as a result of this evolution, undertakes to accomplish five ends: (1) to furnish news, (2) to interpret the news and to discuss current issues, (3) to give useful information and practical advice, (4) to supply entertaining reading matter, and (5) to serve as an advertising medium. The primary purpose of the newspaper is undoubtedly to furnish news and editorial discussions; the secondary one to supply useful information and entertaining reading matter. These results, however, can be accomplished with the present small cost to the reader only by reason of the fact that the newspaper is a valuable purveyor of advertising publicity.

The interrelation between the advertising matter and the other contents of the newspaper is a vital one. The value of newspaper advertisements is determined by the number and the character of the persons who read the “ads,” that is, by the circulation of the newspaper. The circulation, in turn, depends on the amount and the character of the news and other features of the newspaper. Increases in circulation make possible higher advertising rates, and higher rates produce larger revenues from advertisements. The greater income received from advertising and circulation is generally used to increase and improve the reading matter. Decreases in advertising revenues usually mean retrenchment in expenses and a reduction of reading matter. If this reduction in news and other features of the newspaper is marked, the paper will lose readers. Advertising, circulation, and the character of the contents of a newspaper are thus closely bound up with one another.

Recognition of Its Public Function. That in its primary purpose, of furnishing the news of the day with an interpretation of it and a discussion of current[Pg 340] issues, the newspaper is a public institution, has been recognized from earliest times both in this country and abroad. Although the American newspaper has at all times been a private enterprise, its public function has always been emphasized. In guaranteeing the freedom of the press, the framers of the first amendments to the Constitution realized that it is necessary in a democracy to have full information and free discussion on all questions, social, economic, and political. They believed as did Milton when he wrote, in his great defense of liberty of the press addressed to the English Parliament at the very dawn of English journalism, “Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity must be much arguing, much writing, many opinions, for opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.”

The responsibility of the press to the public has been repeatedly emphasized. In condemning the appointment of editors to public office as a means of securing their support, Daniel Webster, in 1832, declared: “In popular governments, a free press is the most important of all agents and instruments. The conductors of the press, in popular governments, occupy a place in the social and political system of highest consequence. They wear the character of public instructors.”

That the newspapers are the teachers of the people has been reiterated on the platform, in the pulpit, and in the newspapers themselves. Wendell Phillips, a generation ago, in speaking of the importance of newspapers in this country, said: “It is a momentous, yes, a fearful truth, that millions have no literature, no schools, almost no pulpit but the press. It is parent, school, college, pulpit, theatre, example, counselor, all in one. Let me make the newspapers, and I care not who makes the religion or the laws.”

[Pg 341]

The Function of Newspapers in a Democracy. To accept this generally recognized function of the newspaper as the distributor of information on all the varied subjects presented in the day’s news, is to give the newspaper a place of great responsibility in a democracy like ours. If we consider only its news-distributing function and disregard editorial influence, the place of the newspaper is still a vital one in our country, for the success of a democratic form of government depends upon intelligent action by the individual voter. Such voting must be based upon accurate information concerning all important events of the day,—events of a social, commercial, and industrial significance, as well as those of political import,—because many of the important questions upon which the voter should cast an intelligent ballot concern economic and social problems rather than purely political ones. Practically the only source of information for the average voter concerning local, national, and international events, is the newspaper.

The rapidly increasing tendency of citizens in voting to disregard party affiliations, and the recent extension of methods of direct making of laws by means of the initiative and the referendum, require that citizens have accurate information on a great variety of subjects to enable them to vote intelligently on men and issues. Any influence that tends to affect the accuracy of statements concerning current events thereby tends to affect the basis underlying the opinions of the voters. Upon the accuracy of the newspapers in matters of news, therefore, depends to a great extent the character of our government.

Limitations to Accuracy and Completeness. Absolute accuracy in gathering and presenting the news is subject to human limitations. Seldom do two eye-witnesses from whom the reporter gets information[Pg 342] agree in their accounts of what happened. The reporter must judge of the value of the testimony of each witness, and must make up a composite account of the truth as he sees it in these different narratives. The copy-reader, in editing the reporter’s story, frequently finds it necessary to cut it down considerably because of the importance of other news. Again the accuracy of the report may be affected by reason of this “boiling down.” The headline writer, working under strict limitations of space, may modify the impression produced upon the reader by the original story. Even on the mechanical side the accuracy of the news may be affected by a careless compositor or proof-reader. The rapidity with which all the processes of newspaper making are performed greatly increases the possibility of error. The personal equation, for which allowance is made in all scientific and technical work, enters into every part of the process of newspaper making, from the gathering and writing of the news by the reporter, through the editing of it and the writing of a headline for it, to the compositor, proof-reader, and make-up man. The chances of printing inaccurate statements under such conditions may be reduced to a minimum only by the exercise of the greatest possible care on the part of all those concerned in the rapid production of newspapers, but mistakes of this type can never be entirely eliminated.

Failure to give a complete report of the day’s news is due in part to the amount of news available. Inasmuch as the average newspaper in a large city receives from two to three times as much news daily as it can publish, it is necessary for editors to select from the available news, and to decide quickly which news is the most important for their readers. The fact that this news comes in by mail, telephone, and telegraph, as well as from reporters, at intervals throughout the day and[Pg 343] the night, makes it impossible for the editors to judge with absolute accuracy of the relative value of each piece of news as it is received. Consequently news values are constantly being readjusted as each important piece of news reaches the office. In the final decision in regard to what news shall be printed, what shall be omitted, and how much space shall be given to each piece of news that is published, the personal judgment of the editors is the determining factor.

Besides inaccuracy and incompleteness in presenting the news of the day due to the personal judgment of those responsible for the making of the newspaper, other forms of suppression or distortion of news are to be found in newspaper publishing due to the influence of various forces. It is to these influences that peculiar significance attaches from the point of view of the ethics of newspaper publishing, because in such cases the incomplete and inaccurate presentation of the news is deliberate.

Some Sinister Influences. The forces that make for the suppression and the “coloring” of news as well as for the restriction of editorial independence, critics of newspapers assert, are the result of the changes in business and editorial management during the last seventy-five years. The charge is made that too many newspapers are “edited from the counting-room.” Business interests, it is said, particularly those of advertisers, influence news and editorials. Because of stock company ownership and the absence of editorial management by men known to the public, as were the editors in the days of personal journalism, wealthy men or corporations, it is charged, have been able quietly to buy up the stock of some newspapers and through hired editors, of whom in these days the public knows nothing, to direct secretly the news and editorial policies[Pg 344] for personal advantage. Some banks, these critics declare, have refused loans to newspapers the policies of which were inimical to the interests largely represented among the stockholders or the customers of the banks; and when loans have been made to newspapers by other banks, such indebtedness has sometimes been used to prevent the newspapers from maintaining or adopting policies hostile to their interests. So-called “yellow journalism,” critics of newspapers point out, furnishes another example of the commercializing of the press, because, in order to increase their circulation and profits, the publishers of “yellow” journals pander to their readers’ cravings for the sensational. A number of newspapers have published advertisements of fraudulent and questionable enterprises because of the additional revenues to be obtained from this source. Whether these charges are true of a number of newspapers or of only a few, the existence of these conditions and the possibility of these dangers make the subject one of vital importance not only to newspaper men but to every citizen of the country.

Suppression of News. If, for example, owners of retail stores request newspapers in which they advertise to suppress all news of elevator accidents in their stores because such news hurts their business, the newspaper publishers might consent to this suppression on the ground that it is more important to retain the good will and patronage of these advertisers than to give their readers the news of the accidents. The very existence of the paper, they may argue, depends upon these advertisers, and, after all, newspapers give their readers the accounts of so many other accidents that those concerning elevators in department stores will never be missed. This seems to be a logical argument for omitting news of this kind, but when the results of such suppression[Pg 345] are traced, the action, it is realized, is unjustifiable. In the first place, elevator accidents are often due to carelessness and haste on the part of passengers, and newspaper accounts of them accordingly serve to warn many people to be more careful. Thus the publication of the news helps to prevent accidents. Again, the accidents may be due in part to the employment of young, inexperienced, or careless operators. When it is proposed to correct these difficulties by a local ordinance or by a state law providing that elevator operators must be over eighteen years of age and must be licensed as competent, the importance of passing such a regulation is more evident to the average voter if he knows of the frequency of such accidents. The suppression of news of these accidents would deprive most citizens of knowledge upon which to base an opinion as to the need of laws governing elevator operators.

The business interests of some cities, it is said, have urged newspapers to suppress the news of epidemics or threatened epidemics of such diseases as typhoid fever, smallpox, and even bubonic plague, because reports of the presence of these diseases in a city keep away travelers and hurt business. At first glance this plea might seem a just one, and records show that it has been successful in a number of instances. But the question inevitably arises, Has not the tourist, the buyer, and every one else who is planning to go to that particular city a right to know of the health conditions that prevail there, in order to decide whether he wishes to expose himself to the possibility of sickness and death? Again, Has not every citizen and voter of the city a right to know of these conditions, not only that he may protect himself and his family, but that he with other citizens and voters may remedy the conditions responsible[Pg 346] for the epidemic and may provide for stamping it out? Reformers in some cities have declared that local newspapers have refused to give publicity to campaigns against graft and vice because the exposure of such conditions, the publishers said, would reflect on the reputation of the city and would hurt business. Others have said that newspapers have reported and upheld investigations of municipal corruption as long as those affected by such exposure were persons of little influence or importance in the community, and that as soon as more important business interests were threatened by the investigations, the attitude of the newspapers changed completely. The question to consider is, Should the business interests of the city be paramount to the welfare of all the people? The vital questions for editors to decide must be, Are newspapers in such cases doing their duty as distributors of complete and accurate reports of the news of the day? Are they not morally responsible when they fail to perform this duty?

“Coloring” the News. The so-called “coloring” or “shading” of news is in the same category as the suppression of news. It is possible to change the facts more or less completely so that a story not only is incomplete but produces a false impression on the mind of the reader. The sin is then no longer one of omission; it becomes one of commission. To belittle the campaign of the opposing political party, newspapers have misrepresented the size of the political meetings, the enthusiasm of the audiences, the arguments of the speakers, and in general, the success of the efforts to win votes. Candidates, likewise, have been assailed and misrepresented in news stories. In economic disturbances, such as strikes and lockouts, some newspapers have given their readers colored reports by “playing up” the disorder of the strikers, their threats of violence,[Pg 347] and their unreasonableness in refusing terms of settlement. Other newspapers, representing the labor interests, have printed “shaded” reports to show that employers have treated their men unjustly, that the militia has been brutal, and officers of the law unfair to strikers.

Newspaper editors and publishers, in these and other instances, often maintain that they only print what their readers want. The questions involved, therefore, are, Do readers want unbiased news reports of the events of the day, or do they prefer to have them “colored” or “shaded” to favor the side in which they as a class are interested? Does the business man who takes a conservative, well-edited newspaper want news stories written to suit his point of view? Does the workingman who buys the Socialist daily or the labor union daily really want his news “shaded” to favor the cause of labor? In the case of a strike in which business or manufacturing interests are involved, do not both employers and employees want the actual facts as an unprejudiced reporter sees them? If readers do want “colored” news in such cases, are editors justified in departing from the truth in order to satisfy them?

Some men of wealth and some big business corporations have undoubtedly bought existing newspapers or have established new ones, secretly or openly, with the evident intention of using news and editorial columns to advance their own interests. Ambition to secure political office or power has obviously been the purpose of some of these men. Creation of public opinion favorable to their business interests has undoubtedly been the aim of other men and of corporations. Suppression of unfavorable news, and the “coloring” of other news to make it more favorable, as well as editorial argument and comment, are the means used to accomplish these[Pg 348] ends. In one notorious example in a large city in the Middle West, reporters and editors were furnished with a list of certain business enterprises that were not to be mentioned in any unfavorable connection in the news, because the owner of the paper was financially interested in these enterprises. Although men and corporations have a right to present their side of any case through the medium of the newspapers, and although there may be no valid objection to the ownership or control of newspapers by men with political ambitions or by corporations, it is plain that such ownership and control are fraught with danger to public welfare by reason of the public opinion thus created.

Making News “Yellow.” “Yellow journalism,” it is conceded, has been developed largely by furnishing the readers with sensational phases of the day’s events. In order to make the everyday news seem more startling, large headlines with bold-face type printed in black, green, and red have blazoned forth the striking facts of the news. Sensational news stories of all kinds have constantly been “played up” prominently. When the facts were not particularly unusual or striking, they have been “colored” to seem so. This “sensationalizing” of the news has been the result of an effort to attract large numbers of readers and by enlarging circulation to increase profits. The effect on the readers of this giving over of a large part of the news columns to sensational news, and this “coloring” of news to make it more sensational, is, of course, to give them a distorted idea of current events. To what extent this distorted view of life affects the relation of these readers to society is the question to be determined in analyzing the effects of “yellow journalism.”

Three Causes. The three principal reasons for suppressing or coloring news, as we have seen, therefore,[Pg 349] are: (1) the desire of the owners of the newspaper to use it to advance their own private interests or those of their party or faction; (2) the influence of advertisers and other business interests that wish to protect their own enterprises; (3) the effort to make the news more attractive and sensational than it really is in order to gain readers.

Effects of Adulterated News. Whatever may be the reason for the “coloring” or the suppression of news, the effect of this distortion or suppression upon the opinions and the votes of citizens is a matter of sufficient importance to the people generally to warrant careful consideration, not only by citizens but by newspaper men themselves. If the social and political interests of the community are vitally affected by news furnished in the newspapers, as has been shown in the examples given, publishers cannot claim that the purpose of the newspapers is to sell as many copies as possible, to get as much advertising as possible, and to give the people what they want to read, rather than to furnish their readers with a record of the interesting and significant activities of the day, as complete and accurate as it can be made. Like common carriers, such as railroads, the newspapers have a public function as well as the private one of making money, and that public function is to furnish news, the commodity in which they deal, in a complete and accurate form.

News adulterated and “colored” is as harmful to the opinions of newspaper readers as impure and poisonous food is to their physical constitutions. Before pure food legislation prohibited adulterating, coloring, and misbranding of foods, the buyer was at the mercy of the unscrupulous manufacturer, just as the newspaper reader is at the mercy of the unscrupulous newspaper maker. Although public sentiment has demanded[Pg 350] laws to prevent impure food, it has not yet insisted that its food for thought be furnished unadulterated. A generation ago government regulation of railroad rates, foodstuffs, and the size of business combinations would have been regarded as unjustifiable interference with personal liberty. To-day any government interference with newspapers is considered as an attack on the freedom of the press. Is it not possible that the next generation may see every newspaper of this country compelled by public opinion, if not by legislation, to give complete, unbiased reports of all events of general interest?

Questionable Advertisements. As an advertising medium, the newspaper also has an obligation to the community. By giving widespread publicity in their advertising columns to fraudulent investment schemes, dangerous patent nostrums, disreputable medical practitioners, and other objectionable matter, some newspapers, doubtless unintentionally, have aided in grossly deceiving and seriously injuring the reading public that they claimed to serve. For such practices the excuse has been offered that the business of the newspaper is to sell advertising space to any one who will buy it, and that it is not the business of advertising managers and publishers to investigate the truthfulness or moral character of the advertisements that they publish. Realization by newspapers of the fact that by printing objectionable advertising they may cause great harm to their readers has led many of them to reject entirely all forms of questionable advertisement even though to do so has, in some instances, cut off annually from $50,000 to $200,000 of possible revenue.

Honesty in Journalism. The discussion of these various undesirable tendencies in newspaper making, and the presentation of these criticisms of some newspapers,[Pg 351] do not imply that all newspaper editors and publishers have subordinated public welfare to private gain, or that all have permitted sinister external influences to affect their news and editorial policies. Neither is it to be assumed that these questionable methods are necessary for business success in newspaper publishing. There are many notable examples of honest, independent newspapers that have enjoyed marked financial success. In fact, a careful survey of the whole country would doubtless show that few newspapers that have continued to juggle with the truth in news and editorials have been permanently successful in making money or in keeping the confidence of their readers. Lincoln’s words are as true of newspapers as of politicians, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”

The stronger a newspaper grows because of the size and the character of its circulation, and because of the money value of the good will thus acquired, the more independent it becomes of the external influences that may seek to modify its news and editorial policy. Unless such papers are maintained to represent special business or political interests, well-established papers with adequate capital behind them are not likely to be affected by the demands of advertisers or other outside forces. Strong, independent newspapers can publish the facts in the news and can print editorial comments without fear or favor.

Unfortunately the rapidly increasing cost of newspaper production has reduced the margin of profit of a large number of newspapers to a point where the loss of any considerable amount of advertising or other support means financial failure. Under such circumstances, publishers have yielded to pressure from various interests[Pg 352] and have made concessions which doubtless they would not have done if they had been in positions of greater financial independence. A few editors and publishers have simply regarded newspaper making as an enterprise in no wise different from business and politics, and have accepted the less commendable standards that have resulted from competition in business and rivalry in politics. Whatever the explanation that is offered for deliberate failure to give newspaper readers the truth, it must not be regarded as condoning the offense, however great or slight.

The Reporter and His Problems. The student of journalism should know the conditions as they exist, so that he may face the problems squarely and choose deliberately the course that he desires to pursue. Too often reporters, editors, or publishers have not weighed fully the ultimate effects produced by suppressing or coloring the news. It is only by full consideration of the public function of the newspaper as a factor in the social and political life of the community that the true significance of dealing lightly with the truth as a crime against society is revealed in unmistakable colors.

Although the news policy of the newspaper is determined by those above him in authority, the reporter must decide his own attitude toward that policy. If he finds that he cannot conscientiously accept the ideas and ideals of his superiors because these do not conform to his own standards of truth and honesty, he must look for a position on a paper that does conform to those standards. A man cannot retain his self-respect if he undertakes to do work that he believes to be false or dishonest.

On any newspaper, however, the reporter finds himself confronted with various problems that involve the public function of the newspaper. He may be requested[Pg 353] by an acquaintance, or by some person with whom his work brings him into contact, to suppress, as a whole or in part, a piece of news that it falls to his lot to report. Men and women threatened with exposure or disgrace because of one wrong step, will plead with him to spare them and their families by suppressing the news of their downfall. In all such cases the reporter will do well to refer the request to his superiors and to avoid promising to suppress any news. Older and more experienced newspaper men in positions of authority on the paper are usually better able to judge of the desirability of yielding to requests and pleas of this kind than is the young reporter.

How “Faking” Does Harm. In collecting and presenting facts the reporter should make every reasonable effort to have them as complete and accurate as possible. He is not justified in defending his failure to get and present the truth and the whole truth on the ground that as long as a story is interesting it makes little difference whether or not it is entirely true. The first temptation to depart from the truth not infrequently comes in an apparently innocent form. In the absence of real news, or in an effort to show his cleverness, the reporter takes some trivial incident and, by amplifying it with humorous but imaginary details, makes of it an amusing little feature story. Such stories often seem quite harmless in their effects on the readers or on the persons mentioned in the stories. Instances are on record, however, of persons who have committed suicide because their acquaintances bantered them about the ridiculous situations in which they had been portrayed in such newspaper stories. The reporter must remember that the persons who play a part in his stories are human beings with feelings, and that to hold them up before thousands of readers in a ridiculous situation[Pg 354] may cause them much suffering. But besides any effect it may have on particular individuals, this embroidering of the truth with fictitious fancies, even when it does not deceive the reader in the least, tends to form in the reporter the habit of embellishing all his stories with imaginary details. Thus it becomes the first step in so-called “faking.”

Newspaper “faking” often appeals to the young reporter as clever and commendable, particularly when he hears older newspaper men tell stories of successful “fakes.” The “cub” may even hear his humorous little feature story praised for its cleverness by his superiors who know that it is largely imaginary. If he does not stop to consider, he may consciously or unconsciously decide that fiction makes better news than truth, and may proceed to write his stories accordingly. Encouraged by some other newspaper man’s account of a similar exploit, he “fakes” an interview when he fails to get one that has been assigned to him. His “fake” interview may deceive the city editor, and when printed may not be repudiated by the man falsely quoted. Although apparently a success from the reporter’s point of view, the “fake” story injures him more than he realizes, for it dulls his moral sense, makes less keen his appreciation of the difference between truth and falsehood. If his superiors discover the deception, they lose confidence in his reliability and may discharge him at once. If his identity is known to the victim of the “fake,” the reporter loses that man’s respect and often makes him an enemy, from whom he cannot hope to secure news in the future. In fact, “faking” is another term for “lying” and the reporter guilty of it deserves to be called by the “short and ugly word.”

Furthermore, every “fake,” whether it deceives few or many, lowers both the newspaper that publishes it[Pg 355] and newspapers generally in the estimation of all who know that it is false. Stories recognized by the reader as untrue, either as a whole or in part, shake his confidence in the truth of all newspaper reports and lead him to discount all the news that he reads. Thus the value of the press as a source of reliable information is seriously impaired. From whatever point of view “faking” is regarded, therefore, it is indefensible. It hurts the guilty writer; it hurts the victim of “the fake”; it hurts the newspaper that publishes it; it hurts journalism generally.

The Dangers of Inaccuracy. Inaccuracy due to carelessness or failure to verify facts is less reprehensible because it is not deliberate, but it is nevertheless a form of misrepresentation that in its results may be as bad as “faking.” An error made by a reporter in the initials or spelling of the name of a person charged with some crime has often injured an innocent man or woman whose name happened to be the same as the incorrect form of the real criminal’s name. In one instance, a firm spent hundreds of dollars in sending out letters contradicting an erroneous newspaper report of its failure, the error having been due to the reporter’s carelessness in confusing the solvent firm with an insolvent one engaged in the same business and having the same name except for different initials. In such cases the newspaper is put in an embarrassing position by its careless reporter, and is compelled to make a public retraction of his mistake. Even if he is not discharged, he is not likely thereafter to be entrusted with important assignments, and everything that he does will be carefully scrutinized until he has established a reputation for accuracy.

If reporters and correspondents remember that every story they write not only affects themselves, their newspapers,[Pg 356] and the persons they write about, but also contributes toward forming the readers’ opinions, they will consider carefully whether or not they can afford to permit haste and carelessness to impair the completeness and accuracy of their work. Although they are at the foot of the journalistic ladder when they begin their work, reporters and correspondents should realize that upon the character of their work in gathering and writing the news depend, to some extent, at least, the opinions of the citizens and voters who read their paper.

How Editors Determine the News Policy. The editors of the news, by determining what shall be printed and how it shall be printed, naturally have greater responsibility for the general character of the newspaper than have the reporters. The editor’s failure to verify facts in the work of reporters and correspondents means that any errors in such work receive his approval and he thereby becomes responsible for them. The results of faithful, accurate reporting, on the other hand, may be entirely destroyed by the editor’s efforts to make the news more striking and sensational. By their instructions to reporters, correspondents, and copy-readers, editors directly determine the character of the newspaper. When an editor tells a reporter, a rewrite man, or a copy-reader to play up a certain “feature” in a news story, he determines to a considerable extent what the effect of that piece of news will be upon the readers. By cutting out important details, by shifting the emphasis from one particular to another, by inserting a word here and there, editors and copy-readers may completely alter the impression made by the news. The size and character of the headline given a story produce quite as great an impression on the reader as the story itself. Headlines, as has already been pointed out, have played no small part in so-called “yellow[Pg 357] journalism.” All that has been said of the importance of giving readers complete and accurate news reports, and of the evils growing out of suppressing or distorting the news, applies quite as much to editors and copy-readers as it does to reporters and correspondents.

The Newspaper Worker’s Problem. A vital question for every one engaged in newspaper writing or editing is whether or not he will obey the orders of his superiors when these orders do not square with his own standards of truth and right. The reporter must decide the question when the city editor gives him his instructions; the city editor must decide when the managing editor directs him in his work; the managing editor must decide when the owners announce to him their policy for the paper. Then it is that every newspaper worker is brought face to face with the problems of present-day newspaper making. Then it is that these problems cease to be general questions for discussion and become a personal matter that each newspaper worker must decide for himself. When it becomes a personal question to him, its solution does not always seem so easy as when it is a general problem, because to disobey the orders of his superiors usually means to lose his position.

This question, however, is not peculiar to the newspaper profession. The problem is not unlike that which confronts men engaged in every kind of business or professional work. Every business man, every lawyer, every physician finds himself called upon again and again to settle for himself the same ethical question. Competition in business not infrequently leads to questionable practices for getting the better of business rivals, employees, or customers; and it is repeatedly necessary for men in positions of all grades to determine[Pg 358] whether or not they will carry out their employers’ policies when these do not agree with their own standards of right and wrong. Lawyers and physicians in their struggle to build up a practice are tempted to resort to methods condemned as unethical by the standards of their profession, or in the offices of established practitioners they find practices in use which do not harmonize with their own ethical ideals. In the older professions of law and medicine the members have directly or indirectly regulated the conditions of admission to practice, and have established codes of professional ethics. Such regulation, reinforced by government legislation, has tended to maintain better professional and ethical standards than would be possible without it.

Journalism, among the last of the callings to be generally recognized as a profession, has established neither standards of admission nor a formulated code of ethics. Only recently has the need of professional college courses in preparation for journalism been recognized by the public and by newspapers themselves. With the quickening of the public conscience in regard to political and social conditions has come a keener appreciation of the importance of the newspaper as the greatest single source of information in our democracy, and a realization of the dangers of abuse of this power by editors and publishers. Whatever opinions may be held as to present-day standards in journalism, every one will grant that it is the duty of those who enjoy the advantages of university training in preparation for this profession to maintain the highest ideals in their own work. Opportunity to know the truth carries with it responsibility for making the truth prevail. Noblesse oblige is as true of the privilege of knowledge as it ever was of the privilege of rank.

[Pg 359]


  1. Remember that whatever you write is read by thousands.
  2. Don’t forget that your story or headline helps to influence public opinion.
  3. Realize that every mistake you make hurts someone.
  4. Don’t embroider facts with fancy; “truth is stranger than fiction.”
  5. Don’t try to make cleverness a substitute for truth.
  6. Remember that faking is lying.
  7. Refer all requests to “keep it out of the paper” to those higher in authority.
  8. Stand firmly for what your conscience tells you is right.
  9. Sacrifice your position, if need be, rather than your principles.
  10. See the bright side of life; don’t be pessimistic or cynical.
  11. Seek to know the truth and endeavor to make the truth prevail.


[1] “Telling the Tale of the ‘Titanic,’” by Alex. McD. Stoddart; The Independent, May 2, 1912.

[2] Collier’s Weekly, March 18, 1911, p. 22.

[3] “What the City Editor does when a Gaynor is shot,” by Alex. McD Stoddart; The Independent, August 25, 1910.




By Mervin J. Curl.

Gives freshmen and sophomores something to write about, and helps them in their writing.


By Norman Foerster, University of North Carolina, and J. M. Stedman, Jr., Emory University.

A practice book in sentence-making for college freshmen.


By Lee Emerson Bassett, Leland Stanford Junior University.

Especial emphasis is placed on the relation of thought and speech, technical vocal exercises being subordinated to a study of the principles underlying the expression of ideas. Illustrative selections of both poetry and prose are freely employed.


By William T. Foster, Reed College.

The point of view throughout is that of the student rather than that of the teacher.


By Carroll Lewis Maxcy, Williams College.

A clear and thorough analysis of the three elements of narrative writing, viz.: setting, character, and plot.


Edited by Carroll Lewis Maxcy.

This compilation contains twenty-two complete selections of various types of narrative composition.


By Gerhard R. Lomer, Ph.D., and Margaret Ashmun.

A textbook for use in college Freshman courses.


By Willard G. Bleyer, University of Wisconsin.

A textbook for classes in Journalism and in advanced English Composition.


By Willard G. Bleyer.

This fully meets the requirements of courses in Journalism as given in our colleges and universities, and at the same time appeals to practical newspaper men.


By Willard G. Bleyer.

Over two hundred typical stories taken from representative American newspapers are here presented in a form convenient for college classes in Journalism.



Edited by ADA L. F. SNELL

Associate Professor of English, Mount Holyoke College

The purpose of the Riverside Essays is to present to students of English composition essays by modern authors which deal in a fresh way with such subjects as politics, science, literature, and nature. The close study of vigorous and artistic writing is generally acknowledged to be the best method of gaining a mastery of the technique of composition.

In the Riverside Essays the material consists of essays which, with few exceptions, have been printed entire. Other advantages of the Riverside Essays for both instructor and student lie in the fact that the material is presented in separate volumes, each of which is devoted to a single author and contains two or more representative essays.

Finally, the series has none of the earmarks of the ordinary textbook which the student passes on, marked and battered, to the next college generation. The books are attractively printed, and bound in the Library Binding of the Riverside Literature Series. The student will therefore be glad to keep these books for his own library.


By James Bryce. With an Introduction. Riverside Literature Series, No. 227, Library Binding.


By John Burroughs. Riverside Literature Series, No. 226, Library Binding.


By John Henry Newman. Riverside Literature Series, No. 225, Library Binding.


By Bliss Perry. With an Introduction. Riverside Literature Series, No. 224, Library Binding.




By George Pierce Baker, Harvard University.


By C. F. Tucker Brooke, Yale University.

An illuminating history of the development of English Drama during the Tudor Period, from 1485 to the close of the reign of Elizabeth.


Edited by Thomas H. Dickinson, formerly of the University of Wisconsin.


Edited by Thomas H. Dickinson.

This book supplements the First Series by making available in a companion volume plays which represent the later tendencies in the drama of Europe and America.


Edited by Brander Matthews, Columbia University, Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

This volume contains one typical play from each of the master dramatists of Europe, with the exception of the English writers.


By Brander Matthews.

Devoted mainly to an examination of the structural framework which the great dramatists of various epochs have given to their plays; it discusses only incidentally the psychology, the philosophy, and the poetry of these pieces.


Edited by W. A. Neilson, President of Smith College, formerly Professor of English Literature in Harvard University.

This volume presents typical examples of the work of the most important of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, so that, taken with Shakespeare’s own works, it affords a view of the development of the English drama through its most brilliant period.


By Felix E. Schelling, University of Pennsylvania. 2 vols.


By Joseph Quincy Adams, Cornell University.

A History of English Theatres from the Beginnings to the Restoration. Fully illustrated.


By Odell Shepard, Trinity College. Riv. Lit. Series. No. 246.

An outline for the study of the leading plays.





Professor of Philosophy, Vassar College

An Introductory Survey of Ethics

THE Boston Transcript says: “It is the great merit of Professor Drake’s book that it moves always in a concrete sphere of life as we daily live it. It never moralizes, it never lays down obiter dicta, it simply talks over with us our personal problems precisely as a keen, experienced, and always sympathetic friend might do. Through and through scientific and scholarly, it is never academic in method and matter.”




THIS book, like Professor Drake’s Problems of Conduct, represents a course of lectures given for several years to undergraduates of Wesleyan University. Their aim is to give a rapid survey of the field, such that the man who is confused by the chaos of opinions on these matters, and himself but little able to judge between conflicting statements, may here get his bearings and see his way to stable belief and energetic action.



Robert Browning’s Complete Poetical and Dramatic Works.

Burns’s Complete Poetical Works.

Byron’s Complete Poetical Works.

Dryden’s Complete Poetical Works.

English and Scottish Ballads.

Keats’s Complete Poetical Works and Letters.

Longfellow’s Complete Poetical Works.

Milton’s Complete Poetical Works.

Pope’s Complete Poetical Works.

Shakespeare’s Complete Works.

Shelley’s Complete Poetical Works.

Spenser’s Complete Poetical Works.

Tennyson’s Poetic and Dramatic Works.

Whittier’s Complete Poetical Works.

Wordsworth’s Complete Poetical Works.


The Chief Middle English Poets. Translated and Edited by Jessie L. Weston.

The Chief British Poets of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries. Edited by W. A. Neilson and K. G. T. Webster.

The Leading English Poets from Chaucer to Browning. Edited by L. H. Holt.

A Victorian Anthology. Edited by Edmund Clarence Stedman.

The Chief American Poets. Edited by C. H. Page.

An American Anthology. Edited by Edmund Clarence Stedman.

Little Book of Modern Verse. Edited by Jessie B. Rittenhouse. R.L.S. No. 254.

Second Book of Modern Verse. Edited by Jessie B. Rittenhouse. R.L.S. No. 267.

Little Book of American Poets. Edited by Jessie B. Rittenhouse. R.L.S. No. 255.

High Tide. Edited by Mrs. Waldo Richards. R.L.S. No. 256.

A Treasury of War Poetry. Edited by George H. Clarke. R.L.S. No. 262.

The Chief Elizabethan Dramatists. Edited by W. A. Neilson.

Chief European Dramatists. In Translation. Edited by Brander Matthews.

Chief Contemporary Dramatists, First Series. Edited by Thomas H. Dickinson.

Chief Contemporary Dramatists, Second Series. Edited by Thomas H. Dickinson.


Riverside Literature Series


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Piers the Ploughman. Webster and Neilson.

Chaucer’s The Prologue, The Knight’s Tale, and The Nun’s Priest’s Tale. Mather.

Ralph Roister Doister. Child.

The Second Shepherds’ Play, Everyman, and Other Early Plays. Child.

Bacon’s Essays. Northup.

Shakespeare Questions. Shepard.

Milton’s Of Education, Areopagitica, The Commonwealth. Lockwood.

Boswell’s Life of Johnson. Jensen.

Goldsmith’s The Good-Natured Man, and She Stoops to Conquer. Dickinson.

Sheridan’s The School for Scandal. Webster.

Shelley’s Poems. (Selected.) Clarke.

Huxley’s Autobiography, and Selected Essays. Snell.

Selections from the Prose Works of Matthew Arnold. Johnson.

Selected Literary Essays from James Russell Lowell. Howe and Foerster.

Howells’s A Modern Instance.

Briggs’s College Life.

Briggs’s To College Girls.

Perry’s The American Mind and American Idealism.

Burroughs’s Studies in Nature and Literature.

Newman’s University Subjects.

Bryce’s Promoting Good Citizenship.

Eliot’s The Training for an Effective Life.

English and American Sonnets. Lockwood.

The Little Book of American Poets. Rittenhouse.

The Little Book of Modern Verse. Rittenhouse.

High Tide. An Anthology of Contemporary Poems. Richards.

Minimum College Requirements in English for Study.

The Second Book of Modern Verse. Rittenhouse.

Abraham Lincoln. A Play. Drinkwater.

Transcriber’s Note (continued)

Punctuation errors in the general text have been repaired. In the practice work examples however, which requires the student journalist to mark up or rewrite a passage of text, there may be deliberate punctuation errors and misspellings. These have been left unchanged.

Except as noted below, unusual or variable spelling and hyphenation published in the original book have been retained in this transcription.

Page 10 — “semi-circular” changed to “semicircular” (semicircular stereotype plates)

Page 52 — “newpapers” changed to “newspapers” (not what newspapers or their readers want)

Page 67 — “defiintely” changed to “definitely” (be definitely fixed in advance)

Page 112 — “near by” changed to “nearby” (the railroad yards nearby)

Page 113 — “day light” changed to “daylight” (Seized by thugs in broad daylight)

Page 149 — “anyway” changed to “any way” (Q.—Did you regulate their duties in any way?)

Page 159 — “acccumulated” changed to “accumulated” (protecting gathered and accumulated)

Page 192 — “daintly” changed to “daintily” (daintily covering her golden brown hair)

Page 212 — “requires” changed to “require” (Feature stories require some literary ability)

Page 222 — “Hipprodrome” changed to “Hippodrome” (back to the Hippodrome)

Page 260 — “Catch lines” changed to “Catch-lines” (Catch-lines, such as “Society,”)

Page 260 — “catch lines” changed to “catch-lines” (the catch-lines may indicate)

Page 267 — “catch lines” changed to “catch-lines” (The application of these marks and the catch-lines)

Footnotes have been re-indexed using numbers and placed before the Index.

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