The Suppression of Important News Edward Alsworth Ross was born on December 12, 1866, in Virden Illinois. Edward lost his parents, a farmer, and a schoolteacher, when he was about 9 years old. He became an orphan raised by three different Iowa families. “Ross received his Ph. D. in political economy in 1891 with minors in philosophy and ethics. In 1892 he married Rosamond Simons, the niece of sociologist (and first president of the American Sociological Society) Lester Frank Ward” (Edward A. Ross).
In 1893, Ross became “an appointed full professor at Leland Stanford University, where he remained until his celebrated dismissal” (Encyclopedia of World Biography on Edward Alsworth Ross). He then became a professor at university of Nebraska for 5 years and finally spent the rest of his career at the University of Wisconsin, “first as professor of sociology and then as department chairman. He retired in 1937 and died in Madison” in 1951 (Encyclopedia of World Biography on Edward Alsworth Ross).
Ross “achieved national fame as a writer and popular lecturer. He authored 27 books and over 300 articles. His work can best be understood as the creative response of a reform-minded sociologist to the problems produced by the rapid industrialization and urbanization of the nation. As a popularizer of the notion that the purpose of sociology is the reform of society, Ross had no peer among American sociologists in his lifetime.
An erudite scholar, inspiring lecturer, courageous reformer, and uncompromising champion of freedom for the individual, he fulfilled the role he established for himself admirably” (Encyclopedia of World Biography on Edward Alsworth Ross). Our daily papers “sensationalize vice and crime, “play up” trivialities, exploit the private affairs of prominent people, embroider facts, and offend good taste with screech, blare, and color” (Ross181) We seem not to give all the facts, but news appears to cater to what the public expects and wants to see and hear.
Everybody watches or reads the news to some extent now, regardless of their social status. Therefore we cannot just talk about serious business matters or the money market, as the media needs to ensure to keep everyone interested and happy, by providing a assortment of different news stories appealing to a variety of individuals. Sadly, it is not all real ‘news’ anymore. News “is deliberately being suppressed or distorted” (Ross181). Not so long before the year 1912, there were many media courses and schools of journalism.
Aspiring reporters were attracted to the professional spirit and professional ethics” (Ross181) of journalism. The perception of the media industry soon changed through growing distortion and suppression of real news, eventually leading to some abandonment of the daily press. Due to high costs of running a daily newspaper, editors are no longer the owners of the paper. Newspapers are run by executives who only have profit on their minds. Their mottos are “Give people what they want, not what you want. ” Back nothing that will be unpopular” and “Run the concern for all it is worth” (Ross182).
The newspaper consists of the distribution of news and advertising. “The one calls for good faith, the other does not” (Ross183). Publicity has become the largest source of income for a newspaper. By 1912, the time this article was published, advertising yielded at least two-thirds of newspaper’s earnings. The advertisers, not the readers, had become the main funders of the daily paper. It was therefore important to the owners of the newspaper to never publish anything that would shed a bad light on any news story concerning the advertisers.
With “the immunity enjoyed by the big advertiser” (Ross183), there were no longer negative stories about major department stores, and the negative news stories shifted towards non-advertising companies, such as banks, rail roads and gas companies. Then they too started to advertise in newspapers and journalists had to start suppressing bad press about those companies as well. In addition, the new owner of the paper, the businessman, often only has his own interests in mind when choosing the content of the paper. He may also use it as a vehicle to “help his other schemes, or further his political or social ambitions” (Ross184).
Newspapers are constantly suppressing important news. For example: “A prominent Philadelphia clothier visiting New York was caught perverting boys, and cut his throat. His firm being a heavy advertiser, not a single paper in his home city mentioned the tragedy” (Ross184). Wherever the firm in question had branches, the newspapers were silent. A newspaper in Chicago was the first one to publish the story. Every newspaper has a list of “sacred cows”, which is a list of corporations that the paper is not to print anything damaging about.
These could be public-service companies, the tax system, the part system, and the “man higher up”. “Nearly every form of privilege is found in he herd of sacred cows venerated by the daily press” (Ross187). What can be done about the suppression of news? “What is needed is a broad new avenue to the public mind” (Ross189). People are being made aware of the truth via muckraking magazines, bulletins, leaflets, journals, and meetings. It is up to the public to look for information in places other than the newspaper. People have the right to have a newspaper that tells the truth and nothing but the truth.
However, to start a newspaper without advertising is very costly, and it would make that paper more expensive then others to buy. Unfortunately, many people will not see why they need to pay more for such a paper, as the paper with advertising gives them pretty much the same information, less a few stories. Therefore it would be hard for the endowed newspaper to exist, unless they get private funding. The endowed newspaper would not “dramatize crime, or gossip of private affairs; above all, it would not “fake,” “doctor,” or sensationalize the news” (Ross191).
They would be considered somewhat of a threat to the big papers, as the big papers do not want to be dubbed as liars. This article by Edward A. Ross was published in 1912, and I am amazed by how relevant it is to what is going on in our society today. Unfortunately, not much has changed regarding the suppression of important news, and it is up to the public to question what you read and hear, by conducting further research to conclude what is fact and what is fiction. Works Cited “Edward A. Ross. ” American Sociological Association. March 6, 2006. American Sociological Association.
July 6, 2008 <http://www. asanet. org/page. ww? name=Edward+A. +Ross§ion=Presidents>. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Edward_A. _Ross McChesney, Robert W. , and Scott Ben. Our Unfree Press: 100 Years of Radical Media Criticism. Ross, Edward A. “The Suppression of Important News. ” 181-192. New York: The New Press, 2004. “Encyclopedia of World Biography on Edward Alsworth Ross. ” Edward Alsworth Ross Biography. 2005-2006 . Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. 2 Jul 2008 <http://www. bookrags. com/biography/edward-alsworth-ross/>.