The publisher of every newspaper in the United States finds himself today face-to-face with a heavy responsibility. That it is, perhaps, a responsibility unjustly forced upon him does not alter the weight of the burden, or the necessity of shouldering it. You are to pay the penalty and make a vicarious sacrifice in atonement for the sin of a certain type of renegade newspaper editor who sold the birthright of American journalism for a mess of pottage - and now hasn't even the pottage.
1932 Address to the National Editorial Association by Harry Chandler, publisher, Los Angeles Times
Many of the ills of this crisis in which the American people are suffering can be traced to the pandering of a certain type of newspaper. They fed to a generation dizzy from too much money the reeking froth of cheap sensationalism, sex debauches, love-nest literature, sneering cynicism, and cocktail morals. They degraded the ideas and the ideals of a generation, which was facing the task of molding a new era of civilization out of the wreck and ruin of the World War.
The cure must come from the same source as the infection. It cannot be other than a vaccine.
When a farmer finds out that his fields are producing tares and thistles, his remedy is the heroic device of plowing it all under and raising another crop.
The kind of journalism that has degraded our feelings and our ideals has to be plowed under; and it is for the country newspapers of America to accomplish this drastic task. They were not to blame for the muck, but they must shovel it away.
The so-called country newspapers of America have always exerted an uplifting and wholesome influence on their communities. They have been built on the simple fundamental morals and ideals of home folks. There are few country editors who would sell their morals and ideals for any consideration. There are few rural communities where such pandering as I have referred to would not have been ruinous -even if such an editor had been found willing to debase himself.
The best that is in American life has come from the country-bred boys who went to the city. The country newspaper reflects the courage and the solid worth of these country-bred families.
It is the country newspaper upon whom is thrust the duty of cleaning the house. You have the confidence and the faith of your communities. You have never lost this faith or sold out this loyalty.
It is a large assignment.
Published in the November 1932 edition of the Texas Press Messenger.