C. Auguste Dupin on some members of the press.

Journalism As you'll see tomorrow, hopefully, this week, this hermitage week, I have been mostly reading some selected works of Edgar Allan Poe. As part of the mission, I've discovered that he just about invented detective fiction with the character of C. Auguste Dupin.

In his second "adventure" The Mystery of Marie Roget (if you can call giving a long deductive lecture in a room an "adventure") Dupin coincidentally offers this marvellous take down of the press (included as a more specific refutation of news reports and columns about a murder), which still seems true a hundred and seventy years later:
"We should bear in mind that, in general, it is the object of our newspapers rather to create a sensation -- to make a point -- than to further the cause of truth. The latter end is only pursued when it seems coincident with the former. The print which merely falls in with ordinary opinion (however well founded this opinion may be) earns for itself no credit with the mob. The mass of the people regard as profound only him who suggests pungent contradictions of the general idea. In ratiocination, not less than in literature, it is the epigram which is the most immediately and the most universally appreciated. In both, it is of the lowest order of merit."
Not to mention, now I suppose, some corners of broadcast news media.    The rest of the story is available here.

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