Home  »  Volume XVII: American LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART II  »  § 14. The Associated Press; Foreign News Service

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XX. Newspapers Since 1860

§ 14. The Associated Press; Foreign News Service

The largest single factor in building the machinery for newsgathering was the press association. After a period of change and struggle beginning in the forties, the Associated Press gradually acquired a dominant position, taking its present form in 1900, and growing in prestige ever since. For years it dealt only with routine events reported by its clients, but in later years it has formed a staff of experienced journalists of its own, has established its bureaus in all leading cities in this country, in the capitals and the larger cities of Europe, and in Central and, more recently, South America. Except that the leading papers maintain special correspondents in Washington, all papers obtain most of their news, except that of local affairs, from the Associated Press or one of its two chief competitors. This news is written in full, and printed, usually, as served. Consequently the press association has had a great influence not only in establishing the tenor of news and the point of view in reporting, but in developing a uniform style in news-writing as well. The influence has been one of restraint, conservative and sound, and for thirty years has tended to improve the tone, as well as the news quality, of American newspapers. The art of reporting and interviewing was assiduously cultivated; the practice of correspondence declined, and along with it the attention paid to foreign news. Although the Associated Press and several newspapers had European bureaus, that field was but superficially covered between the Civil War and 1898, except for a few exploits during the Franco-Prussian War. The war with Spain gave occasion for some of the most brilliant feats of individual reporting yet achieved, and in its sequel served to stimulate interest in events beyond our borders. Several papers, notably the Chicago Daily News, built up staffs in the foreign field exceeding in scope and effectiveness those of any other newspapers in the world. But in general the foreign news service languished.