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

§ 23. The World War

The principal journalistic result of the World War was the elimination of the war correspondent, in the character displayed in previous wars. Scores of correspondents went to Europe, and the burden of expense laid upon the newspapers by the enormous conflict and the excessive cable tolls was unprecedented. But the correspondents were rigorously restricted in their movements and their reports censored so thoroughly that, although a vast quantity of matter was transmitted, for the first time the news of a great war was under practically complete governmental control. In addition to being subject to the trans-Atlantic official censorship of European news, our newspapers united in a voluntary censorship of domestic news, suggested by the Committee on Public Information. Restrictions were laid on the press by the Espionage and other laws which led to considerable suppression, principally through denial of mailing privileges, and brought up for consideration the perennial question of the freedom of the press.

The great advance during and since the World War accelerated an already considerable decrease in the number of weeklies and smaller dailies and led to the disappearance of many larger papers, including some of the oldest and best known in the country. War-time conditions served also to diminish greatly the number of papers printed in the German language, and brought sharply to public notice the great number and influence of the foreign-language papers.

American newspapers surpass in number the papers of all other countries; they have steadily for many decades led in the development of energy and resourcefulness in collecting and dispensing news, as well as in adroitness in perceiving and satisfying popular tastes and demands for information and entertainment. Unsettled as are now the foundations on which the institution of journalism lies, its desire and ability to serve what it considers the best public interests are on the whole remarkable. The extravagances of sensationalism are passing out of fashion; newspaper style, despite the argot of sports and the extravagances due to overzealous pursuit of brightness and catchiness of phrase, is gaining in effectiveness and finish; barring the spectacular sheets, no other newspapers in the world show such typographical beauty. Within the present century men with college education have rapidly replaced the earlier type of journalist, and multiplying schools of journalism are making a profession of the trade.