Newspapers – I love this definition of their ‘duty’ in a free society

A line delivered by Gene Kelly in the 1960 film, Inherit the Wind. Kelly (E.K. Hornbeck) says, “Mr. Brady, it is the duty of a newspaper to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”

Sadly, I suspect that many in the press these days see their job almost in reverse i.e. Comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted.

With thanks for Cllr. Jen Robertson for digging up the quote which actually goes back well beyond the version used in this film.

The origin of the quote is this from a late 19th/early 20th century American writer Finley Peter Dunne:

“As a journalist in the age of “muckraking journalism”, Dunne was aware of the power of institutions, including his own. Writing as Dooley [one of his characters Mr. Dooley expounded upon political and social issues of the day from his South Side Chicago Irish pub and he spoke with the thick verbiage and accent of an Irish immigrant from County Roscommon], Dunne once wrote the following passage mocking hypocrisy and self-importance in the newspapers themselves:

“Th newspaper does ivrything f’r us. It runs th’ polis foorce an’ th’ banks, commands th’ milishy, controls th’ ligislachure, baptizes th’ young, marries th’ foolish, comforts th’ afflicted, afflicts th’ comfortable, buries th’ dead an’ roasts thim aftherward”. “

2 thoughts on “Newspapers – I love this definition of their ‘duty’ in a free society

  1. Fran Rogers says:

    Ha Ha spot on great quote. Talking of media how about a link on your web page for Maghull radio a great local station with loads of local info.

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