John Swinton

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Person.png John Swinton   SpartacusRdf-icon.png
(journalist, editor)
Born12 December 1830
Saltoun, Scotland
Died15 December 1901 (Age 71)

John Swinton, the former Chief Editorial writer for the New York Times, was a popular New York newspapermen. Called by his peers "The Dean of his Profession", John was asked in 1880 to give a toast before the New York Press Club, and in so doing, made a monumentally important and revealing statement. He is quoted as follows:

“There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar weekly salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities, and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”
John Swinton (1880)  [1]

12 December 1830|15 December 1901|