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JOURNALISM IN NEW-YORK.*
size of New-York, and would seem sufficiently great to satisfy our wants and to deter capitalists from embarking in rival speculations. New-York, including Brooklyn and one or two other suburbs, is inferior in size to three of the European capitals, London, Paris, or Constantinople. We might therefore be contented if we did not support as many daily journals as either of the two first-mentioned cities. Yet we find that our newspapers, aided by their new reinforcement, actually outnumber those of Paris or London, or indeed of any other city of the world. And having already so many, we are far from supposing that we shall have no more.
THE appearance of three new dailies in one month in this city is sufficient to dispel all doubts as to the enterprise of New-York publishers or the capacity of New-York readers. If the establishment of newspapers depended solely on literary men, we should not be surprised at witnessing a much greater number of these too fascinating enterprises than exist among us at present. Writers as a class have not usually very much to lose. They are not particularly distinguished for a distaste to running in debt. They are not given to the calculation of probabilities in the matter of profit and loss, and are always ready for new schemes that may happen to consort with their ambition for fame or their desire of filling The gentlemen who are severally contheir pockets. But men of capital-and nected with the Times, the Verdict, and the publishers now-a-days cannot be otherwise National Democrat, have probably very are more chary of their fortunes, and calcu- good grounds for assuming their present late before they embark in any new enter- responsibilities. We take pleasure in recogprise how much they may expect to "realize" nizing most of them, and we speak more from their venture. With them the "uncer- particularly at present of the business departtainty of human affairs" is ever a living text, ment, as old hands at getting up newsand their general sagacity and good sense papers; and we feel sure that they would sufficiently indicate the training which a not have committed themselves to their firm disbelief in what is commonly called recent undertakings without first sitting "good luck" has given them. We must down and counting the cost. They cannot admit, therefore, that the sudden production have been deceived by false estimates, or by of three cheap daily papers in a city which unfounded advice from interested parties. we had imagined overstocked with journals, They cannot be supposed to be ignorant of somewhat startled our confidence in the the public pulse, or of the vexatious contradiscernment of New-York publishers. Our riety of opinions and difficulty of tastes established prints already form a portly among the readers who are to furnish the catalogue. Of commercial sheets we have ultimate means for the support of their the Journal of Commerce, senior and junior, journals. We are certain, therefore, that the Courier and Enquirer, the Evening Post, having allowed for all necessary and conand the Commercial Advertiser; among tingent expenses, they confidently reckon on their cheaper and more popular brotherhood, paying all claims and dividing fair profits. the Express, the Tribune, the Herald, the No one will deny, in view of their enterDay Book, the Mirror, the Sun, the Morn-prise and their reliance on themselves and ing Star, and the New-Yorker; the three latter distributed at the low rate of one cent each. This, it will be seen, is a very large number of daily journals for a city of the
The National Democrat.
the public, that they merit the success which they assure us they anticipate.
Taking it into consideration that these new papers are published on the cheap
New-York, September, 1851.
plan; and that one of them in particular, the energy that had hitherto sustained them } with an amount of reading matter inferior seemed to be deprived of its ultimate deonly to that of two other New-York daily pendence. We cannot be accused, then, of journals, is afforded at one cent a copy; looking at these new enterprises with a disand that to obtain a remunerating circula- couraging aspect if we respond to the sentition they must from the outset be equal at ments of distrust and solicitude which, in least to their rivals in point of news and spite of their bold and cheerful tone, display literary merit; we cannot but see that they themselves in the prefatory remarks of their are surrounded by very imposing difficulties. conducters, and confess an anxious interest There is, indeed, no city out of the United in their fate. And should any of them fail States in which the publication of a news- to survive the year of their birth, we shall paper is attended with so small a tax-ex- attribute such misfortune rather to an inevipense from government, or in which the table opposition of circumstances than to a inhabitants are such general readers, as the want of honest endeavor or of faithful study city of New-York. Yet nowhere else does of popular needs. competition reduce the price of newspapers to so low a mark, or dictate so high a standard of literary excellence. The cost necessary to furnish one of our journals with early telegraphic intelligence, authentic correspondence from points of interest, full and reliable mails, and with that style of editorial writing which our improved taste begins to demand, is in itself immense, and seems to one who has never been at the pains to estimate its several items, positively overwhelming. And this aggregation of expense constitutes but one drawback from profits. Paper and ink may indeed be purchased at low rates, but rooms sufficiently large to accommodate the many fixtures of a newspaper are not to be procured in the heart of a city without the payment of a heavy rent, and printers will not be satisfied without they receive pretty nearly the value of their services. Reporters and editors must be paid, punctually, if not liberally. Gentlemen of the press are not noted for economy, and generally live so close to their incomes that temporary suspensions of payments involve them in the most disagreeable embarrassments. Their claims at all events must be attended to, even if those of the paper merchant or the stockholders in the concern are suffered to lie over. And if returns come in but slowly-and when at the establishment of a new journal were they known to do otherwise?-there must be a capacious reserve fund to meet expenses. In the history of every journal now prominently before the public there have been times when the most gloomy forebodings were rationally indulged by its proprietors; when the hopes they had entertained of the responses of public sympathy seemed illusive and of doubtful realization; and when
The press of New-York, whose recent enlargement we have thus chronicled, although it shares many of its characteristics with that of other cities and of the country at large, constitutes, from various causes, a subject of peculiar interest. Perhaps among the least of these may be noticed the especial consideration it enjoys abroad-a consideration which we have sometimes been puzzled fully to account for. As NewYorkers, although by no means unconscious of our advantages or our importance, we are certainly mindful of the existence of other cities near our own, but little inferior in point of size, possessing equal facilities of education and popular improvement, lying equally open to commerce and to foreign investigation, and equally distinguished for cultivation of pure literature and the arts. We do not forget that in this country circumstances render it impossible for any one city to be the focus of the intellect of all, or to monopolize the materials of any department of literary activity. A central capital and a jealous regard on the part of our rising cities for their own rights and reputation, combine to prevent the largest commercial emporium of America from ever assuming that position as a dispenser of intelligence, and an authority for opinion, which is so unhesitatingly and ungrudgingly accorded to London by sister cities. For our own part we are content to regard ourselves as but one among many, and to prefer an exclusive claim to nothing which we cannot prove to be peculiarly our own. But when the foreign press has occasion to speak of American journalism, it invariably selects that of New-York as the representative of the whole, and according to the current tone of our own prominent sheets draws conclu
Joration in New-York.
dona favorable or unknorable to the glit
men of this generalization,
“It will not do, after this," says the reviewer,
enntained in the above extract we have, of elare, petling to do. But its sentimens are precisely like those of the entire foreig press. It acres us, as a nation of a proclivity to political and social recklesstess from which we are, to say the least, as free as most of our neighbors; and ascribes to New-York newspapers an influence to which their vanity, even in its most inflated mood. can hardly lay claim. And we of other cities, and the nation at large, nct that the New-York press is imitated by that in its literary excellence, or its enterprise, or its range of information, but in that lawless ness and grossness from which it has not at all times been exempt. We are given to understand that New-York is the centre of criminality for the United States, and that its journals are the radiations by which its evil influences extend to all parts of the Union. We think differently. We think that the newspapers of New-York maintain the larger share of that influence which they Their may possess throughout the country, through the commercial and industrial power of the metropolis whence they emanate. ability, the good sense and the good writing ty for which we must give them especial which their columns contain, and the sagaci"If we are asked whether we suppose it possiBut their occasional ble to check the further advances of the democratic credit, are also not without weight in comtendency in the United States, we answer, No; but mending them to the careful notice of all that most possible and practicable it would be, by American readers. a very different course from that which is now pur- derelictions from political honesty or persued, to guide, to elevate, to redeem it, to conduct sonal candor do not meet with that general it to a noble and enduring destiny. As it is, every thing swells the forces of society in one direction, sympathy which our national enemies might against which not a single effective stand is made wish to see. Many of the severest lectures in any one quarter. In this state of things the they have received have been read them by New York Herald' made its appearance, some the country press. Many of the sharpest eight or nine years ago, and found society thor- criticisms to which their sentiments have oughly prepared for its career of infamous success. In one immense division, utter recklessness; in the been subjected have proceeded from jourother, where safety lay, utter indifference. And nals in other cities, or in the interior. And what a lesson for some present resistance against so well are their opinions sifted before they dangers still to come, is embodied in the past are received into the creed of our citizens, course and influence of this terrible foe to decency and order! All those vices of the republic which that it is a little surprising they should so should have been gradually wearing away-the entirely represent the nation abroad. For prying, inquisitive, unwholesome growth of a young we are safe in saying that one half of inteland prematurely forced society-have been pam-ligent Englishmen and Frenchmen who read pered and bloated to increased enormity. For as their own papers imagine, from the origin rapidly as vermin, the 'Herald' nothing breeds so brood, within this brief space of years, has almost of the transatlantic extracts therein concovered the land. We are told, and we can well tained, that New-York is to the United believe it, that the 'Herald' has imitators and States what London is to England, or Paris This may pass for what it is to France. worthy disciples in very nearly every small village, town, or city in America. It seems at first incredible that no strong effort should have been worth, as a tribute to our metropolitan made to resist all this, but a little reflection ex- vanity. plains the cause."
If it were not that the cheapness of
reckon the quantity of editorial matter at 14,400 words, equal to eighteen pages of this Review. The remainder of the original matter, consisting of correspondence, reports, and financial intelligence, swells the amount to upwards of 24,000 words, equal to thirty pages of this Review. When we consider that this quantity of matter is renewed daily, and can never be suffered to decrease; that its preparation requires the constant services of a large force of sub-editors and reporters, who must be fairly remunerated for their labor; that the quality of what is written must never fall below a standard which the taste of those readers at whose patronage a first-class paper should aim has already set very high; and that the white paper on which it is printed costs about two thirds of a cent; we cannot but think that the science of newspaper production has been pretty faithfully studied. How large a circulation will justify this extreme cheapness we have no means of accurately deterinining, but we think it must at least equal twenty thousand copies. The Times probably reckons on thirty or forty thousand subscribers, and we do not see how it can divide fair profits on its invested capital with a less number.
surprise at home, we should be disposed to indulge in a few paragraphs of admiration at the quantity and quality of reading matter which we purchase for two cents in a copy of the Tribune, or in the frequent double sheet of the Herald, or for one cent in a copy of the Times. We dare say this cheapness is to be easily and satisfactorily accounted for. The Times is an experiment; but as its proprietors know very well what they are doing, we see no reason why we may not speak of it as a fixed fact in New-York journalism, and rank it among the profitable sheets we have just mentioned. These papers have, then, in the first place, an immense circulation. The daily issue of the Tribune is about twenty thousand copies, and that of the Herald often equals twentyfive or thirty thousand. The Times, at its present low rates of subscription, may confidently reckon on an equal, and perhaps a greater circulation. One great element of cheapness, a wide sale of the manufactured article, is thus attained. Printing machinery has been brought to a degree of perfection which leaves us almost nothing to hope for, so long as we doubt the possibility of obviating friction, or of discovering a more economical motive-power than steam. The labor of the composing and the press-room The Tribune and the double-sheet Herald has been systematized, until human fingers each consist of eight six-columned pages. have arrived at their ultimate capabilities. Five of these pages are filled with reading The philosophy of advertising has been in-matter, by far the largest part of which is geniously pushed to its ripest development. editorial and correspondence. The price of Editors and sub-editors have probably learned to compose sentences as rapidly as their fingers will transcribe them. All this facilitates economy, and goes very far towards doing away with what might otherwise seem an inexplicable wonder.
A page of the Times is made up of six columns, each column containing one hundred and sixty-five lines of leaded type, or two hundred and ten lines of close type, or two hundred and fifty lines of newspaper minion. Of the twenty-four columns of the paper, from eighteen to twenty are filled with reading matter, two thirds of which is editorial, consisting of articles on political subjects and current affairs, reviews of new books, "city items," and condensed paragraphs from the mails. A leaded column of the Times contains over twelve hundred words; and as much of its editorial is printed in smaller type than that on which we have based our estimate, we can safely
these sheets is two cents each, and the paper on which either of them is printed cannot cost less than one and a quarter cents. They are each liberal pay-masters to all in their employ, and afford handsome remuneration for accepted contributions. The number of advertisements in each by no means equals that of any one of several other city journals, while their subscription prices are much lower; yet such is the largeness of their circulation, that they are yielding what may seem to some enormous profits. It was stated a few months since, on as good authority as financial gossip can ever lay claim to, that the dividend of the Tribune for the past year was over seventy thousand dollars.
We have mentioned these examples of cheap journals in New-York, not for the purpose of comparing them with journals in other countries, beyond all of which they are vastly cheaper, but simply because they
are the most complete triumphs of capital | sober verity we mourned over the death of and skill which we have thus far witnessed the Globe, for it was a very well-disposed, in the history of the American press. well-conducted sheet, and seemed killed Leaving their qualities out of view, of which more by fatality than by bad management. indeed it would be invidious to speak, in the It was very much better than any of its prematter of cheapness they are without rivals decessors, and died much harder; and as its in our largest cities after New-York-Phila- successor is decidedly better than all, we delphia, Boston and New-Orleans; and we hope it may hold on to life with more teneed hardly say, in the country at large. nacity. We like the tone in which the ediThe wonder they excite abroad is perfectly tor of the National Democrat speaks of his natural. The Londoner who pays five pence paper, and the causes of the ill success of for a copy of the Times may well be sur- its forerunners :prised at seeing the Tribune, containing nine tenths the quantity of reading matter of his favorite journal, sold for a penny. And his surprise is all the greater because he has all along regarded its more costly neighbors, such as the Courier and Enquirer and Journal of Commerce, as prodigies of cheapness-papers which most of our citizens would think it decidedly extravagant to buy.
A singular feature in the journalism of New-York is its political complexion. Most of our readers know that the two great parties are about evenly balanced in this city. From an acquaintance among our business men one would conclude that New-York was Whig, but the election returns show that we may safely calculate upon an equal number of ins and outs between the Whigs and Democrats. Our journals, however, would not seem to indicate this. Whig sheets crowd upon us as we write their names— the Courier and Enquirer, the Tribune, the Express, the Commercial Advertiser, and others; but until the appearance of our latest acquisition, the National Democrat, the Evening Post has represented the entire Democratic press of the city. As may be readily supposed, this state of things has not been quietly suffered, and numerous attempts have been made from time to time by our Democratic friends to establish a journal around which, to use their favorite expression, "the masses might rally." Singularly enough in the history of a party that polls votes in this city by tens of thousands, these attempts, although backed, as we have reason to know, by a good deal of hard work, have uniformly been failures. Had we written this article a year ago, we should have been in time to chronicle the expiring issues of the “Globe," a Democratic paper which, after struggling for a twelvemonth, was discontinued for lack of support. In
editorials of first numbers of new papers, and es"We have had some experience in writing the pecially Democratic papers in this city. If they have failed, after we left them, to make their appearance daily, the fault was not ours. We never had any charge of them when it became necessary to write their valedictory; nor have we ever mourned over their exit. They often did more good by dying than they did while living. The vitality that was in them was of that effemi
nate character that it would have been difficult to decide whether it did really belong to any active, intelligent, and living commodity.
"But our thirty-odd thousand Democrats in this city have been so long without a daily morning sheet, that they will, undoubtedly, look upon a pure specimen of the article as quite a curiosity; just to see how it looks and what it says. We intend to furnish it to them, we hope, for many years to come. We do not enter the field this time at the suggestion of others, having no care except to receive a certain number of dollars and cents for what we contribute to the columns of our journal. We wish to try the experiment with a view of ascertaining whether it is not possible to build up a permanent Democratic daily morning sheet in this great metropolitan city. Many are complish this. This we have not got, nor do we of opinion that it requires a large capital to acexpect to have. But we believe there is enterprise and means enough among our Democracy to give our project a fair trial. The majority of our city population is Democratic; the majority of the people of the Union is Democratic; and so is the majority of the people of this State. When it is asserted that they will not support a well-conducted journal that advocates pure Democratic doctrine, a stigma is cast upon the intelligence and our object to prove that this disparaging assertion liberality of the Democratic party. It will be is untrue. We will labor with energy and zeal in our new vocation.
and will at least introduce it into their families
"It cannot be denied that every Democratic journal which has been started of late years in this city has lingered out a brief and sickly existence, and then yielded up the ghost, without even a natural spasmodic struggle to prolong its life, and without much seeming disappointment party to whose service its columns had been deon the part of the proprietors, or regret of the voted, as the exponent of their principles. So common has been the failure of Democratic