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James Gordon Bennett

He Emancipated the American Press
from Sects, Parties and Cliques

James Gordon Bennett was one of the giants and great initiators in American journalism. A competitor, the New York Sun, said at his death, "He emancipated the press from the domination of sects, parties, and cliques." ■ Bennett was born near Keith in Banffshire, Scotland, September 1, 1795. In his early 20s he emigrated to Nova Scotia where he taught briefly before moving to Boston. There he was employed by a book publisher. He became interested in journalism and worked for several newspapers. In 1835 he launched the New York Herald, which was to make him famous. ■ He was soon to change American newspaper style. Up to that time newspapers were journals of opinion allied with special interests. He emphasized fact over opinion and instructed his reporters to search out the truth regardless of whom it might hurt. ■ His newspaper attacked fraudulent schemes and was particularly merciless in exposing shady financial deals in money markets. The outgrowth was a newspaper financial section. ■ Bennett's critical pugnacious style made him many enemies, and he suffered several bruising personal attacks in the streets that frightened his wife. He wrote in a breezy brassy style that multiplied readers. He sensed the importance to America of world events, so he stationed correspondents in the important cities of the world. Bennett introduced the practice of covering public meetings and interviewing principals in news events. He was the first to use the telegraph to communicate news, and he introduced newspaper distribution by carrier boy. ■ His flair for originality increased the circulation and influence of the newspaper. At his death June 1, 1872, his New York Herald was the most valuable newspaper in America.

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546