The Century Chest Collection

Journalism One Hundred Years Hence

(Transcribed from the original)


Prophecy on the part of finite mind is a perilous undertaking at any time; and yet at the risk of exciting the sympathies or perhaps inviting the derision of those who come after me, I shall undertake here to lift the veil of the future and outline the methods of newspapermaking in vogue one hundred years hence.

"There is no new thing under the sun" – uttered some three thousand years ago – was not said of journalism. There is, in fact, always something new in journalism as we know it today. One hundred years hence there will, perhaps not be so much new as we find today, and yet the meantime will undoubtedly develop a vast amount which we do not know and are not practicing at this time.

The newspaper of one hundred years hence ought to be, and will be, I believe, a veritable paragon of accuracy, terseness and comprehensiveness. The progress of the past half-century in this line inspires the belief that another hundred-years' effort will witness the fruition of our fondest hopes in the production of newspapers which will lay before the reading public every event of general interest occurring in the remotest corner of the world, tersely told and with absolute fidelity to the facts.
Our schools of journalism, now being so numerously founded and endowed, will contribute in no small degree toward this end, though not in the same degree as the ever present and insistent demand for newspapers of this character. And yet the best newspapermen then, as now, will be born, not made.

It would be vain to speculate upon the policies generally pursued save in a very limited way, for policies then, as now, will be formulated in conformity with the needs of the people, as revealed by an additional century of enlightenment and advancement. In my judgement (sic) it is safe to say, however, that the successful newspaper of that time will give a great deal more attention than the newspaper of today to personal service to the reader. In addition to printing the news and discussing the public questions of the day, it will be helpful to him or her, as the case may be, in numerous ways which have not yet been more than partially developed.

Measuring the future by the past and mindful of the tremendous progress which the past century has witnessed in newspaper-making, it appears that in another hundred years we should have newspapers perfect in every detail - -  all inaccuracies of statement, typographical errors and loose style in writing eliminated. But I can scarcely expect as much; for they will still be the product of fallible hands and minds. Nevertheless I anticipate progress in every line which today seems quite out of the question because the demand exists and we are prone to ever keep striving.

R. E. Stafford
Editor "Daily Oklahoman"

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