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Journalism for Women A Practical Guide   By: (1867-1931)

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Journalism for Women

A Practical Guide

By E.A. Bennett


The Secret Significance of Journalism Imperfections of the existing Woman Journalist The Roads towards Journalism The Aspirant Style The Outside Contributor The Search for Copy The Art of Corresponding with an Editor Notes on the Leading Types of Papers "Woman's Sphere" in Journalism Conclusion

Journalism for Women

A Practical Guide

Chapter I

The Secret Significance of Journalism

For the majority of people the earth is a dull planet.

It is only a Stevenson who can say: "I never remember being bored;" and one may fairly doubt whether even Stevenson uttered truth when he made that extraordinary statement. None of us escapes boredom entirely: some of us, indeed, are bored during the greater part of our lives. The fact is unpalatable, but it is a fact. Each thinks that his existence is surrounded and hemmed in by the Ordinary; that his vocations and pastimes are utterly commonplace; his friends prosaic; even his sorrows sordid. We are (a few will say) colour blind to the rainbow tints of life, and we see everything grey, or perhaps blue. We feel instinctively that if there is such a thing as romance, it contrives to exhibit itself just where we are not. Often we go in search of it (as a man will follow a fire engine) to the Continent, to the Soudan, to the East End, to the Divorce Court; but the chances are a hundred to one against our finding it. The reason of our failure lies in our firm though unacknowledged conviction that the events we have witnessed, the persons we have known, are ipso facto less romantic, less diverting, than certain other events which we happen not to have witnessed, certain other persons whom we happen not to have known. And such is indubitably the case; for romance, interest, dwell not in the thing seen, but in the eye of the beholder. And so the earth is a dull planet for the majority.

Yet there are exceptions: the most numerous exceptions are lovers and journalists. A lover is one who deludes himself; a journalist is one who deludes himself and other people. The born journalist comes into the world with the fixed notion that nothing under the sun is uninteresting. He says: "I cannot pass along the street, or cut my finger, or marry, or catch a cold or a fish, or go to church, or perform any act whatever, without being impressed anew by the interestingness of mundane phenomena, and without experiencing a desire to share this impression with my fellow creatures." His notions about the qualities of mundane phenomena, are, as the majority knows too well, a pathetic, gigantic fallacy, but to him they are real, and he is so possessed by them that he must continually be striving to impart them to the public at large. If he can compel the public, in spite of its instincts, to share his delusions even partially, even for an hour, then he has reached success and he is in the way to grow rich and happy.

We come to the secret significance of journalism:

Life (says the public) is dull. But good newspapers are a report of life, and good newspapers are not dull.

Therefore, journalism is an art: it is the art of lending to people and events intrinsically dull an interest which does not properly belong to them.

This is a profound truth. If anyone doubts it, let him listen to a debate in the House of Commons, and compare the impressions of the evening with the impressions furnished by the parliamentary sketch in his daily paper the next morning. The difference will be little less than miraculous. Yet the bored observer of the previous night will find in the printed article no discrepancies, no insidious departures from sober fact; and as he reads it, the conviction will grow upon him that his own impressions were wrong, and that after all a debate in the House of Commons is a remarkably amusing and delightful entertainment. If the newspapers ceased to report the proceedings of Parliament, the uncomfortable benches of the Strangers' Gallery would for ever remain empty, simply because the delusion which now fills them nightly during the session would die for lack of sustenance... Continue reading book >>

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