The Candidates and I
I HAVE been reading a book called Candidates 1960 edited by Eric Sevareid and published by Basic Books, and it has activated two old prejudices, the one against newspaper journalism and the one against voting. (Actually they aren’t prejudices at all but reasoned conclusions based on experience.)
To take the more important one first: I have long been puzzled by the mystique that surrounds newspaper writing. People -especially newspapermen or, even more especially, ex-newspapermen-talk as if it were a craft practiced by a glamorous few who happen to be endowed with arcane skills. But in fact, anyone of normal intelligence can write a news story-I often wonder what they teach in those journalism schools, must be like learning to tie one’s shoelaces. No special literary or mental qualities are required, since the point is not in the writing but in the mere presentation of brute facts which, since they are new, are of interest in themselves. The citizens of Athens probably didn’t worry much about the diction or the profundity of thought of the messenger who brought them news of Marathon.
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