Back in the saddle again

Blogging is a chore. So much more fun to spit out pithy pensées @mredfellow on Twitter. Or mano-a-mano on

Just once in a while, though, I need a more meditative context.

For example, I found myself musing on a new thread:

“The rough draft of history”: what are others’ choices for classics of journalism?

Hat tip to IvoShandor (who provoked this train of thought for a grey Sunday afternoon).

The oldest version is supposedly an editorial in The State of Columbia, South Carolina, 5th December 1905:

The Educational Value of “News”

What is news today will be history tomorrow. No one would be bold enough to deny that history is one of the most essential branches of modern education, yet the proposition that the study of the news of the day is of equal value, is, indeed, but a part of the study of history, would be challenged nay many. Those who value history as a study cannot consistently, however, deny to the study of news an equal value, for it is plainly apparent that the happenings of today are but the progress of history. […]

The newspapers are making morning after morning the rough draft of history. Later, the historian will come, take down the old files, and transform the crude but sincere and accurate annals of editors and reporters into history, into literature

Perhaps better known — and more romantically-expressed — than that is George H Fitch: better known because he was syndicated by the George Matthew Adams news service across the American Mid West, and was a regular for the Saturday Evening Post. So we have:

A reporter is a young man who blocks out the first draft of history each day on a rheumatic typewriter.

That first appeared (and probably elsewhere) in the Lincoln, Nebraska, Daily Star, for 3rd July 1914.

I have a reputation among the fortnightly recycling collectors for these parts, when they are humping half-a-hundredweight of discarded newsprint each cycle. I am an addict.

But what are the truly memorable “first drafts”?

This one might qualify:


And, infamously, so might this:

Victorious presidential candidate Pres. Harry Truman jubilantly displaying erroneous CHICAGO DAILY TRIBUNE w. headline DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN which overconfident Republican editors had rushed to print on election night, standing on his campaign train platform. (Photo by W. Eugene Smith//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

A personal favourite, if more of a “second thoughts” (it was the New Yorker for 31st August, 1946), would be John Hershey’s Hiroshima, which I remember (and probably still have) in a Penguin reprint:



Today we get our “first drafts” from television, or even from Twitter. So, before the dead-tree media is laid to rest, I’m wondering:

What are the classics of the genre?


1 Comment

Filed under History, Literature,, reading

One response to “Back in the saddle again

  1. Pingback: Stamping one’s place in the world | Malcolm Redfellow's Home Service

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