Letters and Politics

The Rose Man of Sing Sing

James McGrath Morris is a former journalist, historian, and author of several books including The Rose Man of Sing Sing: A True Tale of Life, Murder, and Redemption in the Age of Yellow Journalism, and Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press.

Today we often bemoan the 24 hour news cycle and its emphasis on “getting it first” over “getting it right.” We are quick to blame big television news networks and the internet for the state of affairs, though the practice harks back to over a century ago, when the city editors of the biggest New York newspapers were in fierce competition for readers. It was a time before radio, when technological innovations for sending words over wires, like telephones and Morse code, revolutionized the news and the job of journalism. Beat reporters walked the streets and called in their copy to the rewrite desk, dozens of newspapers published up to nine times a day, and Charles Chapin, City Editor of Joseph Pulitzer’s the Evening World, presided over it all.



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