The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Saturday, June 05, 2004

How things change at the New York Times

Serendipitously, I find a fine old insult from the Gray Lady of old.

According to this,
the New York Times, using methods considered unimpeachable at the time, concluded that Ida Wells was a "nasty mulatress wench."

Wells was, amongst other things, a pioneer in litigating Jim Crow laws, in the post-Reconstruction period.

Quite what Wells did to ruffle the Times' feathers is not revealed.


The quote, I surmise, comes from a book by J-prof David Mindich called Just the Facts: How Objectivity Came to Define American Journalism - reviewed by the CSM in 1998.

The book looks at American journalism towards the end of the 19th century; and, relevantly,
Toward the end of his book, he includes a brilliant chapter on newspaper coverage of lynchings of African-Americans. It took Ida Wells, one of very few African-American woman in journalism at the time, to expose the lies embedded in the supposedly objective coverage of these murders.

How did the Times of that era characterise lynchings, I wonder?


Also a short review of Politics and the American Press: The Rise of Objectivity, 1865–1920 by Richard Kaplan - Mindich is mentioned.

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