Ron Rodgers explores controversy surrounding The Titanic, the NY Times and “pay for news”
Congratulations to Ron Rodgers He has just published a study in Journalism History titled “A Strange Absence of News”: The Titanic, the Times, Checkbook Journalism, and the Inquiry into the Public’s Right to Know.
The study explores the controversy around allegations that the Titanic’s surviving wireless operator and the operator aboard the rescue ship held back news detailing the disaster so they could sell their stories to The New York Times.
Those allegations and a Senate inquiry into news suppression as part of the Titanic investigation raised some of the first questions about the ethics and/or the propriety of the then-accepted practice of journalists paying for news—an early sounding defining the responsibility of the press to society that still has resonance a century later. Informing that debate in both the nation’s press and in the halls of Congress were an uncongealed journalistic news ethic in the face of rising notions of the public interest during a progressive era that saw the press as one more monied power in need of reform.