The Brief and Happy Life of the Atlantic Charter

Gretta Palmer, May 1948

Newpapermen are humble people. Set them down with novelists and playwrights and they yield the place of honor to "creative" writers. Throw them in the company of historians and they defer to "scholarship." Even in the company of politicians, of whose murkiest secrets they are usually aware, they are inclined towards meekness, for politicians "make events."

But in the modern world, history's broadest stage is the front page of the American newspaper. What appears there, to the American spectator, IS history in the making. He relies, with a great and unthinking trust, upon his editor to call to his attention any matter throughout the world in which his citizen's honor or his interest is involved. He will become generously exercised over foreign countries' plights - Palestine, Iran, Poland - when his emotions have received the signal, in 72-point type, to go ahead. He will form committees and telegraph Congress out of pity for some people being put upon five thousand miles away. But first he must be told.

Sometimes he is not told. Sometimes great and tragic events occur with no correspondents at hand or no telegraphic communications for them to use. Then history turns out quite differently. The public opinion, cut off from its sources, ceases to be a factor with which men in power must reckon. Then dark little deals are quietly made, with nobody the wiser. Then men who died for an ideal lose the place they have rightly earned in history, because their martyrdom lacked witnesses. Then the lack of newspapermen on the spot becomes the cause of a whole series of unnecessary deaths and avoidable treacheries.

More coming soon....