Early Power of the Press to Pave a New Path
During the early part of the nineteenth century, student journalists at Arkansas and elsewhere tended to write stories in a literary style rather than in the more pragamatic news style adopted by mid-century. Like most journalists of the time, University Weekly reporters tended to write stories in chronological order rather than present facts in order of importance. The latter form, known as an inverted pyramid style of news writing, would not be deployed extensively until a journalism department at the university in 1930.
The literary style though had begun disappearing from commercial newspapers by the 1920s. An English newspaperman who spoke to The Weekly’s staff in 1918, Guy Manners, commented on the descent of newspapers from literary quality to “cold blooded businesses.” He told the staff members that “one of the cleanest and sweetest games is to play the newspaper game” but that a journalist should never let his imagination play when writing a story, “for the newspaper is the molder and maker of public opinion.”14
An early editor of The Weekly evidently had already learned that lesson. After successfully editorializing in favor of the city paving crossings at such places “as that mud hole just west of the Frisco Drug Store,” W.J. Jernigan took some space to congratulate The Weekly on its work:
And now, O happy thought, where once the mud caused us to say wicked words there is a new cement walk, where once the mud bubbled up around our chin now we pass, like the Children of Israel through the Red Sea, dry-shod. Is this the Power of the Press? Well rather. The office boy will remain in the editorial sanctum all day tomorrow to receive the congratulations of our fellow students.
The University Weekly, February 21, 1918.
Ibid., January 13, 1908.