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JAMA 100 Years Ago
October 26, 2005


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2005;294(16):2105. doi:10.1001/jama.294.16.2105-a

The newspapers of the country, as a class, are sufficiently true to the responsibilities of their position in directing the thoughts of the people to make the flagrant exceptions which are frequently noticed to stand out in most unwholesome prominence. Two medical pretenders in Des Moines were allowed to purchase space in the Des Moines newspapers and nothing was published about them except in their approval. The editor of the Iowa Medical Journal1 inquired of a reporter why the arrest of these men on the charge of fraud was not mentioned, and was told that it had been “overlooked.” He went to the city editor of the largest daily paper in Des Moines with some facts concerning the case; he was cordially received and was assured that the facts would be published, and that the news columns were not influenced in any way by the advertising department. The next morning not one word appeared in the paper concerning the arrest and trial. On the contrary, there appeared a column article, presumably written by the offenders, and derogatory to the profession of Des Moines. Later, when the courts decided against the fraudulent practitioners, thus putting an end to the possibility of a money income for advertising, the daily press had plenty to say about the “victory achieved in interest of good government,” etc. This is one of the glaring offenses against honesty which tend to make the careful reader doubt almost every statement in such a paper. But the newspaper which allows the character of its contents to be influenced by pecuniary considerations is not alone to blame. The public which continues to read such a paper must bear a part of the responsibility.

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