ERIC Number: ED235483
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Horace Greeley and the Newspaper Forum Function: A New Source for the Social Responsibility Theory.
Bovee, Warren G.
The social responsibility theory of the press is usually considered to be a twentieth century development. According to this theory, one of the five major missions of mass communications is to raise social conflict from the plane of violence to the place of discussion. To achieve this, the media should serve as a forum for the exchange of comment and criticism. It is this forum function that Horace Greeley recognized, prized, defended, and exemplified in the pages of his newspaper, the New York "Tribune." It is primarily as a service to his readers that he presented the various reasonable positions that might be taken on public issues. In fact, it seemed almost self-evident to Greeley, that, beyond all other reasons, simple fairness demanded presentation of all sides of an issue. Even when the openness of the "Tribune" resulted in cancelled subscriptions, Greeley clung to his ideals. In fact, Greeley developed a rationale and procedure for the newspaper forum function a century before the Commission on Freedom of the Press proposed it as one of the basic social responsibilities of the mass media. The Greeley forum may have been even more liberal than the one envisioned by the commission, for he gave much more emphasis to the desirability of having opposing views expressed in the very words of their adherents. Those with an interest in the social responsibility theory of the press, therefore, can find in Horace Greeley a historical source and a role model that have been far too long overlooked. (HOD)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Greeley (Horace); Journalism History
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (66th, Corvallis, OR, August 6-9, 1983).