Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and the discussion of them, and in the long run of complex problems, the lines between right and wrong are not difficult to follow. And I am glad to say that from the newspaper point of view, these lines seem to be more clearly discerned than ever before, not alone by the press, but by the people. There has been a National awakening in this country, and the newspapers have had their share of it (applause). There is a broader and franker handling of the subjects of the day. The number of wholly independent papers is constantly increasing, and the number of independent party papers is increasing still more rapidly. The uncompromising party organ will soon be a thing of the past (applause). This greater independence of the press is largely responsible for the increasing independence of the electorate. The time has come when no man's loyalty to his party can be questioned when he honestly disapproves of some legislative measure or official representative of that party. The chief function of the press is, of course, to present the news, and the news, collectively speaking, is non-partisan. A paper's advertising is non-partisan. If it is the right sort of paper, its circulation is largely non-partisan. And with equal freedom in its editorial policy, a newspaper, especially the big resourceful paper with an efficient and somewhat specialized staff, may make of itself a sort of popular university for its readers, furnishing them with authoritative information, whether obvious in the news or elucidated in the editorials, on the current life of the world. I am not one of those who believe that a newspaper should confine itself to the mere presentation of the news. That is a great and powerful function, but the paper with a vast audience, with a reputation for honesty and authority, can make of itself a constructive agency of tremendous power (applause). Also, it can make itself a destructive agency, when the public welfare demands that something should be destroyed (applause). Of course, we are a busy people, and newspapers must be prepared with reference to our limited leisure. A few papers are conducted on the theory that the public has no time to read anything but the headlines. I am not here to “knock” this class of newspaper. If they do not show a regrettable preference for the sensational or the scandalous, they serve a good purpose in the scheme of publicity. They have greatly enlarged the newspaper audience. Do not forget that. And it is the experience of those who have published this class of papers that sooner or later their readers require more conservatism. As a result there has been a tendency for some time among these papers toward a more dignified style of publication. But, as I have said, we are busy people. We have need for intelligent digests, authoritative discussions of the subjects of the day as well as news developments of those subjects. An evidence of this need is the fact that, in some of our municipal, State, and National

contests in which great issues are at stake, it is necessary, in spite of our boasted and undoubted intelligence, to reiterate salient facts day after day in order to drive them home and make them enter into the conviction of the masses (applause). Sometimes this reiteration becomes tiresome to those of quick perception or ample leisure; but it is a necessary practice on the part of a newspaper that regards itself as an instructive and constructive agency as well as news furnisher. And when a paper thus regards itself it would seem that the ideal and final policy would be one of untrammeled freedom—freedom to support the man or the measure best calculated to serve the public welfare, or to oppose the man or the measure believed to be inimical to popular well-being. A paper thus established, not as an infallible judge but as an intelligent investigator, a patriotic champion, and an enterprising and faithful agency for progress in the community that supports it. can become a tremendous factor for good—a factor that will be taken into account by all friends of the people, and must be taken into account by all enemies of the people. (Applause ) I will not presume to encroach upon the direct business of this Congress except so far as the newspaper bears a relation to it. Every newspaper publisher has a personal as well as his public share of the general interest in Conservation. The problem of procuring wood pulp at prices that will permit the continuation of the publication of newspapers at the present low rates will soon be serious unless a check is put upon the rapid decrease in the forest area. Wood pulp is made almost entirely from the spruce tree. For years the manufacturers of pulp stripped the forests with little thought of the morrow. The visible supply of pulp timber is becoming limited. Unless tree-growing comes to the rescue, it will not be long before print paper will have to be made from some other material, if a satisfactory substitute can be found, or the pulp will have to be L. Dught from other countries. I do not know whether you understand how much good timber is handled by newspaper readers. Let me give you some figures: The readers of the paper I represent handle sixty tons of it a day, taking into account the weekly edition. This is, in round numbers, 20,000 tons per year. We are already importing 20 percent of the pulp used in our paper mill. Think of it! In this great, big, new country, once almost covered with mighty forests, we find it advantageous today to import a common forest product from old Germany, where the highest standards of forest preservation and use are to be found. And this pulp, with a protective duty paid, is laid down in Kansas City for less than we have to pay for the domestic product of the same kind and quality. To make the paper for this one mill, the output of which is used exclusively by one paper, a daily average of more than one acre of spruce forest is used. It is a matter for congratulation that the press of the country has assumed a most friendly attitude toward the Conservation movement (applause). Newspapers still disagree about many things. They have their little differences on the tariff, on the currency system, on corporation regulation, on certain men and particular measures, and they do not agree as to why “Jim” Jeffries didn't come back (laughter); but I have yet to find in a single issue of any paper flat opposition to the Conservation of natural resources (applause). Gentlemen of the Conservation Congress, you have here a movement of National and irresistible sweep, a theme that will endure through successive generations—for if it does not endure the Nation ultimately must perish. The people have grasped this subject spontaneously, and they are ready to study it zealously. Few yet comprehend its scope, fewer still its diversified details; but collectively the people intuitively understand its vital significance. The country has at last awakened to its gross neglect and waste and prodigality. It has suddenly been reminded of its obligation to future generations along material lines. There is something even more appealing in this than the promptings of altruism: there is the moving sense of parental obligation, of sacred trusteeship. You are to be congratulated—you who are the fathers and prime movers of this great cause—that you have the united press of the country behind you. And not only is the press with you, but it is ready to do far more than it has been able to do thus far. This movement needs publicity— much publicity. It is new. It must be made familiar. The people must be informed in detail as to the location, the character, and the extent of their resources, and as to the means employed or proposed for the developing and fostering of those resources. The only effective means for the dissemination of this information is the press. Every year the Government spends millions of dollars on Government reports. These reports are necessary as matters of record and reference, but they are worthless for general reading. Many of the millions expended on these reports could be saved by limiting the number of copies to those that will be used and by leaving the mails unencumbered with the surplus (applause). If a part of the money thus saved were expended in the intelligent preparation of news matter pertaining to the various Government departments, giving to the people the interesting facts as they develop instead of depending on voluminous and unpopular reports for the education of the people in these matters, the work of the Government would be facilitated by popular enlightenment where it is now hampered by popular ignorance. It seems to me there is an opportunity here for the Conservation of our National revenues and our natural resources at the same time. What is needed is an intelligent publicity bureau or agent in each department and the more important subdivisions, capable of preparing, in news form, as the facts develop, the interesting and instructive features of the department's daily work. This does not mean that all the papers will use all this matter, but some of it would be used by all to whom it is offered, and all of it would be used by some papers. On the whole there would be much wider publicity than could be procured in any other way. I am not suggesting an untried experiment. Some of the bureaus at Washington have publicity departments. Those of the Agricultural Department and the Geological Survey have been measurably effective, and manufacturers and importers have found large use for the popularized consular reports. But with a single exception there has been no near approach to the possibilities of cheap and helpful publicity in any department at Washington. The exception I have in mind is the Forest Service (applause). Do you know why the country knows so much more about forest conditions and the employed and proposed measures for their improvement than it knows about irrigation, reclamation, the use of the rivers, the potentialities of water-power, or the conservation of coal or oil or minerals? It is because the Forest Service, under the direction of Mr Gifford Pinchot, established a news service of such a character that the press of the country used its output freely and without the cost of one cent to the Government other than the cost of putting the matter in form acceptable to the press. (Applause) For some reason it was proposed, a couple of years ago, to prohibit, by Congressional enactment, the continuance of this publicity. But the effort resulted only in a complete vindication of the service. It was shown that only legitimate news had been given out, and that this news had appeared in an average of 9,000,000 copies of newspapers per month. These figures were based on clippings procured through the clipping bureaus, and did not include many publications that must have escaped the clippers. Now, if it had been undertaken to place this same matter before the same number of readers through the medium of the formal and technical reports of the department, the cost would have been more than 100 times as great—and nobody would have read them. As an illustration that newspapers want more Conservation news than they are getting through regular channels: A number of publishers recently formed a special Conservation service, which they maintained in Washington, whose business it is to follow exclusively the developments of this movement. But this service cannot be made what it should be made if the Government does not cooperate in this policy of needed publicity. Considering the waste that is incurred in the publishing of Government documents that have no popular educational value, it seems well nigh preposterous that there should not be ample provision, out of a saving that could be made by cutting off this waste, for the publication of matter that the people want and the newspapers stand ready to print free of cost. It would be no more absurd for this Congress to go into executive session, bar these gentlemen of the press from its deliberations, and assume that the official report of your proceedings, which will be printed in the due course of time, would furnish sufficient publicity for the work of this convention. As it is, you have a circulation of tens of millions daily for your output. (Applause)

Chairman CLAPP-Ladies and Gentlemen: We often find a man who excels along some one line of work. The well-rounded man is thé one who studies along every line; the truly great man is the wellrounded man, the man who studies the forces which make for the conditions in which he lives. We have such a man in this city, of whom we are all justly proud; a man who long ago, in the forge of hope and courage, welded his own fate with the possibilities of the then undeveloped Northwest, and who has lived to see the prophecies born of a study of conditions mature and develop in a splendid empire. It affords me great pleasure to present to you one who will speak on the subject of “Soils and Crops, Food and Clothing”—Mr James J. Hill, of Saint Paul. (Great and prolonged applause)

Mr HILL–Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: I do not intend to take much of your time this afternoon, but I hope to bring before you some thoughts that may suggest the practical side of the subject we have to consider at this Congress. In order to make myself clearly understood and to be exact in my statements I will ask your indulgence in allowing me to read what I have to say: Every movement that affects permanently a nation's life passes through three stages. First it is the abstract idea, understood by few. Next it is the subject of agitation and earnest general discussion. Third, after it has won its way to a sure place in the national life, comes the era of practical adaptation. Mistakes and extravagances due to the enthusiasm of friends or the malice of enemies are corrected, details are fitted to actual needs, the divine idea is harnessed to the common needs of man. In this stage, which the Conservation movement has now reached, the most difficult and important work must be done. In our own history and in that of other nations we have seen this process many times repeated. Public education was an abstract idea in the time of Plato, a controversy of the Renaissance, and is still only partly realized. Back of all written records lived the man who first saw a vision of government universal, equal, free and just. But the world has not yet achieved the final adaptation of this mighty conception to man as we find him. Democracy is still in the fighting stage, Only a few years have passed since it first dawned upon a people who had reveled in plenty for a century that the richest patrimony is not proof against constant and careless waste; that a nation of spenders must take thought for its morrow or come to poverty. The first actual Conservation work of this Government was done in forestry, following the example of Furopean countries. It soon became

« AnteriorContinuar »