Thoreau: A 19th-century View of Contemporary Journalism

Thoreau spent his life pursuing the ‘hard bottom’ of truth. But he confronted a sensationalist newspaper industry that, in many ways, mimicked today’s media environment.

It’s not just Walden Pond, perhaps the most famous work of Henry David Thoreau; it’s that his internal purpose seems much the same as mine. In the following article from The Conversation US written by the Mark Canada, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Indiana University, I find common ground in principle with this famous writer who emerged circa 1840s.

The media landscape of the 1840s and 1850s was similar to the one we see today: pervasive, influential and sometimes questionable – in both taste and credibility.

In 1854, in a lengthy article which he presented at an anti-slavery meeting on July 4 in Framingham, Massachusetts, he wrote (among many other things),

Will mankind never learn that policy is not morality– that it never secures any moral right, but considers merely what is expedient? chooses the available candidate– who is invariably the Devil– and what right have his constituents to be surprised, because the Devil does not behave like an angel of light?

So we see Mr. Thoreau was more than the contemplative naturalist of Walden Pond. He was an outspoken, sometimes troubled pontificator of truth.

These are things I think about when walking alone in the beautiful landscapes of North Idaho properties like Flying Arrow Waterfront and the Sundance Estate.

Source: Henry David Thoreau’s views of 19th-century media resonate today

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