Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

"All the News That's Fit to Print" - et Cetera

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

"All the News That's Fit to Print" - et Cetera

Article excerpt

I've long appreciated the message implied in the famous New York Times slogan "All the News That's Fit to Print." It seems to me an elegant expression of the high standards set by the Times and it suggests that other papers are probably publishing news that's not fit to print. It does what a slogan is supposed to do (at least according to my Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary) - characterizes a stand or goal to be achieved as well as performing as a brief attention-getting phrase used in promotion. From time to time I've wondered about what sorts of slogans other papers use and if they suggested themes which could be categorized in a meaningful way.

On a Sunday in June, 1996 I visited Hotaling's News Agency, which is located at 142 West 42nd Street in New York City. Hotaling's claims to carry more than 200 out-of-town newspapers. My plan was to write down the slogans found on the front pages of those newspapers and to see if I could logically categorize them. Unfortunately, my data gathering objective became problematic because the newspapers are located behind a counter which is not accessible to the public. Fortunately Stephen Harris of Hotaling's agreed, in between serving customers, to hand me copies of the various papers to look at. I chose to record front page slogans, rather than those on the editorial page, because I think front page slogans declare a message that is meant for everyone rather than just buyers of the newspaper.

I was able, in approximately two hours, to review the front pages from well over a hundred newspapers and, though many of them have no slogan, I was able to record over 50 from those that do. I have used 34 of these slogans in this article (I omitted using the others because they were duplicative). After scrutinizing my collected slogans I formulated seven categories which I believe indicate particular themes. I will briefly discuss each category and offer relevant examples at the end of each discussion. I have used slogans only from American newspapers (with one exception that can be found at the end of the article).

I. Big is Better

In a capitalist-oriented economy it is almost axiomatic that bigger is better. The very fact your organization is large bespeaks a certain level of success. I believe some additional inferences contained in the newspaper slogans below are: because we're big we have more staff to bring you more news; lots of people obviously find something they like in our paper (fifty million Frenchmen can't be wrong); we' re influential; we're trustworthy (if we weren't we wouldn't have such a large readership). My favorite slogan in this group is the one from the Cincinnati Enquirer. Do they really have 501,100 readers?

Slogans

* USA Today - "No. 1 in the USA ... First in Daily Readers"

* The Cincinnati Enquirer - "A Gannett Newspaper - 501,100 Readers Daily"

* The Seattle Times - "Washington's Largest Newspaper"

* Cleveland Plain-Dealer - "Ohio's Largest Newspaper"

* The State (Columbia) - "South Carolina's Largest Newspaper"

II. We Have Experience

I could have included many other examples in this well represented category. Newspapers that have been around awhile are proud of their longevity. This is probably even truer today since the newspaper business is "downsizing" and many papers are either going out of business or merging. It can be inferred that newspapers that have been around a long time are delivering a "tried and true" service. I found interesting the slogan distinction between The Augusta Chronicle and The Post and Courier.

Slogans

* The Augusta Chronicle (Georgia) - "The South's Oldest Paper"

* The Post and Courier (Charleston, South Carolina) - "The South's Oldest Daily Newspaper"

* The Daily Oklahoman - "The State Newspaper Since 1907"

* St. Paul Pioneer Press - "Minnesota's First Newspaper"

* Mobile Registerm "Alabama's Oldest Newspaper"

III. …

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