Friday, March 23, 2012

Who was Arthur Brisbane?
Monument at 5th Avenue and E. 101st Street

"Arthur Brisbane 1864-1936
American Editor and Patriot 
He spread before all a panorama of the events of his times. He was the champion of work and peace before all mankind. He gave to the people a clear understanding of the history of all the ages. He imparted to millions an appreciation and love of the literature, art and religion which have ennobled the world."

I think these are rather nice things to have said about you, no?  To help others make sense of history, to "ennoble the world" by imparting a love of literature, art and religion.  Good stuff.

Cursory research on Mr. Brisbane revealed he was a 'yellow' journalist, at least early in his career.  One particularly troubling incident suggests an editorial of Mr. Brisbane's may have - in some sense - suggested or encouraged the assassination of President McKinley.  A cautionary tale on the power of words, and our responsibility to speak carefully.

Apparently Mr. Brisbane went on to use his journalistic powers for good - muckraking on behalf of progressive causes to improve working conditions and expose political corruption.

The newspaper business seems to have remained in the family: Mr. Brisbane's grandson, Arthur S. Brisbane, currently serves as the Public Editor of the New York Times.  Interestingly enough, the younger Mr. Brisbane recently received some flak for an article he wrote, regarding fact-checking and truth-telling in journalism.

Some parting quotes, from the elder Brisbane:
"Get away from the crowd when you can. Keep yourself to yourself, if only for a few hours daily." 
"A good friend can tell you what is the matter with you in a minute. He may not seem such a good friend after telling." 

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