Thursday, April 1, 2010

Too Stupendous For Comprehension

"I suppose no man ever saw Niagara for the first time without feeling disappointed. I suppose no man ever saw it the fifth time without wondering how he could ever have been so blind and stupid as to find any excuse for disappointment in the first place. I suppose that any one of nature's most celebrated wonders will always look rather insignificant to a visitor at first, but on a better acquaintance will swell and stretch out and spread abroad, until it finally grows clear beyond his grasp - becomes too stupendous for his comprehension. I know that a large house will seem to grow larger the longer one lives in it, and I also know that a woman who looks criminally homely at a first glance will often so improve upon acquaintance as to become really beautiful before the month is out."

Mark Twain, Sacramento Daily Union, Nov 16, 1866

Hey editors, remember the glory days of newspapers? Do you remember when people looked forward to reading their newspapers? Do you remember when your best writers thought of their readers as wise old friends with whom they were sharing a pipe and a conversation, not as children to be quieted? Remember Mark Twain, Ben Franklin, Ogden Nash, James Whitcomb Riley, Ambrose Bierce, and James Thurber? Remember Nellie Bly and Ernie Pyle? Do you want to stop your circulation numbers from falling through the press-room floor? You won't do it by printing the same old poorly written supercilious tripe that can be had from AP, Knight-Ridder, and Gannett.

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