Bogus News

Lynn Weekly Reporter, June 1, 1861

It has come to be an established habit with some Boston papers to originate—or at least to print—some startling rumor, bearing all the semblance of truth, in the Saturday editions of their papers, and then flood the community with "extras" giving pretended details of some great battle or important movement. That trick was "tried on" to perfection in this city, last Saturday afternoon, when three or four editions of one of the Boston papers were sent down, each pretending to give some new particular of "the great fight at Alexandria." And not only is this done on week days, but the Sabbath is desecrated in a similar way, by a smaller fry of newspaper vampyres, who suck their very existence out of the people by taking advantage of their desire for news. A fortnight ago copies of a well known Boston Sunday paper were hawked about from house to house, and many copies were sold by the boy peddler, upon the strength of his statement that it contained "all about the first fight in Virginia," which proved to be nothing more than two days' old telegraphic news enlarged upon by the imaginative editor. Last Sunday the same game was played in a new form, and a story, made out of whole cloth, was told about the capture of Sewall's Point battery and the loss of a large number of lives. There is little doubt, we think, that this was known to be a lie when it was printed in Boston, for it had been printed twenty-four hours previously in New York, and was subsequently denied there. We have this much to say—that if newspaper publishers have no better business than to manufacture and publish bogus news, either by way of a "joke," or for the sake of putting pence in their pockets, they had better shut up their offices and leave their duties to men whose moral sensibilities are not so blunted, and who are not wholly lost to every sense of decency and right. The only way the public has to protect itself against such villainy is to refuse to buy their trash, and beware of all the sensation extras; and if to-morrow morning their doors are besieged by somebody beseeching them to buy the Sunday Humbug, with "full particulars of the last great fight at Skunk's Hollow," they will save their money and their feelings by at once saying no. The community should frown on such attempts at imposition.