newspapers have, as compared with their contemporaries in
the English language, the strong interest of great freedom
of expression. They are controlled rather by passion than
by capital. It is their joy to pounce on controlling wealth
and to take the side of the laborer against the employer.
A large proportion of the articles are signed, a custom
in striding contrast with that of the American newspaper.
. . . the new freedom of the Jews, who
in Russia had no journal in the common Yiddish, runs
in these New York papers into an emotional extreme, a license
which is apt to distort the news and to give over the editorial
pages to virulent party disputes.
Nevertheless, the Yiddish press, particularly the socialist
branch of it, is an educative element of great value in
the ghetto. It has helped essentially to extend the intellectual
horizon of the Jew beyond the boundaries of the Talmud,
and has largely displaced the rabbi in the position of teacher
of the people . . . for the first time [they] lay the news
of the world before the poor Jewish people.
The make-up of the Yiddish newspaper is in a general way
similar to that of its American contemporary. The former
is much smaller, however. . . . The staff is very limited,
consisting of a few editors, and usually, only one reporter
for the local news of the quarter. They give more space
proportionately than any American paper to pure literature
. . . and to scientific articles. The interesting feature
of these newspapers, however, consists in their rivalries
and their differences in principle.
Yiddish journalism in New York began about thirty years
ago, and continued in unimportant and unrepresentative newspapers
until about twelve years ago , when the Tageblatt,
the first daily newspaper, and the Arbeiterzeitung
(an important socialist weekly . . . ) came into existence.
The Tageblatt . . . is the most conservative, it is national
and Orthodox, and fights tooth and nail for whatever is
distinctly Jewish in customs, literature, language and religion.
It hates the reform sects in religion. . . .
Sympathetic with workingmen and not antagonistic to the
employers of the ghetto, the Tageblatt conventionally unites
all the Jewish interests it consistently can, and has admittedly
the largest circulation of any daily paper in the ghetto.
. . .
The socialist weekly, the Arbeiterzeitung, marked the beginning
of the most vital journalism of the East Side, and stood
in striking contrast to the Tageblatt. . . . The purpose
of the organizers of the Arbeiterzeitung publishing association
was to educate the people, promulgate the doctrines of socialism,
and be altogether the organ of the workman against the employer.
From the outset, beginning in 1890, the Arbeiterzeitung
was a popular and influential paper.