By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Pre culpa

If you tune in “Greater Boston” on Channel 2 this evening, you’ll hear me say that James Gordon Bennett, whose New York Herald, founded in 1835, was the first recognizably modern newspaper, should have been named to the Atlantic Monthly’s list of the top 100 influential Americans. In fact, he was, at No. 69. I don’t know how I missed that.

I’m sticking by my argument that Chuck Berry and Bob Dylan should have been on the list, too.

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Another blow to the Herald


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  1. Neal

    Great minds think alike Dan. Elvis at 66 and no Chuck? Come on!

  2. Anonymous

    I think the more egregious omission (perhaps showing the “print bias” of the Atlantic 🙂 is that Webster, Melville and Hemingway are on the list…but Armstrong, Marconi and Farnsworth aren’t!Gee, I guess radio and TV weren’t that much of an influence on the world?Bastards! 😛

  3. Adam

    I won’t get into who should be on the list or not, but the article itself was a joke. The Atlantic spent about 5,000 words on the panelists who chose the list, yet only about 20 words on Lincoln, who actually topped the list.What a pathetic piece of bird cage liner.

  4. Anonymous

    Thanks Atlantic for yet another arbitrary hierarchy of meaningless distinctions. Package your product as bite-sized easily-digestable infotainment nuggets. We don’t have enough of those. Sad to see the Grand Old Lady stoop to the listmania of the semiliterate masses. Twelve ways to flatten your tummy. Ten ways to pump up your sagging circulation. Woody Allen’s parents used to argue about whether the Atlantic or the Pacific was the greater ocean.I let my Atlantic subscription lapse a few months ago and this is the first time I’ve noticed.

  5. Anonymous

    I like Chuck Berry as much as the next guy, but are we really going to put him on the list before Duke Ellington?Bob in Peabody

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Bob: Oh my God! Yes, yes, of course. Duke Ellington should go on the list, too — before Chuck Berry, and possibly before Dylan as well. An insane omission.

  7. Anonymous

    You don’t credit the Sun in 1833?Most media historians do. Why not?

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 8:12: The Sun gets the credit as the first examplar of the penny press, but the Herald, which came along just a couple of years later, gets the credit as the first modern newspaper. I certainly don’t think I’m alone in holding that view.Two examples: Benjamin Day, in the Sun, carried reports from a correspondent who had visited the moon and was filing reports on a regular basis. Now, call me a cynic, but I kind of don’t think he actually went to the moon.The Herald, on the other hand, was in many respects recognizably like our papers today. Bennett himself is believed to have conducted the very first newspaper interview. His subject: the proprietor of a house of ill repute that was wrapped up in a notorious murder.

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