The Last Word

The newspaper man, indeed, is a dangerous person to fool with. He is extremely ingenious in his methods of retaliation. Here is another story in point. One Bennett was city editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer somewhere in the sixties. It was Bennett’s plan, if news were scarce, to make small children–offspring of the brain only–fall from the Newport ferry-boat into the Ohio River, where they would infallibly have been drowned but for the gallant rescue of some by-stander, usually a personal friend of Bennett’s. One of these friends, Kellum by name, grew very weary after he had figured several times as a savior of drowning innocents, and requested that Bennett should desist. So, in next day’s Enquirer, Kellum read that a beautiful little girl, child of a prominent citizen in Newport, had fallen into the river, and that Mr. Kellum, who was standing near and could have rescued her, refused to render the slightest assistance. A few minutes later the maddest man in Cincinnati arrived in the Enquirer office, threatening the direst vengeance on Bennett. But Bennett calmly pulled off his coat, and said, ‘See here, Kellum, you are a good enough fellow in your way, but I can’t stand any interference with my department. If I make any statement in the Enquirer you mustn’t come round here contradicting it. That isn’t journalism.’

— William Shepard Walsh, Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities, 1892