Fifty Years a Journalist

by Melville E. Stone, former General Manager of the Associated Press. Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, Page & Co. 1921. 8mo, xiv+371 pp. $5.00.
IT was fifty years ago that Melville E. Stone went into daily newspaper work as managing editor of the Chicago Republican. Since that time the advance of American journalism, both in efficiency and in ethics, has been conspicuous. Because Mr. Stone has not been merely a witness of this advance, but one of its leaders, and has done as much as any other single man to establish those standards of accurate reporting, lightning distribution, and impartial presentation of the news which to-day characterize American journalism at its best, the publication of the story of his career is an event.
And what a career he has had! The son of a pioneer Methodist minister in Illinois, Melville Stone got his first newspaper job delivering papers at the age of twelve. He was a managing editor at twenty-three; he founded his own paper, the Chicago Daily News, at twenty-seven; he retired from its staff at thirty-nine after having brought it to a commanding position through his ingenuity in detective journalism and his wellwon reputation for integrity. He traveled in Europe, became a bank president on his return to Chicago, was chosen general manager of the Associated Press in 1893, and retained this position after its reorganization in 1900. Since then the history of his life has been the history of the Associated Press, which under his management has spanned the world and made its service invaluable to its member papers, now thirteen hundred in number.
In a sense the very qualities that have proved most useful in Mr. Stone’s life-work detract slightly from the interest of his autobiography. Associated Press correspondents have been trained by him to keep their opinions in the background and to report the facts. Mr. Stone’s remarkable story, full of entertaining incidents, is told in an unemotional, objective style. Sometimes his reticence is somewhat relaxed, as in the fascinating chapters in which be tells how he established the European service of the Associated Press and how he helped President Roosevelt in the negotiations which brought the RussoJapanese war to a close; such passages, however, are all too few. We would willingly spare some of the items of current history which Mr. Stone’s passion for facts leads him to include, if he would only give us more of himself.
Yet after all that is just what he has done. The book is characteristic of the man. Always he tells his story as a good A.P. man should, modestly and without embellishment. It is an interesting story because the subject is interesting. Few living Americans have seen and understood so much of vital importance during the past half-century, or have been privileged to be on terms of friendship with so many of the great men of the age.