It should be the purpose of the Associated Press to convey to its numerous subscribers the unbiassed, uncolored truth. I recognize that this is extremely difficult and that with even the best of intentions those who report interviews, conventions and events will unintentionally inject their own opinions and yet absolute impartiality must be the ideal at which The Associated Press aims. You furnish news to Republican papers, Democratic papers, papers identified with other parties and to independent papers; and the readers of these Associated Press reports represent every phase of opinion.
Your association is not a party organ. It does not do editorial work; it is not the champion of any cause or the advocate of any man. It is expected to tell the truth about Congressional doings, legislative sessions, municipal matters, and to report correctly that which is given to it for publication. It cannot guarantee its readers against mistakes, for its agents are human, but it can correct mistakes when they are found out, and admonish its representatives to be cautious. It does not furnish the headlines, which are often misleading, but it can see to it that the text is free from intentional errors and that those who trust to its accuracy shall not be deceived.
I take this opportunity to express my appreciation of the treatment that has been accorded me. The association has asked me for advance copies of a great many more speeches than I have been able to give it, and in asking for an advance copy it has furnished the best proof that it wanted to treat me with fairness. Through The Associated Press I have been able to get my ideas and my arguments before the readers of the Republican papers, and I have been less concerned about the editorial comments of Republican papers than about the correctness of the news reports.
Bryan goes on to discuss his ideal newspaper: an independent paper – as opposed to a party organ – with non-partisan news reporting and openly bi-partisan editorials. That may be fine as far as the news goes, but what happens in a bi-partisan media environment when the two major parties are largely in agreement on a subject, but a significant percentage of the population thinks otherwise?
Below the fold: the full report of Bryan’s speech, taken from the New York Tribune of 23 April 1908.