[lg policy] 1871 | To Skewer Boss Tweed, The Times Spoke German

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Mon May 25 20:52:43 UTC 2015


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1871 | To Skewer Boss Tweed, The Times Spoke German
 By David W. Dunlap
<http://www.nytimes.com/times-insider/author/david-w-dunlap/> May 25, 2015
5:45 am May 25, 2015 5:45 am
 Photo
[image: An 1871 exposé of Boss William M. Tweed by The Times was turned
into a supplement printed in English and German.]
An 1871 exposé of Boss William M. Tweed by The Times was turned into a
supplement printed in English and German.Credit Library of Congress

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*David W. Dunlap is a Metro reporter and writes the Building Blocks
<http://www.nytimes.com/column/building-blocks> column. He has worked at
The Times for 40 years.*

Among the many noteworthy features
<http://www.nytimes.com/times-insider/2015/05/07/something-rotten-in-the-state-of-nail-salons/?_r=0>
of Unvarnished
<http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/10/nyregion/at-nail-salons-in-nyc-manicurists-are-underpaid-and-unprotected.html>
— Sarah Maslin Nir’s exposé of the wretched conditions, racism and
exploitation endured by many nail salon workers — was its simultaneous
publications in English, Korean
<http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/10/nyregion/manicurists-in-new-york-area-are-underpaid-and-unprotected.html>,
Chinese <http://cn.nytstyle.com/living/20150507/t07nails/> and Spanish
<http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/10/nyregion/un-trabajo-tan-duro-como-las-unas.html>
.

Ambitious? Unquestionably. Public spirited? No question. Groundbreaking?
Well, not by 144 years.
Photo
[image: William M. Tweed]
William M. TweedCredit

The Times’s first triumph as an investigative newspaper
<http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/16/a-happy-200th-to-the-timess-first-publisher-whom-boss-tweed-couldnt-buy-or-kill/>
came in 1871, under George Jones, when it meticulously unmasked the
extravagant fraud by which Boss William M. Tweed and his associates were
enriching themselves under the guise of constructing what is now called the
Tweed Courthouse.

After days of ladling out details of the corruption, line by line, The
Times printed a supplement on July 29, 1871, recapping its reporting to
date. Titled “How New York Is Governed: Frauds of the Tammany Democrats,”
the pamphlet was a popular sensation, selling more than 500,000 copies,
according to “Boss Tweed,” by Kenneth D. Ackerman.

Included in that total was a German-language version intended to reach what
was then an enormous bloc of New Yorkers. “The German-Americans at that
time were a much more distinct racial group than at present, and one which
furnished valuable to aid to municipal reform,” Elmer Davis wrote in
“History of The New York Times, 1851-1921.” (We might now say “ethnic
group.”)

“For various motives, of which partisanship was the most worthy, the
German-American press had hitherto given its support to Tweed,” Davis
continued, “so The Times let the Germans read the evidence in their own
language.”

We apparently don’t have a copy of “How New York Is Governed” — or its
German counterpart — in our newsroom archives. (The image shown here comes
from the Library of Congress
<https://archive.org/stream/hownewyorkisgove00yapa#page/n6/mode/1up>.) But
it seems clear that bilingual reportage is a tradition almost as old as The
Times itself.

http://www.nytimes.com/times-insider/2015/05/25/1871-to-skewer-boss-tweed-the-times-spoke-german/
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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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