A Funny Adventure

Article in Aug. 17, 1879 Sioux City Journal.

SIOUX CITY | Now this might be called Fake News by more than President Donald Trump.

Journalists take potshots for supposed laziness, errors or even outright bias. Consider how the trade used to be practiced.

A Daily Journal in Sioux City piece on Aug. 17, 1879, by comparison showed that today's newspaper journalism is comprehensively reported and sourced. It is unlikely to have Fake News when such controls are in place.

Back to the story in question, which had the eye-capturing capitalized headline "A FUNNY ADVENTURE." That is followed by the subhead "A Young Man Rolls Down the Side of Prospect Hill -- The Only Man Who Ever Fell 300 Feet and was Not Killed."

The line "Only Man Who Ever..." seems a bit of a stretch, but who knows.

The extended story tells how the male fell off the edge of the Sioux City hill and grabbed at vegetation on the way down, in the attempt to stop his fall.

Expecting to be killed, the article describes him amazed to land on "a bar of soft sand and mud to receive him."

Within the article, the man is not named (just continually called "he") and no source is attributed. It all amounts to something you might hear over beers in a local tavern.

The last line of the unbylined article (bylines were virtually unheard of at the time) offers, "If there are any who doubt this story, we can only say that it is vouched for by responsible parties."

Oh, if unnamed responsible parties vouch for it, then it must have happened.

If it wasn't Fake News, imagine such a piece running today. It would surely get online hits, reader comments and passed in the print version to people at an adjacent table in Siouxland cafes.


County and education reporter

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