Anne Royall (2)

— Anne Royall was America’s first woman journalist. Thanks to her, journalism uses “quote marks”.  


Photo: public domain

§ STORY SUBJECT: It is not enough to tell the truth. You must know how to tell the truth so people can accept it [believe it].

Anne Royall did things other women were afraid to do. She was born in 1769.  She died in 1854. She was the daughter of a poor servant [someone who cooks for others and cleans their houses]. When she lived, not many women could read or write.  Anne did both and taught herself how to be a very good writer. She wanted to use writing to help her country. She became America’s first woman journalist. She worked very hard and she was very brave.  She did help her county, but very few people know her name!  Let’s find out why.

     Anne lived when people thought that only “bad women” worked in jobs outside of their houses. At that time, journalism was a job done only by men. People who never read one word of her writing thought Anne was a bad woman just because she was a journalist. But Anne’s work was very important and she knew it. She wrote about women’s rights. She wrote about people who were poor and suffering. She wrote against slavery [that it was bad and wrong]. She wrote against the difficult lives of orphans [children without parents].  She was not afraid to write against the government or churches if people in them were corrupt [did dishonest things]. She even wrote against the journalists and newspapers. She said that they did not write the truth. They wrote what they wanted people to believe and made them think it was the truth. Newspapers paid people to do really strange things so that they could write about it. They hoped that the strange stories would make people want to buy their newspapers. Newspapers even made up words and said that some important person said it when that person never did!  

Q: If Anne Royal wrote the truth, why did people say she was a “bad woman”?

1) Because at that time, people were not used to women telling men the truth.

2) Because people who do wrong are afraid of people who tell the truth.

3) Because her words were very strong and not polite. It was hard for people to accept them.

4) All of the above.

     When Anne was 57 years old she started her own newspaper. This was almost impossible for a woman to do, but she did it.  She was free to tell the truth if she had her own newspaper. People who were afraid of her [afraid of the truth!] did all they could to stop her.  They put her in jail.  They made her poor. Once, a group of men threw her down a flight of stairs! But, most of all, they tried to hurt her by saying the worst lies about her. She had to start over three times, but she did not quit. She was not afraid of anyone. She wrote the truth without fear and with much courage. She did not imitate [copy] anyone when she wrote. She wrote “with her own voice”. Thanks to Anne Royall, the quality of newspapers improved in America. And thanks to her journalists began to use “quote marks”.  Quote marks are used when you write words that belong to someone else. They are not your words.

Q: Why are quote marks important?

1) Because they show clearly when a writer is using someone else’s words. 

2) Because when you quote other people who are respected it can support what you are saying.

3) Because when you are writing conversations, quote marks help you know when one person stops speaking and another person starts speaking.

4) All of the above.

     But very few people know the name Anne Royall. History books often write bad things about her. Only recently [in our time] people are beginning to see how important her work was. They understand how important it is for journalists to be honest and not sensational [write to shock people or be dramatic].  They understand that journalism is a very important public service to communities and the world.

     The life of Anne Royall teaches a very important lesson: It is not enough to want to write the truth. It must be written in a way that people can hear it and change. If you only make people angry, if you only give them shame [a painful loss of respect], it is hard for them to change.  Anne Royall did much for journalism, but it was hard even for people who knew she was right to support her because her words were so harsh [strong] and rude [without respect]. 

      Seventy-five years after Anne Royall started her own newspaper, another woman, Mary Baker Eddy, started her own newspaper in America. Could any subject (even difficult subjects) be written about in a way to help people understand what was causing the problem? Was there a way to write so that people would understand what made other people do wrong?  Was there a way to write the truth to help people solve problems and not just bring blame?  The Christian Science Monitor tried to do all that, and still does today, over 100 years later. Mary Baker Eddy said that the purpose of the Monitor was “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind”. The newspaper has won 7 Pulitzer Prises [the highest prize in journalism] for fair and honest writing.  

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