York, Pa., newspaper publisher J.W. Gitt: ‘Just say it … straight out’

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York newspaper publisher J.W. Gitt earned a widespread reputation for his endorsement of Progressive Party candidate Henry Wallace in the 1948 presidential election. Artist Walt Partymiller put Gitt’s liberal political views into Page 1 cartoons. For an additional look at Partymiller’s work, see The public and private art of Walt Partymiller.

“J.W. Gitt suggested that his writers adopt a straight-forward news writing style. The King James Bible and Abraham Lincoln’s speeches contained such writing.”
That’s how I began my blurb for the dust jacket of Mary Hamilton’s soon-to-be-published biography of J.W. Gitt, liberal, long-time owner of The Gazette and Daily in York. (I’ve helped edit the hardcover book, and I’m with the successor to Gitt’s newspaper, so publisher York County Heritage Trust asked me to weigh in.)
I continued: …


” ‘And don’t get too cute in your editorials,’ he said. ‘Don’t go for irony… . The Dutch (Pennsylvania Germans) take things at face value. Just say it – whatever it is – straight out.’ This quest for simplicity in style did not come from a simple man. Mary Hamilton’s decades-long work – this biography of Gitt’s life and times – winsomely tells a simple story of a complex man. Straight out.”
As a journalist who has written many editorials for a York County audience for many years, I always keep Gitt’s counsel in mind. Indeed, his plea for simplicity is an ideal no matter what audience you’re writing for.
Mary’s biography ably captures the man whose personal journalism gained a worldwide audience during his ownership from 1915 to 1970. To order a copy of the $29.95 book, go to www.yorkheritage.org.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.

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