From: email@example.com (Jms at B5)
Subject: Re: ATTN JMS: Fourth, or Fifth? (Tribulations)
Date: 1/17/2001 3:35:00 PM
: List :
>It's originally (and logically) "Fourth Estate", but in recent decades
>it's gotten hopelessly entangled with "Fifth Column", and tends to come
>out "Fifth Estate".
>JMS is a smart guy and a terrific writer, but he sometimes slips up on
>stuff like this, by not checking on things that "everybody knows".
It's not a question of not checking. The journalism profession is often
referred to as the fourth estate. I actually have the quote on reference in
which that phrase is first coined:
"...there were Three Estates in Parliament; but in the Reporters' Gallery there
sat a Fourth Estate more important than them all. It is not a figure of
speech, or a witty saying; it is a literal fact. Printing...is equivalent to
Democracy; invent Writing, Democracy is inevitable. Whoever can speak now to
the whole nation, becomes a power, a branch of government, with inalienable
weight in law-making, in all acts of authority.
Carlyle, Historian, 1905"
So much for the first part of your statement, that I don't check these things
The problem is that the *electronic* media have begun to be referred to as the
*fifth* estate. The problem widens in that now a number of reporters,
commentators, and politicians tend to refer to the fifth estate and include
journalism in that category.
So in some cases, I use Fifth Estate as a catch-all for all the media, as noted
above, and as used in hundreds of other publications (and TV shows, including
one news series based in Canada which is called The Fifth Estate).
You can tack your apology to the front door alongside Martin Luther's theses on
the way out.
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