Friday, June 19, 2015

The Los Angeles Report on the Esperanto Congress

LA Times readers had an uncanny
experience of déjà vu.
Journalism by press release is clearly nothing new, given the overlap in information in the articles that appeared in the Los Angeles Herald and the Los Angeles Times on June 19, 1910. It’s also clear what the source of the article was: the Esperanto Society of Los Angeles, which managed to get a plug in for their own events. (I’d like to note here that while I struggle to maintain monthly meetings of my own Esperanto group, in 1910 there were weekly Esperanto meetings in Los Angeles. On the other hand, when I moved to California in 1991, there were weekly meetings in my area; that group has since folded.)

Because there is so much overlap, I’ve decided to take the irritating way out and combine the articles. I’ve set them below in three columns, the Herald on the left, the Times on the right, and everything where they’re using the same words is in the middle.

This is what people in Los Angeles could have put together on June 19, 1910, if they took both the Herald and the Times.
Business of Sixth Congress of Esperanto Societies to Convene in Washington.
Early in August Probably the most unique convention ever held in the United States will take place early in August, this year, when
delegates from Esperanto Societies from all over the civilized world will meet in Washington
to attend the sixth
annual International
Esperanto congress.
For one week Esperantists of fifty different nationalities will carry on in the
international auxiliary language
all of the official business of their congress, proving, for the sixth time, the simplicity and practicability of the idiom which they are striving to introduce.
In the United States Esperanto was almost unheard of before 1905, but Since 1905, when the language was first introduced in the United States, the number of Esperanto groups and societies has rapidly increased, and
there are now
few villages without their quota of
Esperantists, and the number of their societies and groups is rapidly increasing. Esperantists.
The state of Maryland
recently has just
officially recognized Esperanto by passing a law providing for the instruction of the language in all its public schools, and
it is expected that other states will soon follow this example. other States will, it is expected, follow this example soon.
The movement is here represented by the Esperanto Society of Los Angeles, which meets
weekly. weekly and is interested in extensive propaganda work.
I think if you add them both together, you get the original press release, taking the longest of any conflicting passage. It wasn’t really the “congress of Esperanto societies” as the Los Angeles Times described it, although in that era the participants were described as “delegates,” although it’s not clear in what capacity they existed to actually act as representatives.

The news that Maryland was gearing up to introduce Esperanto in the schools isn’t wholly credible, as this is the only location in which I’ve seen this alleged. Considering that the main Esperanto Office was in Washington, D.C., you’d expect it to make the Washington papers. The articles about the Univesala Kongreso coming from the D.C. area (for those not familiar with the region, that would include much of Maryland) do not mention any Maryland schools taking up Esperanto. A few years later, during one of the (several) attempts to get Esperanto into the D.C. schools, the claim was made that they were doing this in Ohio, another claim I have been unable to substantiate.

Finally, I must (belatedly) chide the Los Angeles Times. Nothing is ever “most unique.” Even if it were in the original press release, there is no cause to use it.
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