Kaitlin Flores, Vince Mastantuno, and James Williams
Franklin’s letter, “To the Public Advertiser,” submitted on May 22nd 1765, is an artful critique of the most recent print sent out to the public. Franklin denotes sarcastically that the author of the last print, who calls himself “the Spectator,” is an ingenious writer. His sarcasm is made apparent in the following sentences to claim that this writer is attempting to mock the other new writers and their pieces. Franklin conjectures that if the Spectator was able to succeed in such ridicule it would be a great injury to the readers because they will believe almost anything printed.
Franklin goes on to say that at least these bogus stories can be useful for making small talk or for a good laugh by those who are aware of their nonsensical contents. He then explains that these Englishmen, or readers of the paper, tend to be quiet if they have nothing to say, when they are silent they get sad, and when they are sad they hang themselves. This extreme exaggeration in itself helps to support Franklin’s claim that people will believe anything they read and perhaps will even believe what he as just said. Franklin follows by giving a few examples of topics printed about and how they are not often factual or helpful to public education. Franklin asserts that on his own credibility as a traveler, some of these prints are true, but not usually. He then rattles off several items of trade and how even they are extorted to appear more valuable and believed to be worth more because people will believe anything.
Franklin nears the end of his article with a tall tail about how Cod will fly out of the water to escape enemies (predators) and whales will follow them; he claims the great leap of the whale up the Niagara Falls is “one of the finest spectacles in nature!” This example helps support his thesis about the dangers of false print being accessible to the public because anyone who would believe such a story or even consider it had some truth to it, would not think about questioning the credibility of the publishers.
In closing, Franklin calls upon his own credibility as a member of an honest writers group, and asks that these publishers print fact not fiction. He points out how little writers make off of their works in these newspapers and that it is imperative for truth to be printed in order to maintain balance amongst society and not fracture the readers trust or education. He ends the article by naming other honest writers and again reminds us of the need for factual news to be printed.