The Commission's notion of a press council (though they did not use that term) was innovative. Hutchins worried, however, that it was their only innovation. "Does it at all disturb the commission that we seem to come back again and again to one recommendation only?" he said. "Our single remedy for all ills is a continuing non-governmental commission; I cannot recall at the moment any other recommendation that the commission is prepared to make."84

Niebuhr was not bothered. "We don't have startling recommendations but there is a lot of wholesome advice," he said. Anyway, he added, "diagnosis is more important here than a cure."85

"If the only recommendation we make is for a non-governmental commission," Hutchins said, "that may be adequate and in keeping with the tone and style of the Report."86

The Commission members' heavy reliance on this nongovernmental body, as Jerilyn McIntyre has written, reflects their "lack of faith in any other source of control" of the press. After lengthy, probing discussions, they had concluded that the law was a blunt and easily abused instrument, one that should be used only as a last resort. Most alternatives also seemed unpromising.87

The members had little faith that schools of journalism would reform the press. MacLeish declared that instead of "the kind of continuing and authoritative criticism which is the lifeblood of such a truly professional school as the Harvard Law School," journalism schools were generating only "articulate apologies for the business." Hutchins, who abominated vocational education as a matter of principle, spoke of journalism schools' "half-baked courses" like radio announcing.88

The Commission also deemed press-related organizations, such as the American Society of Newspaper Editors, incapable of spearheading reform. "Experience has proved," Hocking wrote, "that organs of 'self-regulation' drawn from the media themselves are not adequate for this task."89

The marketplace, the men felt, could not be counted on either. They offered various explanations. Staff Director Leigh maintained that the marketplace offers a reader only "a crude choice between vaguely defined alternatives," rather than a "positive opportunity to improve the kind or quality of fare he is served." To MacLeish, the marketplace tracks the desires of the advertiser, not those of the reader.90

At times, Commission members faulted the audience for being insufficiently discriminating. Readers, MacLeish suggested, are easily distracted, so it was "unfortunate" that newspapers offered features and entertainment "more tempting to the palate than the plain and simple fare of fact and thought"; he found comics pages especially worrisome. Hocking suggested that a reader who finds "plenty of reading matter to suit his taste" may keep buying a newspaper that he knows to be dishonest on some issues.91

Several Commission members wanted the press to improve the public, not merely to reflect it. "If the people will not buy a good newspaper and will buy a poor one, what is a businessman to do?" Hutchins said. "Our answer must be that we expect him to go into another business or else that through popular education we expect to raise the level of demand to such a point that a good paper can make money." Hocking wrote that "the public may not know what to demand of its press unless the press itself furnishes the instruction." Robert Redfield said, "We have to ask the press to be better than its public."92

Not everyone considered that possible. "The public will never live up to the kind of newspaper which this Commission would like to have," Chafee remarked. Staff member Ruth Inglis later put the point more sharply. The sophisticated, highly educated members of the Commission, she said, had erred in "mistaking themselves for citizens."93