Short Story #335: Mr. Masthead, Journalist by Ambrose Bierce

Title:  Mr. Masthead, Journalist

Author: Ambrose Bierce


Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce

The narrator has bought a newspaper for the purposes of defeating of brother-in-law's run for the legislature.  He fires the first editor who had opinions that the narrator did not like and took a friend's recommendation for another editor.  He explains to the new editor, Masthead, that the paper must always disapprove of all acts committed by Jefferson Sandril, the narrator's brother-in-law.  The editor agrees and writes a scathing commentary on Sandril the next editor.  The narrator explains to the editor that the story shouldn't include references to family.  The editor insists that such things should be included.  The narrator continues to indulge the conversation but openly loads his revolver, ending the discussion.  Masthead is instructed to promote the opponent rather than going after Sandril directly.  This time, the editor includes in a story praise for the opponent but the praise is questionable since it includes references to time spent at an insane asylum.  This sets of a series of attacks and duels that the narrator must deal with.  It continues on with no abating and the narrator finally tells Masthead to switch support to Sandril.  Masthead's means of support actually sank Sandril's chance of help and the opponent won the race.  The opponent comes to the office to thank the narrator and sees the editor.  He explains to the narrator that Masthead was a resident of asylum to which the opponent had worked at as a physician.  The narrator ends on musing about the man he asked for a recommendation for the editor position.


The story doesn't land quite the punch one is hoping.  The role of the media and Masthead's failure to properly support a candidate is amusing to watch but the end feels flat.  

Short Story #335 out of 365
Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 11/01/2014
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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