William Bentley (June 22, 1759, Boston, Massachusetts – December 29, 1819, Salem, Massachusetts) was an American Unitarian minister, scholar, columnist, and diarist.
He was a polymath who possessed the second best library in the United States (after that of Thomas Jefferson), and was an indefatigable reader and collector of information at the local national and international level.
Starting in 1794, he produced a weekly news summary of world events for the local newspaper the Salem Gazette.
He provided a highly sophisticated capsule of current political and cultural news, set in a broad historical context.
His unsigned reports were widely copied and reproduced in the young nation's newspapers.
Bentley believed in Republican enlightenment and the widest possible diffusion of knowledge.
He was upset by the increasingly shrill tone of the partisan press, and the superficiality of much journalism.