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History of American Journalism


Mrs. Renee Robinson Journalism I Quest For News People have always had a desire to know the news. News was carried by bards and messengers. In the Middle Ages, gossip ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: History of American Journalism

History of Journalism
in America
Mrs. Renee Robinson Journalism I
Quest For News
  • People have always had a desire to know the news.
  • News was carried by bards and messengers.
  • In the Middle Ages, gossip and news was exchanged
    during annual fairs.

First Newspapers
  • By 59 B.C., the Romans had hand-copied news
    sheets called Acta Diurna (Daily Acts) that was
    posted about the city.

Cranking It Up
  • Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press
    (using moveable type) in the 15th century. This
    process enabled mass production of newspapers.

The Gazetta
  • To obtain a copy of the earliest newspapers
    printed in 1566, a citizen paid a small gold coin
    called a gazetta.

The Good Times
  • When William Caxton set up the first British
    press, the throne (King Edward IV) approved
    newspapers because the paper brought culture to
    the country in the form of literature.

A Sense of Humor
  • The press began criticizing and angering the
    monarchy. They made political cartoons like
    Humpty Dumpty and Hector Protector.

Was That a Joke?
  • Everyone but the monarchy was laughing. The Crown
    began requiring a license to print and weekly
    inspections of London printing presses. In 1557,
    the Star Chamber arrested and hanged William
    Carter for supporting Catholics. Queen Mary was
    on the throne.

History of American Journalism
  • Newspapers have not always been the
    sophisticated, full-color extravaganzas we know
    today. American journalism had its humble
    beginnings in the Colonial period with the
    publication of Benjamin Harris Publick
    Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, which
    was shut down after its one and only issue on
    Sept. 26, 1690.

  • This newspaper was printed on three sheets of
    stationery-size paper and the fourth page was
    left blank so that readers could add their own
    news before passing it on to someone else.

  • Unfortunately, the essays which this paper
    contained did not please the authorities, and
    Harris had not bought the required license, so
    the paper was shut down after just one issue.

  • The first continuously published American
    newspaper did not come along for 14 more years.
    The Boston News-Letter premiered on April 24,
    1704. The publisher was John Campbell. The paper
    originally appeared on a single page, printed on
    both sides and issued weekly.

  • In the early years of its publication the
    News-Letter was filled mostly with news from
    London journals detailing the intrigues of
    English politics, and a variety of events
    concerning the European wars. The rest of the
    newspaper was filled with items listing ship
    arrivals, deaths, sermons, political
    appointments, fires, accidents and the like.

  • One of the most sensational stories published
    when the News-Letter was the only newspaper in
    the colonies was the the account of how
    Blackbeard the pirate was killed in hand-to-hand
    combat on the deck of a sloop that had engaged
    his ship in battle.

  • On view here is the May 14, 1761 issue of the
    News-Letter. The front page is displayed in its
    entirety. As was the custom then, the front page
    was devoted to events overseas. This issue
    contains news from London, a speech by the King
    to the House of Commons, and various accounts
    from Westminster and Whitehall

  • Also displayed from this issue is an ad from
    the back page for a Scheme of a Lottery. The
    lottery was created to sell 6000 tickets at 2
    each to raise funds to pave the highway in
    Charlestown from the Ferry to the Neck. Of the
    12,000 to be raised, according to the ad,
    10,800 is earmarked for prizes and 1200 for
    paving the highway.

  • Perhaps the most famous name in early
    American journalism is that of Peter Zenger.
    Publisher of the New York Weekly Journal, Zenger
    was accused and tried for libel against the
    colonial British government in 1735. In this
    picture, Zenger is arrested and his printing
    press is burned by Colonial authorities.

  • Zenger was found innocent and it was that one
    verdict that paved the way for a free and
    independent press in America. The Zenger case
    established that truth is a defense against a
    libel charge. For the first time it was
    considered proper for the press to question and
    criticize the government. This is a pillar of a
    free press in the United States and any country
    that is free. Journalists have to be able to
    question the actions of the government in order
    to make them accountable.

Free Press
  • Even though the Bill of Rights guarantees Freedom
    of the Press, the right has always been under
    attack by the government and other forces.
  • The Freedom of the Press right must be constantly

  • All that is needed for newspapers to become
    a mass medium is a good idea and a cheaper way to
    mass produce papers. Along comes Benjamin Day in
    1833. Day opened the New York Sun and created the
    Penny Press.

  • Newspapers of the day cost about 10 cents
    each . . . too expensive for the masses. But
    there was a large literate audience out there.
    Day took advantage of the fact that he could
    print thousands of papers inexpensively and sold
    the papers for a penny each.  

  • He also changed the content of newspapers to
    make it more sensational and more popular to the
    lower class. He hired boys to hawk the newspapers
    on street corners. It was the Penny Press that
    also began using advertising as a way to bring
    readers information, but advertising also helped
    by paying for the printing and distribution of

  • Cheap newspapers sold to the workers were a
    hit. His idea was huge success and newspapers
    crossed that line that made them truly mass
    media. Others were quick to follow his lead. They
    became so powerful that they were called Lords of
    the Press.

Getting the Scoop
  • The New York Sun (It Shines For All) appeared
    in 1833. It was sensational, vulgar, and
    entertaining. It was the first penny press
  • In 1841, Horace Greeley founded the New York
    Tribune. It had more substance than the Sun.
  • The scoop (beating the competition) developed.

  • The Civil War era brought some new
    technology to the publishing industry.
    Photography became a popular addition to
    newspapers. Matthew Brady set up a camera on the
    battlefields and photographed the soldiers at
    war. One of his photographs appears above.

  • An invention that helped speed news along was
    the telegraph. Reporters were able to send
    encoded news back to their papers as it was

  • Abraham Lincoln became the first president to
    direct armies in the field directly from the
    White House.

Three Other Factors Improve Publishing Speed
  • Steamship
  • Telegraph
  • Rotary press

  • During the darkest days of the terrible war
    Lincoln would pace back and forth in the
    telegraph office awaiting news of the fate of the
    nation that would emerge from the new telegraph

  • Because the telegraph wires kept going down
    on a regular basis, sometimes the story that a
    reporter was trying to send got cut off before it
    was finished.

  • To alleviate this situation, reporters
    developed the inverted pyramid form of writing,
    putting the most important facts at the beginning
    of the story.

  • This way, the most important part of the
    story would most likely reach the newspaper, and
    if anything got cut off, it would be the lesser
    important details of what happened.

Increasing Speed
  • Other methods and inventions that increased the
    speed of transmitting news include
    correspon-dents, the steamship, carrier pigeons,
    the Pony Express, the railroad.

More, Better, Faster
  • Cooperative newsgathering companies, like the
    Associated Press speeded the process.
  • A transatlantic cable was laid, linking America
    to Europe.
  • Monthly magazines were founded.
  • New type designs, color printing, and engraving
    made it possible to use photographs.

  • As newspapers began to compete more and more
    with one another to increase circulation and
    obtain more advertising revenue, a different type
    of journalism was developed by publishers Joseph
    Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst.

  • In the mid-1890s, Pulitzer (in the New York
    World) and Hearst (in the San Francisco Examiner
    and later the New York Morning Journal)
    transformed newspapers with sensational and
    scandalous news coverage, the use of drawings and
    the inclusion of more features such as comic

  • After Pulitzer began publishing color comic
    sections that included a strip entitled "The
    Yellow Kid" (left) in early 1896, this type of
    paper was labeled "yellow journalism."

  • Drawn by R.F. Outcault, the popular (if
    now-unfunny) strip became a prize in the struggle
    between Pulitzer and Hearst in the New York
    newspaper wars.

  • Outcault moved the strip to Hearst's papers
    after nine months, where it competed with a
    Pulitzer-sponsored version of itself.

  • Yellow Kid cartoonist Richard Outcault

  • One of the most popular reporters of the
    Yellow Journalism era was a woman named Elizabeth
    Cochrane who wrote under the name Nellie Bly.
    She wrote with anger and compassion. She wrote to
    expose the many wrongs that developed in
    nineteenth century cities after the industrial
    boom. Most of her reporting was on women.

  • She directed her articles to upper class
    women to open their eyes and hearts to their
    impoverished, hungry, hopeless sisters. She felt
    very strongly that women and their issues were
    not represented in newspapers or any where else.

  • She wanted people to know different womens
    plights and understand why some became fallen
    women." She hoped that by reading her articles
    other women would want to help their sisters. She
    wanted people to realize the unfairness that
    women were afforded at the turn of the century.

  • She got a job on the Pittsburgh Dispatch
    when she wrote a furious letter complaining about
    an editorial that claimed that women were good
    for little but housework. She covered social
    questions such as divorce, slum life, and
    conditions in Mexico for the paper.

  • In 1887 she moved to Joseph Pulitzer's New
    York World, for which she exposed the conditions
    in which the insane lived by pretending to be mad
    and getting herself committed to the asylum on
    Blackwell's Island. She also investigated
    sweat-shops tenements, the world of petty crime
    and Corps de Ballet by the same methods.

  • The high point in Blyes life, however was
    the round-the-world trip, which she made in 72
    days, 6 hours,11 minutes and 14 seconds. Joseph
    Pulitzer sent a special train to meet her return
    to San Francisco, and she was greeted by
    fireworks, gun salutes, brass bands and parade on

  • In 1895 Nellie Bly married a millionaire,
    Robert Seaman, 50 years older than herself, and
    retired. She lost most of his money after he died
    and in 1919 tried unsuccessfully to make a
    comeback. She died in 1920.

  • After William Randolph Hearst moved to New
    York, he and Joseph Pulitzer competed for readers
    by making their papers more and more sensational.

  • In 1895, Hearst purchased the New York
    Morning Journal and entered into a head-to-head
    circulation war with his former mentor, Joseph
    Pulitzer, owner of the New York World.

  • To increase circulation both started to
    include articles about the Cuban Insurrection. 
    Many stories in both newspaper greatly
    exaggerated their claims to make the stories more

  • Both Hearst and Pulitzer published images of
    Spanish troops placing Cubans into concentration
    camps where they were suffered and died from
    disease and hunger.

  • The American public purchased more newspapers
    because of the sensational writing, and this
    strongly encouraged Hearst and Pulitzers
    newspapers to write more sensationalized stories. 

  • Some of the most sensationalized articles
    concerned Butcher Weyler and his
    reconcentration policies, and the Cuban

  • Circulation continued to soar as the Journal
    reported that an American civilian was imprisoned
    without a trial and stating that no American was
    safe in Cuba as long as Weyler was in charge.

  • Another major  story that enraged the American
    public was written by one of Hearst's reporters, 
    Richard Harding Davis,  who came upon the story
    while on his way back from Cuba. 

  • The reporter learned of the story of Senorita
    Clemencia Arango.  Arango was forced out of Cuba
    for helping the rebels, and was supposedly
    strip-searched by Spanish detectives. 

  • This angered the Victorian ideals of the
    American public even though the story was found
    to be in error and that a woman searched Arango
    and not Spanish male detectives.

  • This cartoon made fun of the way Hearst and
    Pulitzer were each claiming to own the story
    about the Spanish-American War.

Lasting Legacy
  • One of the biggest accomplishments of the
    muckraking movement was the investigation and
    legislation that created the Food and Drug Act of

High Times to Low Times
  • There were more newspapers on the market in 1910
    than any other time in history.
  • The numbers decreased afterward, due to
    competition, mergers, the cost of operation, and
    the electronic media.

A Picture Says
  • Photojournalism developed along with newspaper
    technology. The large-format Life magazine, Time,
    and Look magazines were known for their visual
    images. They set the standard for photography and
    photojournalism. Most of the photography
    magazines folded because they couldnt compete
    with the images on television.

As the U.S. population in the latter half of the
20th century has shifted from cities to suburbs,
and with the growth in competition from other
media, many large city newspapers have had to
cease publication, merge with their competitors,
or be taken over by a chain of newspaper
publishers such as the Gannett Company or
Knight-Ridder Inc.

In 1982, using satellite transmission and color
presses, the Gannett chain established a new
national newspaper, USA Today, published and
circulated throughout the United States, Europe,
and Asia. Gannett was the largest newspaper
chain in 1985, owning 88 dailies.

The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and
USA Today are read all over the country small
towns and rural districts usually have daily or
weekly local papers made up largely of syndicated
matter, with a page or two of local news and
editorials. These local papers are frequently
influential political organs.

Since the invention of the telegraph, which
enormously facilitated the rapid gathering of
news, the great news agencies, such as Reuters in
England, Agence France-Presse in France, and
Associated Press and United Press International
in the United States, have sold their services to
newspapers and to their associate members.

Improvements in photocomposition and in printing
(especially the web offset press), have enhanced
the quality of print and made possible the
publication of huge editions at great speed.
Modern newspapers are supported primarily by the
sale of advertising space. Computer technology
has also had an enormous impact on the production
of news and newspapers.

By the 1990s this technology had also affected
the nature of newspapers, as the first
independent online daily appeared on the
Internet. By the decade's end some 700 papers
had Web sites, some of which carried news
gathered by their own staffs, and papers
regularly scooped themselves by publishing
electronically before the print edition appeared.
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