Newspapers and the Rise of
Modern Journalism
Chapter 8
“Newspapers have a great future as news
organizations on the Web and perhaps
elsewhere. Sadly, today in America when a
newspaper reader dies, he or she is not
replaced by a new reader.”
—Jeffrey Cole, director, Center for the Digital Future,
USC Annenberg School, 2006
The Evolution of American
Newspapers
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Colonial papers
– Ben Harris: Publick Occurrences (1690)
 Inflammatory by standards of the times
 Not a newspaper by modern standards
 Banned by the colony after one issue
– John Campbell: the Boston News-Letter (1704)
 Reported on mundane events that took place in Europe
months earlier
– James Franklin: the New England Courant (1721)
 Stories that interested ordinary readers
Colonial Papers (cont.)
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Benjamin Franklin: the Pennsylvania Gazette (1729)
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John Peter Zenger: the New York Weekly Journal (1733)
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Historians rate among the best
Run with subsidies from political parties as well as advertising
Arrested for seditious libel
Jury ruled in his favor, as long as stories are true.
Decision provided foundation for First Amendment.
By 1765, about thirty newspapers in American colonies
Partisan Press
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1784 first daily newspaper
Two types: political and commercial
Parties shaped press history.
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Anti-British rule
Political agendas shaped newspapers.
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Partisan press forerunner of editorials
Commercial press forerunner of the modern business section
Circulation in hundreds, not thousands
Readership: the wealthy and educated
Penny Press
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1833 Benjamin Day’s New York Sun
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Human-interest stories
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Local events, scandals, and police reports
Blazed the trail for celebrity news
Fabricated stories
Ordinary individuals facing extraordinary
challenges
Success spawned wave of penny papers.
Penny Press (cont.)

James Gordon Bennett’s New York Morning Herald,
1835
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Bennett first U.S. press baron
World’s largest daily paper at the time
Model for Dickens’s Rowdy Journal
Penny papers increased reliance on ad revenue.
1848: formation of the Associated Press (AP)
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Wire services around the country
Penny Press Contributions
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Developed a system of information distribution
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Promoted literacy among the public
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Modern technology to mass-produce and cut costs
Wire services
Middle- and working-class readers could afford the
papers and were attracted to true-crime and humaninterest stories.
Empowered the public in government affairs
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Articles about politics and commerce
Yellow Journalism
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Pulitzer and Hearst
Brazen
Sensational, overly dramatic
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Crimes
Celebrities
Scandals
Disaster
Intrigue
Provided roots for investigative journalism
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Exposed corruption in business and government
Pulitzer and the New York World
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Hungarian immigrant
Bought the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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Touted as a “national conscience”
Promoted the public good
1883 bought the New York World
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Pro-immigrant and working class
Sensational stories
Advice columns and women’s pages
Anti-monopoly
Manufactured events and staged stunts
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E.g., Nellie Bly around the world in 72 days
Legacy: Columbia U’s graduate school of journalism and
launched the Pulitzer Prizes
Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochrane)
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First investigative reporter?
Faked insanity to get into hospital
Prostitution story
Made Pulitzer’s World a trendsetter for
journalism
Hearst and the New York Journal
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Expelled from Harvard
Had taken reins of San Francisco Examiner
Bought the New York Journal with his inheritance
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Imitated Pulitzer’s style
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Ailing penny paper owned by Joseph Pulitzer’s brother
Raided Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World for editors, writers,
and cartoonists
Pro-immigrant
Bold layout
Sensational stories
Invented interviews, faked pictures, encouraged conflicts
Hearst served as model for Charles Foster Kane.
Competing Models of Print Journalism
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Objectivity
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Ochs and the New York Times, 1896
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Distanced themselves from yellow journalism
Focused on documentation of major events
More affluent readership
But lowered the price to a penny, so middle class read as
marker for educated and well-informed
Inverted-pyramid style
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Answer who, what, where, when (sometimes why and how) at
top
Less significant details at bottom
Limits of Objectivity
Can news ever be objective?
Are facts alone enough?
What do we need from newspapers?
Interpretive Journalism
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More analysis
1920s editor and columnist Walter Lippmann
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Facts for the record
Analysis
Advocate plans
1930s Depression and Nazi threat to global
stability helped analysis take root.
Literary Forms of Journalism
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News critic Jack Newfield
– Journalistic impartiality as “a figleaf for covert prejudice”
Advocacy journalism
– Reporter promotes particular cause or view
Precision journalism
– Pushes news in the direction of science
Literary journalism
– Also called “new journalism”
– Fictional storytelling techniques applied to nonfictional
material
 19th century: Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Theodore
Dreiser
 20th century: Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote, Joan Didion,
Norman Mailer, Hunter S. Thompson
Newspapers in the
Age of Immediacy
Can newspapers compete with television and
the Internet?
Newspapers Undergo Change

USA Today
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Color
Brief, almost broadcast-length copy
Culture changes
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Less reading
Multi-media “news” sources
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Talk shows, films, rap music
The Drudge Report broke Lewinsky story
 Reduced standards for journalistic accuracy?
The “Other” Presses
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Native American newspapers
African American
Immigrant
Spanish-language
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Vital to marketing and publicity campaigns
Growing fast
The underground press
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Media of far Left and far Right
Economic Demands vs. Editorial
Opportunities
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Newshole = 35 to 50 percent of paper
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Newsroom staff
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Remaining space devoted to advertising
Publisher and owner
Editors
Reporters
Photographers
Copy editors
Wire services and feature syndicates important
sources of material
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Staff cannot possibly produce enough or cover the
world.
Ownership, Economics, Technology,
and Innovation
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End of competing newspapers in cities
Decline in readership
Joint operating agreement (JOA)
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Two newspapers keep separate news divisions while
merging business and production operations.
Newspaper chains
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Gannett nation’s largest
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. multinational
Media Giant
Convergence in the Newsroom
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Several papers trying converged
newsroom
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Online newspapers flexible
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Unlimited space
Links to related articles
Archives
Multimedia capabilities
Free of charge
Journalists Face Risks Abroad

By mid-2006, more than 70 reporters had died in
Iraq.

“The danger is omnipresent for journalists in Iraq.
There are few places to take refuge.”
—Joel Campagna, Committee to Protect Journalists, 2006
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Heading into the home stretch