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The Franklin Brothers. Changing American Journalism. Material property of the Arkansas Department of Education Distance Learning Center. It may be used for educational, non-profit use only after contacting the DLC at ER.

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the franklin brothers

The Franklin Brothers

Changing American Journalism

Material property of the Arkansas Department of Education Distance Learning Center. It may be used for educational, non-profit use only after contacting the DLC at ER

by 1719 several newspapers were being published most of these had licenses
By 1719, several newspapers were being published. Most of these had licenses.
  • In 1721, James Franklin began publishing The New England Courant in Boston.
  • At first he had no license because he just wanted the newspaper to entertain readers.
The newspaper lasted just five years, but it greatly influenced other newspapers in the Colonies.
  • The Courant tried to supply readers with what they liked and needed, rather than what officials wanted published.
James Franklin did a good job writing the Courant. His stories poked fun at other newspapers and at government officials.

He was always being jailed for these stories. Finally, he was able to get a printing license so the paper could continue.

James needed help to keep the newspaper going.

He hired his 12-year-old brother, Ben, as an apprentice. Ben wasn’t paid for his position, but he was trained in printing.

James did all the writing and Ben did all the printing.

At 15, Ben wanted to start writing a column for the Courant, but James said no.

Ben wrote the column anyway and signed it with a pen name, “Silence Dogood.”Without knowing it was Ben, James began publishing the Silence Dogood column, which made fun of local people.It became one of the most popular parts of the Courant.

A year went by before James found out Ben was really Silence Dogood.

Although he was angry, he couldn’t stop running the column because the readers liked it so well.

At about the same time, James was once again jailed for criticizing a government official.

This time, he couldn’t operate the newspaper from the jail or even write stories for publication.

He had Ben do all of the writing and publishing for the months James was in jail.

Once he was out of jail, the government permanently took away the printing license from James, but that didn’t stop him.

He made Ben the printer of the Courant, got him a license, and went right back to writing his stories.

Ben got fed up with being used by James.

He left Boston at age 17 and went to Philadelphia, where he ran the Pennsylvania Gazette.

This became one of the most popular newspapers in the Colonies.

Unlike other newspapers, the Pennsylvania Gazette was respectable and entertaining.

Franklin was a good journalist and a great businessman.

While most printers didn’t make much money from their newspapers, Franklin became rich from the Gazette.

Franklin was one of the first printers to run cartoons in his newspaper.

This cartoon represents the United Colonies during the French – Indian War.

Ben Franklin believed in the power of the press. He wanted everyone to understand the news, even people who could not read.
In later years, Ben Franklin was a member of the Continental Congress and a Founding Father of the United States.

Thomas Jefferson supposed stated that the only reason Franklin didn't write the entire Declaration of Independence was because he would include too many jokes.