History of Journalism August 29,2007
America’s First Newspapers • One sheet • Letters, essays—very little news • First American newspaper: • Publick Occurrences • 1690 • Stopped after only one issue because British colonial authorities didn’t like what was printed
America’s First Newspapers • The Boston News-Letter was the first continuously published newspaper in the colonies. • It was supervised very closely by the British government.
Freedom of the Press • In the colonies, any paper that criticized the government was guilty of sedition (the stirring of rebellion). • Famous case: 1735 • John Peter Zenger, publisher of the New York Weekly Journal was arrested for printing articles critical of the governor. • The colonial jurors found him not guilty of sedition—a major turning point in the fight for freedom
Birth of a Nation • By 1775 (when the Revolution began), 37 newspapers were being published in the colonies. • Most newspapers backed the Patriots and were in favor of the Revolution. The newspapers were partisan at that time. • Tory newspapers: supported the British • Whig newspapers: supported the Revolution • Some historians say there would not have been a Revolution without the support of the press.
First Amendment • The Constitution makes no mention of the Freedom of the Press • But the freedom of the press is addressed in the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights: • “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”
Penny Press • Forerunner of today’s newspapers • “Penny press” newspapers (such as the New York Sun and The New York Tribune) were sold for a penny and included real news—the police beat, natural disasters, etc.—and fewer opinions • The “penny press” achieved a huge audience, made up mostly of the working class • Advertising played a major role • Not unusual for a city to have eight or nine competing newspapers
The Telegraph • In 1861, reporters at Civil War battle sites began using the telegraph to transmit their news stories • This led to more concise writing • The telegraph led to the formation of the first news-gathering service (a forerunner of the Associated Press). Newspapers subscribed to this service.
Yellow Journalism • Late 1800s • Unethical, irresponsible journalism that involved hoaxes, altered photographs, screaming headlines (like today’s tabloids) • Sensationalism • Geared at selling papers • Most notable yellow journalists: • William Randolph Hearst—New York Journal • Joseph Pulitzer—New York World
Yellow Journalism Spanish-American War: Hearst to Photographer: “You supply the pictures; I’ll supply the war.”
Nellie Bly • One of the most famous female journalists (wrote during the late 1800s) • Noted for her “stunts”—stories in which she was the one making the news • Famous story: • She pretended she was mentally ill and was committed to New York’s Blackwell Island Asylum • Later wrote a story exposing the asylum’s poor conditions, and the story sparked reforms around the country
Investigative Journalism • After the era of yellow journalism, newspapers became crusaders for social causes • Child labor laws, public health, poverty assistance • Investigative reporters were called “muckrakers” by their critics • Government made several reforms—including a reform of the meat-packing insdustry—as a result of the investigative pieces published in newspapers and magazines
Minority Media • The Chicago Defender, founded in 1905 • influential African-American newspaper • Founder, Robert S. Abbott, was the son of slaves • African-American magazines continue to prosper today • Hispanic, Native American, and Asian-American newspapers also are published • Major newspapers and news networks are making a strong effort to attract minority reporters
Technology • Radio: • First news broadcast in 1916 • NBC formed in 1926 and CBS in 1927 • Television: • First television newscast in 1940 • Because of TV news, most newspapers don’t put as much emphasis on “breaking news” • They now try to provide the background on current events that readers didn’t get from the television • Internet: • An option for obtaining news and information with the click of a mouse