Chapter 3: Newspapers – Expanding Delivery
Jan 20, 2011 the New York Times began charging for online content. Their website is the
country’s most popular newspaper website, with more than 17 million readers a month.
They also have an ipad app.
TimeFrame 1690 – Today:
1690 – Public Occurrences = america’s first newspaper published.
1721 – James Franklin publishes New England Courant, 1 newspaper to be published
without Crown’s publish authority sanction.
1734 – Anna Zenger (wife of John Peter Zenger) became the 1 women publisher after
her husband went to jail. She published the New York Weekly Journal.
1808 – El Misisipi = America’s 1 Spanish newspaper, began in Georgia.
1827 – John B Russwurm and Reverend Samuel Cornish launch Freedom’s Journal, 1 st
newspaper directed specifically at Black audiences.
1828 – Elias Boudinot launches Cherokee Phoenix
1831 – Boston, William Lloyd Garrison launches the abolitionist newspaper The
1847 – Frederick Douglass introduces weekly North Star, the most important pre civil
war newspaper for Black audiences.
1848 – Jane Grey Swisshelm promoted women rights through publishing Pittsburgh
Saturday visitor, also an abolitionist newspaper.
1889 – Ida B Wells becomes part owner of Memphis Free Speech and Headlight, begins
her anti-lynching campaign.
1900 – 1/3 of American newspaper follow the popular trend toward yellow journalism.
1950 – Newspaper reading declined following the introduction of the TV.
1982 – Gannett Co. Creates USA Today, using colours throughout the paper.
1990s – Newspapers launch more sections such as teen and women sections in an attempt
to attract more audiences. Some even launched Spanish editions.
2009 – Tribune Co. files bankruptcy protection. Denver’s Rock mountain News and
Seattle Post-Intelligencer close down. 2011 – New York Times begins charging online content.
Today – Large newspaper companies were buying the smaller ones. To attract younger
people, they expanded into the internet editions and on-demand features. Declining ad
revenues caused many newspapers to close.
In 1882, Harrison
- Chicago based Tribune Co. bought Times Mirror Co. in 2000, including Los
angeles times, newsday, Baltimore sun newspapers and other media properties for
- In 2007, Tribune Co was bought off by Sam Zell for $8.2 billion. A year later in
December 2008, Tribune Co. filed bankruptcy protection.
- The switching of ownerships of newspaper companies in relatively short periods
of time represented a precarious economy of the newspaper business today.
- Newspaper used to be one page reports of ship arrivals and departures as well as
old Europe news, but it has evolved into large columns of information spanning
hundreds of pages for Sunday versions. However, newspapers today are just one
of the many large media companies.
First mass medium to deliver news:
- 1690 to 1920, newspapers were the only mass news medium. There was no
competition thr newspaper businesses.
- In early 20 century, broadcasting was invented, which delivered news even
quicker but people still very much read newspapers.
- Newspapers developed the concept of independent press which kept government
from controlling what is being told to the public.
Publishers Fight for an independent press:
- At first, newspapers were mouthpieces of the british government, news had to be
approved by them. They subsidized many newspapers, publishers printed
“published by authority” on the papers.
- Publick Occurrences was recognized as America’s 1 newspaper. It only had one
edition because local authority stopped it.
- The Boston News-Letter, in 1704 had consecutive issues, a nation’s first.
James Franklin’s New England Courant establishes independent press traditions. First
American paper without british authority being stamped on it.
Benjamin Franklin introduces competition. Younger brother of James Franklin, published
Pennsylvania Gazette to compete with the American Weekly Mercury. The Gazette
became the most financially successful of all colonial newspapers.
Truth vs. Libel: The Zenger Trial – John Peter Zenger published New York Weekly
Journal in 1733 which attacked the Governor, William Cosby for incompetence. He then
got arrested for seditious writing. His wife Anna continued the newspaper. During the trial, defence lawyer argued truth was a defence against libel, Zenger’s words were true.
Publishing true new will defend newspapers against libel charges.
Women’s early role as publishers – earlier colonial women printers such as Anna Zenger,
usually belonged to printing families that trained wives and daughters to print. By the
American revolution, only 14 women were printers in the colonies. Elizabeth Timothy
became editor of the weekly South Carolina Gazette, when her husband died. Elizabeth
and her son peter ran the business together until 1746 when Peter took over formally.
Birth of the partisan press – colonies were dissatisfied under british rule, newspapers
became a political tool that fostered colonial independence.
The Stamp Act – Publishers were taxed halfpenny for half sheet and a penny for full
sheet. Advertisements were also taxed. Colonies fought the Act along side even the
- the Act was repealed in 1766, march 18 . th
The Alien and Sedition Laws
- journalists often used newspapers to oppose new government. The alien and
sedition laws passed by congress in 1798 were the first attempt to control the
- “anyone who shall write, print, or publish false, scandalous and malicious
writing(s) against the government of united states could be fined up to $2000 and
2 years in jail”
- The laws expired after 2 years and were no renewed. American independent press
continued to confront government’s desire to restrain critcism.
Technology Helps Newspapers Reach New audiences:
- New printing technology meant newspapers could reach a wider audience faster
- Gold and silver attracted people to the West of America, they needed newspapers.
Indian Gazette, Texas Gazette, etc were ready to meet that need.
- The telegraph invention aided newspapers by moving news easily from coast to
- The most celebrated journalist was Samuel Clemens, who traveled to Nevada in
1861 prospecting for silver. Open land attracted a lot of journalists.
- Clemens was employed by Virginia city’s Territorial Enterprise, largest paper
business in the area for 25 dollars a week. He signed his name as ‘Mark Twain’.
Ethnic and Native American Newspapers:
- Early 1800s, many newspapers tried to cater to ethnic and cultural interests. There
were Spanish editions and German too.
- Spanish and German immigrants used their newspapers to create a sense of
community and ethnic identity. - Native Americans too felt a need to express their culture through newspapers,
they especially wanted to voice their complaints. The first Native American
newspaper came in 1828 (Cherokee Phoenix).
- The paper was shut down in 1832 because authorities felt it roused
Dissident Voices Create the Early Alternative Press:
- Social movements like Emancipation and Woman’s suffrage brought new voices
to the press. New voices in the American press introduced Alternative Press,
which is media that presents alternative views that challenges the mainstream.
- Alternative press influenced newspapers to become outlets for voices of social
protest, a tradition that continues even today. Dissident press = alternative press.
- John B. Russwurm, Rev. Samuel Cornish, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd
Garrison, Jane Grey Swishelm and Ida B. Wells used alternative press to advocate
for abolition of slavery and suffrage of women.
- Russwurm and Cornish started the Freedom Journal in New York City. The paper
was not successful, came under racist attacks by other newspapers, but it started
the African American press tradition that led to more newspapers.
- Douglass published the most important African America newspaper pre-civil war,
North Star. The newspaper reached 3000 subscribers in the States and abroad
with its emancipation message – Right is of no Sex, Truth is of no Colour, God is
the father of us all and we are all brethren.
- Garrison published The Liberator, abolitionist newspaper in Boston. A white man
fighting slavery and advocating women rights, he was attacked by a mob in 1835.
He survived because the boston mayor put him in jail for his own protection.
- Wells and Swisshelm (both are female) also advocated for civil rights, through
Spirit of Liberty & Pittsburgh Saturday Visiter.
- 1850, Swisshelm became the first female journalist to sit in the Senate press
gallery, traditionally all male journalists for 55 years.
Newspapers Seek Mass Audiences and Big Profits:
- Most people couldn't afford to subscribe to a daily newspaper. It was too
expensive. Banjamin Day dropped the price of a newspaper to a penny and selling
the paper on the street everyday.
- Day’s New York Sun featured stories for the working class. His paper had
advertising so he could afford selling papers for pennies.
- The New York Times was a penny paper when it began.
Newspapers Dominate the Early 20 Century:th
- Before radio and TV, newspaper was king of