BIAGI Chapter 3 Newspapers: Expanding Delivery
Time Frame: 1690 – Today
1690: America’s first newspaper, Publick Occurrences
Before: American newspapers began in colonial America more than 3 centuries ago as one-page sheets that
consisted primarily of announcements (arrival and departures of ships)
First Mass Medium to Deliver News
From 1690 – 1829, newspapers were the only medium that deliver news and info as soon as it happened
Changes occurred through technological developments, and introduction of broadcasting; nonetheless,
newspapers still attract readers
Newspapers are “independent” from gov, thus responsible for keeping public informed
Publishers Fight for an Independent Press
At first, papers were controlled under British gov., marked by “Published by Authority”
First colonial paper angered local authorities
Publick Occurences, the first paper, never made it long bc of gov restrictions.
The Boston News-Letter was the first consecutively issued paper
First American paper to appear without British approval: New England Courant by James Franklin. This
began the tradition of independent press in the country
Benjamin Franklin brings Pennsylvania Gazette and it becomes the most influential and most financially
successful of all colonial newspapers.
BenjFrank Proved that printer could make money without gov sanctions or support
Truth Versus Libel: The Zenger Trial
John Peter Zenger attacked the governor for his incompetence. He was charged with printing false and
seditious language: language that authorities believe could incite (provoke) rebellion against the gov.
He argued truth is the defence against libel; libelous: a false statement that damages a person by
questioning that person’s character or reputation
If what someone publishes is true, the info cannot be considered libelous
Women’s Early Role as Publishers
Colonial women were not allowed to outside of home, thus these women in publishing were notable
Ex) Anna Zenger – learned from her husband
Elizabeth Timothy – continued after death of her husband who published
The Stamp Act
Stamp Act taxed publishers a halfpenny for each issue that was half-sheet or smaller and one penny for a
full sheet. “No taxation without representation”
Many newspapers threatened to stop publication due to this taxation act.
The Alien and Sedition Laws
Journalists often used newspapers as ways to oppose the new gov. So the gov/Congress created the Alien
and Sedition Law to control the critics to publish false, scandalous, and malicious writings – they were
fined and jailed.
Although the laws expired, the Independent press (est by James Franklin in 1721) continued to confront
gov’s desire to restrain criticism.
Newspapers Take Advantage of Early Technology
Advancements in tech allows for faster, wider spread of news to diff people
Established: frontier journalism, ethnic and cultural newspapers, and alternative press
When gold, silver, and adventure led people to move to the West, newspapers were needed in the area,
thus journalists increased. Samuel Clemens, known as Mark Twin, was hired by Territorial Enterprise.
Ethnic and Native American Newspapers
English newspapers didn’t satisfy everyone’s needs. El Misisipi (Spanish); New Yorker Staats-Zeitung (German). Spanish and Germaan immigrants created a
sense of community and ethnic identity through newspapers.
Native paper” Cherokee Phoenix, by Elias Boudinot; published ½ in English, ½ in Cherokee; but the
press was shut down by government.
Dissident Voices Create the Early Alternative Press
Emancipation (liberation) and Women’s suffrage (right to vote) brought new voices to American press.
Alternative/Dissident Press: media that present alternative viewpoints that challenge the mainstream
Papers became outlet for voices of social protest.
Russwurm, Cornish, Douglass, Garrison, Wells, and Swisshelm: used newspapers for social change!
African Americans, Russwurm and Cornish, started Freedom’s Journal, responding to racist attacks
Most important African American pre-Civil War newspaper: Frederick Douglass’ weekly North Star:
“Right is of no Sex-Truth is of no Color-God is the Father of us all, and we are all Brethren.”
The Liberator, by William Lloyd Garrison fought for women’s rights
The first woman to sit on Senate press gallery was Jane Grey Swisshelm after 55 years.
IMPACT PEOPLE: Ida B. Wells uses her pen to fight 19 century racism
o Co-owner of Free Speech and Headlight in Memphis – documented racism
o Against unjustifying lynching (killing) of African Americans
o Wrote under pseudoname, Lola.
o She wrote articles demonstrating unjust acts against African Americans.
Newspapers Seek Mass Audiences and Big Profits
In 1833, Benjamin Day dropped newspaper price to a penny, selling on street everyday, making
newspapers more affordable for many people.
Penny Paper/ Penny Press: newspaper produced by dropping the price of each copy to a penny and
supporting the production cost through advertising. Advertisings took 1 ½ page of 4 page newspaper.
Newspapers Dominate the Early 20 Century
1900s-1930s, newspapers dominated bc it was before radio and TV.
It was the only source for political, cultural, and social issues.
Also the era of greatest newspaper competitions for readers.
Competition Breeds Sensationalism
As many as 10 publishers competed within a region, thus new ways to expand audience was needed.
Pulitzer & Hearst: promoted giveaways, gossip, fabricating (fake) stories to attract people; also revived
and refined Penny Press.
Pulitzer published the first newspaper comics
Hearst added lovelorn (love-ache) column, critiques, and showy promotional events
Yellow Journalism is Born: Hearst’s Role in the Spanish-American War
Pulitzer and Hearst were competing against each other.
Hearst created Yellow Journalism: news that emphasizes crime, sex, and violence
During the Spanish War, Pulitzer and Hearst each wrote exaggerated, irresponsible stories (many
invented) of the war, trying to beat each other.
Both men had inflamed the public unnecessarily about events in Cuba (They blamed the Spanish for the
sunken American ship – no actual data).
The serious consequences of their yellow journalism vividly demonstrated the importance of press
Tabloid Journalism: Selling Sex and Violence
Tabloid Journalism aka Yellow Journalism aka Jazz Journalism
A Tabloid is a small-format newspaper that features large photographs and illustrations (usually 11
inches by 14 inches) along with sensational stories. Large photos with small captions
Sex and violence become hot issues, and became popular in the Daily News.
Unionization Encourages Professionalism
Unionization of newspaper employees standardized wages in first ½ of 20 century. Labor Unions and Typographical Unions were unionized i