Media, Information and Technoculture 2000F/G Chapter Notes -Making Money, Sensationalism

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Kearns 5
Reading Summary
“Public Myth and Private Reality”
Minko Sotiron
In this article Sotirn explains the change between the newspaper in the 1800’s and the
newspaper in the 1900’s, which became much less educational and much more commercialized
and sensational. In the 1800’s the press became known as a “Fourth Estate”; it was believed that
the newspaper had a responsibility to educate the public. But with more and more newspapers
growing dependent on advertising it was the concern of some that the newspaper was “lessen[ing
]its social influence” (141). Newspapers started to revolve around making money, nothing more.
It was harder to publish an opinion in a newspaper because of the cost. However many
newspapers still claimed to have a goal of educating the public and “improv[ing] society” (142).
But more newspapers were devoting more space to entertainment news and trivial material.
People were no longer reading about the opinions of the editors or what happened in political
debates. They were more interest in comics and sensational stories now. Newspapers got more
expensive to produce so publishers had to resort to “aggressive promotional strategies” (144).
Newspapers changed in appearance and storytelling. They had to be eye catching so graphic
design became more important. Stories were not presented in chronological order, but with the
most dramatic part posted first. Sensationalism made newspapers money; those facing strong
competition or not making enough money already resorted to it to stay in business. Politics and
“university language” became less important as comic strips and straight, to the point language
took over.
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