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Newspapers & the Rise of Modern Journalism
Colonial Newspapers l Sept. 25, 1690: Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestick, by Boston printer Benjamin Harris. l Banned after one issue.
“Whereas some have lately presumed to Print and Disperse a Pamphlet, Entitled, Publick Occurrences, both Forreign and Domestick: Boston, Thursday, Septemb. 25 th, 1690. Without the least Privity and Countenace of Authority. The Governour and Council having had the perusal of said Pamphlet, and finding that therein contained Reflections of a very high nature: As also sundry doubtful and uncertain Reports, do hereby manifest and declare their high Resentment and Disallowance of said Pamphlet, and Order that the same be Suppressed and called in; strickly forbidden any person or persons for the future to Set forth any thing in Print without License first obtained from those that are or shall be appointed by the Government to grant the same. "
Colonial Newspapers • • • New-York Weekly Journal (est. 1733, ed. John Peter Zenger). Belonged to Popular Party and criticized Royal Governor of New York. Zenger arrested in 1734, charged with seditious libel. Sympathetic jury rules in 1735 that newspapers have a right to criticize public officials, as long as report is true.
Colonial Newspapers l By 1765, about 30 newspapers in American colonies l Two types: l l Political/partisan press Commercial press
Ben Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette, Jan. 2, 1750
Colonial Newspapers • • • Read by relatively few political and mercantile elites About 6 cents each/$10 -12 year subscription Circulations 1000 -2000 for most popular 1791: First Amendment
The Penny Press • • 1830 1840 650 weeklies 65 dailies 1, 141 weeklies 138 dailies U. S. Population • 1830 12. 9 million (. 9 million urban) • 1840 17. 1 million (1. 5 million urban)
The Penny Press • • New York Sun (Sept. 3, 1833), ed. Benjamin Day New York Herald (est. 1835), ed. James Gordon Bennett New York Tribune (est. 1841), ed. Horace Greeley New York Times (est. 1851) ed. Henry Raymond
The Penny Press • • • Jacksonian Era Universal white male suffrage Nation expanding westward Cheaper paper/steam-powered press Higher literacy rates Favored human interest stories Developed beat reporting Rise of classified ads (want ads) Printed nearly every advertisement (patent medicines, etc. )
The Penny Press
Big City Papers l Rise of consumer ethos l Sociological shift in U. S. population: • • 1880: 80% rural 1920: 80% urban 20% rural
The Age of Yellow Journalism Pulitzer, New York World, 1883 Hearst, New York Journal, 1895
The Age of Yellow Journalism • Put in visuals, maps, pictures • Sensational human interest stories • LOTS of ads • Rise of consumer ethos=Sociological shift.
The Age of Yellow Journalism The “Yellow Kid” cartoon by R. F. Outcault
R. F. Outcault’s work
Buster Brown by R. F. Outcault
The Age of Yellow Journalism • • The Spanish-American War, 1898 U. S. S. Maine
The Age of Yellow Journalism • • The Spanish-American War, 1898 U. S. S. Maine
Hearst’s New York Journal, after Feb. 15, 1898 explosion of U. S. S. Maine
l Artist Frederic Remington telegrammed Hearst to tell him all was quiet in Cuba and "There will be no war. " l Hearst responded "Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war. "
Citizen Kane = Randolph Hearst Referencing the Spanish American war Referencing the Yellow Kid =
“Pulitzer's audacity, and historical accomplishment, lay in trying to supply it all -- high-minded editorials and socially conscious crusades alongside a gritty procession of headless corpses, adulterous clergy, and circulationboosting stunts. He offered readers a journalistic supermarket, not a Holiday Inn. ” --Richard Norton Smith, CJR
The Advent of Modern Journalism l Ochs and the New York Times, 1896 “just the facts” • The idea of objectivity as a marketing tool
l Style influenced by AP wire service (1848) and Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s Sec. of War • Since national and international newspapers reflected a wide range of political orthodoxies, wire service reporters and editors stayed neutral. • Also: the less words, the cheaper to transmit over the wires.
The Inverted Pyramid 1) most important details - 5 Ws and H 2) key quotes, supporting evidence 3) supporting facts, more details 4) supporting quotes, more explanation 5) least important details Cut from bottom up
l Edward Stanton’s wire report of Lincoln’s assassination, 1865: l “This evening, at about 9: 30 P. M. , at Ford’s Theater, the President, while sitting in his private box with Mrs. Lincoln, Mrs. Harris and Major Rathburn, was shot by an assassin, who suddenly entered the box and approached behind the President--The wound is mortal. ”
Interpretive Journalism • Objective style becomes standard by 1920 s • Limits of objectivity begin to become apparent. After WWI, some newspapers begin to explore analytical function of news. [Wider use of newspaper columns] • Press-Radio War. Newspapers angry at broadcasters for reading their news. [Development of broadcast commentary]
New Journalism (circa 1960 s) • • • Again, criticism of objective-style reporting Advocacy Journalism Precision Journalism
New Journalism (circa 1960 s) • • • Literary Journalism Roots in writers like Mark Twain Stephen Crane James Agee Ernest Hemingway A. J. Leibling Lillian Ross John Steinbeck Contemporary Practioners: Hunter S. Thompson (gonzo journalism), Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote, Joan Didion. Later John Mc. Phee, Tracy Kidder.
Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘ 72 (1973) There is nothing in Mc. Govern’s campaign, so far, to suggest that he understands this kind of thing. For all his integrity, he is still talking to the Politics of the Past. He is still naïve enough to assume that anybody who is honest and intelligent—with a good voting record on “the issues”—is a natural man for the White House.
Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘ 72 (1973) But this is stone bullshit. There are only two ways to make it in big-time politics today: One is to come on like a mean dinosaur, with a high-powered machine that scares the shit out of your entrenched opposition (like Daley or Nixon). . . and the other is to tap the massive, frustrated energies of a mainly young, disillusioned electorate that has long since abandoned the idea that we all have a duty to vote. This is like being told you have a duty to buy a new car, but you have to choose immediately between a Ford and a Chevy.
Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff (1979) But Jane has heard nothing except that other husbands, and not hers, are safe and accounted for. And thus, on a sunny day in Florida, outside of the Jacksonville Naval Air Station, in a little white cottage, a veritable dream house, another beautiful young woman was about to be apprised of the quid pro quo of her husband's line of work, of the trade off, as one might say, the subparagraphs of a contract written in no visible form. Just as surely as if she had the entire roster in front of her, Jane now realized that only two men in the squadron were unaccounted for. One was a pilot named Bud Jennings; the other was Pete. She picked up the telephone and did something that was much frowned on in a time of emergency. She called the squadron office. The duty officer answered.
Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff (1979) "I want to speak to Lieutenant Conrad, " said Jane. "This is Mrs. Conrad. " "I'm sorry, " the duty officer said—and then his voice cracked. "I'm sorry. . . I. . . " He couldn't find the words! He was about to cry! "I'm—that's—I mean. . . he can't come to the phone!" He can't come to the phone! "It's very important!" said Jane.
Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff (1979) "I'm sorry—it's impossible—" The duty officer could hardly get the words out because he was so busy gulping back sobs. Sobs! "He can't come to the phone. " "Why not? Where is he? " "I'm sorry—" More sighs, wheezes, snuffling gasps. "I can't tell you that. I—I have to hang up now!" And the duty officer's voice disappeared in a great surf of emotion and he hung up.
Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff (1979) The duty officer! The very sound of her voice was more than he could take! The world froze, congealed, in that moment. Jane could no longer calculate the interval before the front doorbell would ring and some competent long-faced figure would appear, some Friend of Widows and Orphans, who would inform her, officially, that Pete was dead.
Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968) This is a story about love and death in the golden land, and begins with the country. The San Bernadino Valley lies only an hour east of Los Angeles by San Bernadino Freeway but is in certain ways an alien place; not the coastal California of the subtropical twilights and the soft westerlies off the Pacific, but a harsher California, haunted by the Mojave just beyond the mountains, devastated by the hot drop Santa Ana wind that comes down the passes at 100 miles an hour and whines through the eucalyptus windbreaks and works on the nerves.
Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1968) October is the bad month for the wind, the month when breathing is difficult and the hills blaze up spontaneously. There has been no rain since April. Every voice seems a scream. It is the season of suicide and divorce and prickly dread, wherever the wind blows.
Literary Journalism • • Differences from objective-style? Strengths/weaknesses?
European Journalism l l Much more based on interpretation of “the facts” Journalists are more respected: their opinions are valued
Contemporary Journalism Emphasis on “infotainment”
Consensus vs. Conflict in Newspapers
News Values 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Timeliness Proximity Prominence Consequence Human interest
Objectivity not a science, but a style of reporting. “Facts” are just not out there, but are organized in a culturally meaningful practice.
Conventions of Objectivity l l Detached 3 rd person point of view Two sides to every story Use of quotes/soundbites to create drama Keep the story in the present
Conventions of Objectivity l Detached 3 rd person point of view l l This is a style, a storytelling strategy, but not scientifically objective. This style favors easily accessible, EXPERT sources This style favors polls/surveys This style favors stenography journalism THE CASE OF RICHARD JEWELL
Conventions of Objectivity l Two sides to every story l l l creates a false sense of totality creates phony sense of debate. . . quotes from 2 different people set up as debate. a narrative strategy to create conflict.
Conventions of Objectivity l Use of quotes/soundbites to create drama l Selection of best quotes/SOUNDBITES is not an objective process.
Conventions of Objectivity l Keep the story in the present l This FORCES modern journalism to avoid context.