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15. American Newspapers: Facts and Figures (1870)

15. American Newspapers: Facts and Figures  (1870)

“…The profession of journalism has grown immensely in power and importance; its members do not now publish the Bible in installments when domestic news becomes scarce, but are overcrowded with that which ought justly to have a place and are only troubled with the difficulty of finding room for what is necessary.

The traditions of the printing house have changed ; the editor is no longer addressed as Mr. Printer; the publisher is not the writer, but is rather an eminent commercial man, and cares little about the views expressed by the journal ; the race of reporters, of whom Johnson and Memory Woodfall were the first, has been entirely the growth of the last century, and the application of their labors to local news is of so recent a date that many middle-aged men of New-York can recollect when a reporter was looked upon as a spy and an eaves-dropper. All the procedures of the journal of today differ from those of Franklin or of Isaiah Thomas.”

This is an article from the New York Times from 1870. Let’s see how modern news media matches up:

Well, we definitely don’t refer to editors as Mr. Printer, but that’s probably because the job of editor is distributed across up to a half-dozen people in the mainstream press and on the new media side, it wouldn’t make much sense because print is about as far removed from blogging as the teletype.

Publisher as the writer? In the mainstream press the publisher is still about as far removed from writing as you can be, but when you look to blogs you see a shift, where the publisher is acting as the primary writer. The reason is size and ease of publishing. Most blogs are small operations where everyone needs to be willing to wear several hats, and since the technology is so strongly tied to the reporting the job of the publisher can pretty easily mesh with the job of reporter.

Reporters as spies? Watch the clips.

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