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8. The History of Newspapers

8. The History of Newspapers

“A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it,” James Madison said, “is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy.” -James Madison

I would take you down the long and storied road of newspaper’s history, I really would but I’ve always been of a mind that if someone has done it better than I can – why not pass the baton to them.

In this entry for Collier’s Encyclopedia, Mitchell Stephens takes you on a whirlwind tour of the newspaper, from the 1st Amendment, through New Your City’s first newspaper (New York Gazette, founded by William Bradford in 1725) all the way through Yellow Journalism (which we’ll talk about next) and the rise of television and radio.

It’s a dense, lucid exploration and well worth the time to read. It stops short of exploring the rise of the Internet, but it does give a great deal of perspective on what led up to the paper that so many people enjoy today.

If you don’t have enough time to make your way through Mitchell’s piece, the World Association of Newspapers has a timeline that will walk you through the cliff-notes.

Here are some highlights,

59 B.C. Acta Diurna is published in Rome. Julius Caesar orders the major political and social events of the day to be made available to his citizenry. State appointed reporters, called “actuarii”, gather information on everything from wars and legal decisions to births, deaths, and marriages

1690 Publick Occurrences is the first newspaper published in America when it appears in Boston. The editor, Benjamin Harris, stated he would issue the paper “once a month, or, if any Glut of Occurrences happen, oftener.” The royal authority, wary of publications printed without its express consent, suppresses the newspaper after only one issue.

1880 First photographs appear in a newspaper

1994 First independent on-line daily appears on the World Wide Web.

When you take a look back, what you notice more than anything else is how closely the history of newspapers aligns with the “history” of blogging.

Now for two different perspectives, one above (CBS’ Fast Draw) and one below, Larry Weber, author, marketer and PR expert.

Sound familiar?

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