The Gilded Age Press, 1865-1900

By Ted Curtis Smythe | Go to book overview

Bibliographical Essay

The Gilded Age is the first period in which a fairly substantial number of trade journals in journalism were published. They are the only publications to provide information on issues affecting the economic, technical, and social history of the press. They provided a font of information on newspaper practices in advertising, circulation, composition, printing, and staffing. Of course, as with trade journals today, one must use them with care. Sometimes writers gave an impression of knowing more than they did, and various organizations, including press manufacturers, typesetting companies, and advertisers provided more than their share of puffery. 1 Some writers provided more opinion than information. Nevertheless, several publications were absolutely necessary in the research for this book, and they are excellent contemporary sources on the newspaper industry for other historians. A select list follows.

George P. Rowell's American Newspaper Reporter and Advertiser's Gazette began as a monthly house organ in November 1866 in New York and, over the years, underwent name and frequency of publication changes. It became a weekly on April 1, 1875. The magazine was primarily issued for those readers interested in advertising, but it contained numerous articles on newspapers and journalistic practices that went beyond advertising. Its lists of newspapers, based on new starts or ownership, evolved in 1869 into Rowell's The American Newspaper Directory. It was biased toward newspaper advertising as compared with circulars, elevated railroads, billboards, and magazines. Rowell sold the trade journal in December 1877.

In September 1883, R.F. Yorkston started the American Journalist in St. Louis. The magazine represented “the working writers of the press through-out the land.” 2 The first volume contained two special articles on women in journalism, and the journal treated all reporters with respect. Each issue contained a list of editors and reporters by newspaper. The lists were intended to facilitate communication among journalists, but they were a boon to those publicists sharp enough to direct news releases to the appropriate editor. The journal lasted until 1885.

Perhaps the most useful newspaper trade magazine in the 1880s and 1890s was The Journalist, started as a weekly in 1884 by Allan Forman, Charles A. Byrne, and Leander Richardson. All three editors had strong biases that were reflected in the journal. Forman

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