The Golden Age of the Newspaper

The Golden Age of the Newspaper

The Golden Age of the Newspaper

The Golden Age of the Newspaper

Synopsis

From the arrival of the penny papers in the 1830s to the coming of radio news around 1930, the American newspaper celebrated its Golden Age and years of greatest influence on society. Born in response to a thirst for news in large eastern cities such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, the mood of the modern metropolitan papers eventually spread throughout the nation. Douglas tells the story of the great innovators of the American press--men like Bennett, Greeley, Bryant, Dana, Pulitzer, Hearst, and Scripps. He details the development of the bond between newspapers and the citizens of a democratic republic and how the newspapers molded themselves into a distinctly American character to become an intimate part of daily life.

Excerpt

In the early years of the twentieth century the daily newspaper was universally accepted as one of the foundation stones of American social life. In those days real authority flowed from the printed word, and the newspaper was clearly one of our most valued cultural institutions. True, many Americans had been shocked by the excesses of sensationalism characteristic of the so-called "yellow journalism" that took root in the 1890s. Many believed that the hundreds of magazines that had popped up almost overnight were products of crass commercialism; they saw in them the greedy hand of advertising hucksters. Still, there was no denying that the periodical press--newspapers and magazines--had forged a vital link with the American people. It had given them their window on the world. Print journalism had brought our sense of national identity into being.

Today we expect much less of the printed word. Critics and historians of recent years have been quick to point out that the electronic media have diluted or supplanted the power of print. The electronic media offer the public more immediate forms of networking and cultural bonding. Marshall McLuhan, a media wizard fashionable in the 1960s, believed that television would blow the print media away by its cool immediacy and its rejection of logical thought patterns. As a benefit, he thought, television would bring us all together in a "global village." The printed page, on the other hand, was demanding, alienating, off-putting.

News by television does provide sudden confrontation and immediacy. Certainly it provokes nervous intensity. But contrary to McLuhan it does . . .

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