Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers

Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers

Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers

Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers

Synopsis

This instructive and entertaining social history of American newspapers shows that the very idea of impartial, objective "news" was the social product of the democratization of political, economic, and social life in the nineteenth century. Professor Schudson analyzes the shifts in reportorial style over the years and explains why the belief among journalists and readers alike that newspapers must be objective still lives on.

Excerpt

In December, 1896, William Randolph Hearst, a newcomer to New York journalism who had recently become owner and editor of the New York Journal, sent Richard Harding Davis and Frederic Remington to Havana to cover the conflict there between Spanish authorities and Cuban insurgents. Remington was a thirty-five-year-old artist whose drawings appeared frequently in newspapers and popular magazines. Davis, at thirty-two, was already a popular culture hero through his reporting, his fiction, and his stylish manner. Hearst offered him $3,000 for a month of reporting from Cuba; Davis counted as well on $600 from Harper's for an article on his travels, and he had promises that his dispatches would be collected with Remington's drawings and published in book form.

Like other reporters in Cuba, Davis and Remington were barred from the "war zone" by Spanish military authorities. News was hard to get. Rumors and minor incidents were generally the best the correspondents had to offer. This so discouraged Remington that he wired Hearst: "Everything is quiet. There is no trouble here. There will be no war. Wish . . .

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