Academic journal article Journalism History

The Public Press, 1900-1945

Academic journal article Journalism History

The Public Press, 1900-1945

Article excerpt

Teel, Leonard Ray. The Public Press, 1900-1945. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2006. 295 pp. $149.95.

This is the fifth in a series on the press in America, edited by James D. Startt and William David Sloan. With the onset of the media age during the book's chronology, this volume of scholarship obviously provides more challenge than that of each of the series' four preceding volumes. Leonard Teel deals with historical details such as ballooning mass circulation of newspapers, the advent of newsreels and radio, precipitous increases in magazine circulation, the rise of the middle class, the two most devastating wars in history, and the world's most pervasive economic depression.

Chronicling such a time period in less than 300 pages provided a daunting challenge and forced Teel to make the difficult choice of branching out from the usual topics covered in media history texts or expanding the themes already common to those same texts. With a few exceptions, he chose the latter route. For instance, where a media history primer might have spent three pages on muckraking, Teel has the luxury of fifteen pages, but, especially in the first two decades of the century, he concentrates on predictable themes such as professionalism in journalism, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, muckraking magazines, coverage of World War I, and the Committee on Public Information. During the entire book, he also focuses on the rise of newspapers and magazines, as he explains in the book's preface.

The second half of the book is livelier and more imaginative, especially the segment addressing the problems of African Americans and the African American press and the establishment of the American Newspaper Guild. For instance, of the challenges faced by blacks in Chicago after World War I, Teel writes, "The Chicago riot started when blacks allegedly crossed an imaginary line at a segregated lakefront beach. …

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