Academic journal article Journalism History

The Popular Press, 1833-1865

Academic journal article Journalism History

The Popular Press, 1833-1865

Article excerpt

Huntzicker, William. The Popular Press, 1833-1865. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. 224 pp. $65.

This profusely documented study of one of the most dynamic periods in American media history should help answer the perpetual question that bedevils many historians about what to study next. It is elementary: pick a topic from the period, look at the author's references, and see what he has to say about it Seasoned scholars will find much to recommend the book while graduate students will find this volume of particular use in plotting a research area.

William Huntzicker has taken what he calls the popular press, that period beginning with the penny press and ending with the Civil War, and presented a study at once richly detailed and broadly painted. Written in a lively yet scholarly style, the book provides a useful overview of the evolution of American journalism from partisan mouthpiece to moderately independent voice.

Admittedly,journalists of most of the period were driven by many of the same forces that fueled the newspaper wars of later eras. However, national government was beginning to lose the battle for control to broader ethnic, cultural, and economic movements. The newspapers of the period were a diverse lot, representing a range of cultural, social, and partisan persuasions.

The author appears to have achieved what he set out to accomplish. Focusing on the trends, events, and journalists in journalism history and the relationship of the media to the larger society, this book explains much about the nature of media and the history of American journalism. Of particular use are the discussions of partisan and reform groups in the years leading to the Civil War.

The individual topics of the book suggest how well the author has covered the period Opening with a discussion of the penny press and the newspaper wars which grew out of those conflicts, Huntzicker spends a chapter arguing that partisan journalism, far from being a drop-dead event, was tenacious in its ability to influence journalism long after its era was supposed to have passed. …

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