journalism, the collection and periodic publication or transmission of news through media such as newspaper, periodical, television, and radio.
The importance of journalism in modern society has been testified to by the establishment of schools of journalism at most of the world's leading universities. The earliest in the United States was established at the Univ. of Wisconsin (1905). Other early schools were at the Univ. of Missouri (1908) and Columbia Univ., whose school of journalism was endowed in 1903 but did not open until 1912. American schools of journalism have proliferated throughout the 20th cent.
Journalism dates at least from the Acta Diurna of Rome (a series of public announcements that can be considered the prototype of the modern newspaper), but it was not until the 15th cent. that the invention of printing made possible its rapid growth. Daniel Defoe has been called the first journalist, as distinct from a writer. Modern journalism, however, began in the latter years of the 18th cent. with each venture serving, as it does in many countries to this day, as the proponent and voice of a political party or social group. Even in the 19th cent. journalists, despite their increased liberties in England and the United States, were largely controlled by political parties.
Except where it is under totalitarian state control, journalism has never been a monolithic enterprise, but has ranged as it continues to do from sensational pseudofact and scandal to high-quality reporting, evaluation, and opinion. Enterprising American newspaper editors in the mid-19th cent. influenced other journalistic media (e.g., the muckraking magazine and the independent periodical).
Technological Advance, Journalistic Change
Changes in journalism in the 20th cent. were fueled by technological advances: the teletypewriter (1904); long-range radio reception (1913); television (1930s–40s); communications satellite (1960s) transmission of data, voice, and video. Almost every new application in communications, data storage and retrieval, and image processing affects the way people get their news. While the influence of the print journalist may have declined in the face of technological advances and the growth of the news agency, radio reporters, such as Edward R. Murrow in the 1940s; television news broadcasters, such as Walter Cronkite from the 1950s through the 1970s; and many later television anchors and reporters became familiar names reporting events as they happened (e.g., the London blitz, funeral of John F. Kennedy, manned moon landing, Gulf and Iraq wars).
By broadcasting events such as the Watergate hearings, controversial Supreme Court nomination hearings, and sensational criminal trials, television has in some ways minimized the journalist. Yet reports by journalists of the World Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation and Cable News Network, owned by Ted Turner and based in Atlanta, are transmitted around the world and provide news to world leaders in times of crisis.
The proliferation of cable television in the United States since the mid-1970s has led to a variety of news channels. As with print journalism, television journalism ranges from sensational, "tabloid" news shows ( "Inside Edition" ) to extensive journalistic coverage and interviews with government figures ( "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer" ) to a cable channel offering live, unedited coverage of congressional proceedings (C-SPAN).
See J. Hohenberg, The New Front Page (1966); A. K. MacDougall, ed., The Press (1972); R. A. Rutland, The Newsmongers (1973); D. Halberstam, The Powers that Be (1979); E. Diamond, Sign Off (1982); P. Seib, Who's in Charge? (1989); E. Case, The Press (1989); E. Bliss, Now the News: The Story of Broadcast Journalism (1991).