History of Journalism

Identify the following:
The first continuously published newspaper
The first newspaper affordable to the masses
The case that set a precedent for freedom of the
The first nationally published daily newspaper
History of Print Journalism
Newspapers have not always
been the sophisticated, fullcolor extravaganzas we know
today. American journalism
had its humble beginnings in
the Colonial period with the
publication of Benjamin
Harris’ Publick Occurrences
Both Forreign and Domestick,
which was shut down after its
one and only issue on Sept. 26,
1690. (See note)
This newspaper was
printed on three
sheets of stationerysize paper and the
fourth page was left
blank so that readers
could add their own
news before passing
it on to someone else.
Unfortunately, the
essays which this
paper contained did
not please the
authorities, and
Harris had not
bought the required
license, so the paper
was shut down after
just one issue.
The first continuously
published American
newspaper did not come
along for 14 more years.
The Boston News-Letter
premiered on April 24,
1704. The publisher was
John Campbell. The
paper originally appeared
on a single page, printed
on both sides and issued
One of the most
sensational stories
published when the NewsLetter was the only
newspaper in the colonies
was the account of how
Blackbeard the pirate
was killed in hand-tohand combat on the deck
of a sloop that had
engaged his ship in battle.
Perhaps the most famous
name in early American
journalism is that of Peter
Zenger. Publisher of the New
York Weekly Journal, Zenger
was accused and tried for
libel against the colonial
British government in 1735.
In this picture, Zenger is
arrested and his printing
press is burned by Colonial
Zenger was found innocent and it was that one verdict that paved
the way for a free and independent press in America. For the first
time it was considered proper for the press to question and criticize
the government. This is a pillar of a free press in the United States
and any country that is free. Journalists have to be able to question
the actions of the government in order to make them accountable.
All that is needed for newspapers to become a mass
medium is a good idea. Along comes Benjamin Day in
1833. Day opened the New York Sun and created the
Penny Press, charging only one cent per issue, making
newspapers affordable, for the first time, for the masses.
He also changed the content of newspapers to make it
more sensational and more popular to the lower class. He
hired boys to sell the newspapers on street corners. It was
the Penny Press that also began using advertising as a
way to bring readers information, but advertising also
helped by paying for the printing and distribution of
The Civil War era brought some “new” technology
to the publishing industry. Photography became a
popular addition to newspapers. Matthew Brady
set up a camera on the battlefields and
photographed the soldiers at war. One of his
photographs appears above.
An invention
that helped
speed news
along was the
Reporters were
able to send
encoded news
back to their
papers as it was
Abraham Lincoln became
the first president to
direct armies in the field
directly from the White
Olga Tsapina, Norris Foundation curator of American
Historical Manuscripts at the Huntington Library, holds
a book of telegraph ledgers. The telegraph ledger
contains the text of a message sent by Abraham
Lincoln. (Walt Mancini / Staff Photographer)
Because the telegraph wires kept going down on a
regular basis, sometimes the story that a reporter
was trying to send got cut off before it was
The Pony Express bridged the gap between the
East and West sections during construction.
The Overland Pony Express
Harper's Weekly, November 2, 1867
Photographed by Savage, Salt Lake City
From a Painting by George M. Ottinger.
To alleviate this
developed the
pyramid” form
of writing,
putting the most
important facts
at the beginning
of the story.
This way, the
most important
part of the story
would most likely
reach the
newspaper, and
if anything got
cut off, it would
be the lesser
important details
of what
In the mid-1890s, Pulitzer (in the New York World) and
Hearst (in the San Francisco Examiner and later the
New York Morning Journal) transformed newspapers
with sensational and scandalous news coverage, the use
of drawings and the inclusion of more features such as
comic strips.
After Pulitzer
began publishing
color comic
sections that
included a strip
entitled "The
Yellow Kid" (left)
in early 1896, this
type of paper was
labeled "yellow
The Yellow Kid was the name of a lead comic strip character that ran from 1895
to 1898 in Joseph Pulitzer's New York World, and later William Randolph
Hearst's New York Journal.
Created and drawn by Richard F. Outcault in the comic strip Hogan's Alley (and
later under other names as well), it was one of the first Sunday supplement
comic strips in an American newspaper, although its graphical layout had
already been thoroughly established in political and other, purely-forentertainment cartoons.
The Yellow Kid is also famous for its connection to the coining of the term,
Yellow Journalism.
One of the most popular
reporters of the Yellow
Journalism era was a woman
named Elizabeth Cochrane
who wrote under the name
“Nellie Bly.” She wrote with
anger and compassion. She
wrote to expose the many
wrongs that developed in
nineteenth century cities after
the industrial boom. Most of
her reporting was on women.
Nellie Bly
At the time women who worked at newspapers almost always wrote articles on
gardening, fashion or society. Nellie Bly eschewed these topics for hard
pressing stories on the poor and oppressed. Drawing from her mother's
experience, she wrote on the inherent disadvantages women had in divorce
proceedings. She also wrote numerous articles on the lives of poor women who
worked in Pittsburgh's bottle factories. Nellie's articles fascinated readers, but
drew criticism from the business community. When companies threatened to
pull advertising from the Dispatch because of her articles, Nellie was assigned
to a gardening story. When she turned in the article, she included her
 The
high point in her
life, however was the
round-the-world trip,
which she made in 72
days, 6 hours,11
minutes and 14
 Joseph Pulitzer sent
a special train to
meet her return to
San Francisco, and
she was greeted by
fireworks, gun
salutes, brass bands
and parade on
In 1895 Nellie Bly (30)
married a millionaire,
Robert Seaman, 40 years
older than herself, and
She lost most of his money
after he died and in 1919
tried unsuccessfully to make
a comeback. She died in
The American public purchased more
newspapers because of the sensational writing,
and this strongly encouraged Hearst and
Pulitzer’s newspapers to write more
sensationalized stories.
This cartoon made fun of the way Hearst and
Pulitzer were each claiming to “own” the story
about the Spanish-American War.
As the U.S. population in the latter half of the 20th
century has shifted from cities to suburbs, and with
the growth in competition from other media, many
large city newspapers have had to cease publication,
merge with their competitors, or be taken over by a
chain of newspaper publishers such as the Gannett
Company or Knight-Ridder Inc.
When USA TODAY launched in 1982, a computerized word
processing system designed by Atex, Inc., of Bedford, Mass. was
the heart of the USA TODAY production system. The editorial staff
wrote and edited stories on video display terminals (VDTs). The
stories would then go to phototypesetters to be set in photographic
form (positive type on a paper film), which in turn was then pasted
up into the various USA TODAY pages. The ATEX system was
phased out in summer 1999.
The Technology Behind
Without the technologies of communications satellites and high-resolution
facsimile transmission, USA TODAY could not exist. The USA TODAY
newspaper you picked up on the newsstand this morning traveled more than
44,600 miles through space at the speed of light before it arrived at the printing
plant last night.
USA TODAY is completely edited and composed in McLean, Virginia. It is
then transmitted, via satellite, five days a week, to the thirty-six printing plants
serving major market clusters across the USA, and to four printing plants
serving Europe and Asia.
The satellite signal that carries the domestic edition of USA TODAY is sent in
one-eighth of a second to two GE Americom satellites, the GE4 and GE2,
parked in stationary orbit 22,300 miles above the earth over the United States.
Instantaneously, the signal is beamed back earthward, and another eighth of a
second later is received simultaneously at the printing sites.
Since the invention of the telegraph, which
enormously facilitated the rapid gathering of news,
the great news agencies, such as Reuters in
England, Agence France-Presse in France, and
Associated Press and United Press International in
the United States, have sold their services to
newspapers and to their associate members.
Four of the world’s largest news agencies have
added their voices to the mounting tsunami of
opposition against the proposed media appeals
tribunal and Protection of Information Bill.
Agence France Presse, The Associated Press,
Bloomberg and Reuters have written to
President Jacob Zuma, expressing their
By the 1990s this technology had also affected the
nature of newspapers, as the first independent on-line
daily appeared on the Internet. By the decade's end
some 700 papers had web sites, some of which carried
news gathered by their own staffs, and papers regularly
scooped themselves by publishing electronically before
the print edition appeared.
Works Cited