A History of American Journalism in the 20th Century

In the quest for increased readership, newspaper editors began to publish sensational headlines and lurid stories. By Dr. Rick MusserProfessor Emeritus of JournalismUniversity of Kansas Introduction This article focuses on American journalism from 1900-1999. Although history does not often compartmentalize itself into convenient pieces, this focuses on the 10 decades as if each 10 years[…]

A History of Journalism since the 16th Century

In 1556, the government of Venice first published the monthly Notizie scritte (“Written notices”), which cost one gazzetta. Introduction The history of journalism spans the growth of technology and trade, marked by the advent of specialized techniques for gathering and disseminating information on a regular basis that has caused, as one history of journalism surmises, the steady increase of[…]

A History of Advertising, Public Relations, and Propaganda

Advertising has always been about tapping into consumers’ existing needs or about creating a need and inserting a product to fill it. By Dr. Mark PoepselAssociate Professor of JournalismSouthern Illinois University Introduction “What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.” Don Draper, fictional advertising executive from the AMC series Mad Men Advertising[…]

John Adams and ‘Fake News’ in Early America

“Fake news” and disinformation have been part of the conversation as far back as the birth of the free press. In the margins of his copy of Condorcet’s treatise Outlines of an Historical View of the Progress of the Human Mind, President John Adams scribbled a cutting note. Writing in the section where the French philosopher predicted that[…]

Reading Times for Newspapers and Periodicals in Victorian England

Time, like place, is socially constructed rather than ‘natural’, and so one might expect ideas of time to be influenced by cultural change. Introduction Time is part of the very name of ‘newspaper’, with its promise of something new, and of ‘periodical’, suggesting something published at regular intervals. Time is also part of their nature,[…]

Reading Places for Newspapers and Periodicals in Victorian England

These reading places confirmed the centrality of periodical print to Victorian culture. Introduction We need to know where the local newspaper was read to understand how it was read, because the same texts take on different meanings in different places.[1] The same report of a Preston football victory over Blackburn has opposite meanings, of success[…]

When the Press Stepped in to Silence the Lies of a Nazi-Sympathizing Priest in 1938

Broadcasters silenced Father Charles Coughlin in 1938, just as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook Trump’s incitements. Introduction In speeches filled with hatred and falsehoods, a public figure attacks his enemies and calls for marches on Washington. Then, after one particularly virulent address, private media companies close down his channels of communication, prompting consternation from his supporters[…]

What Today’s News Has in Common with Early Execution Ballads

Violence, corruption, and murder dominate our modern headlines, Little has changed since execution ballads in sixteenth-century Europe. By Lisa Needham Introduction Since the start of 2020, it’s felt like the news has lurched from one catastrophic disaster to another. First came Australia’s devastating bushfires that ripped through the country, swiftly followed by a deadly global[…]

Eccentric Lafcadio Hearn in 19th-Century New Orleans

The misfit journalist felt at home in the marginalized world he wrote about. In 1869, an odd little man named Lafcadio Hearn traveled from England to America, the latest stop on a continuing odyssey to find a place he could call home. Visually impaired by a childhood accident and a colorful eccentric throughout his life,[…]

The President, the Press, and Proximity: The History of the White House Press Center

White House Press Corps, 1918 In light of the relationship between the press and the president, the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room holds both symbolic and functional significance. By James A. Jacobs Professor Emeritus of Journalism and English Diablo Valley College Introduction Reporters use telephones located in the White House Press Room to call the[…]

Mediatization and the Language of Journalism

Creative Commons At the intersection of applied linguistics and journalism studies lies media linguistics.    By Dr. Tom Van Hout (left) and Dr. Peter Burger (right) Hout: Lecturer in Journalism and New Media Burger: Lecturer in Journalism and New Media Leiden University Abstract At the intersection of applied linguistics and journalism studies lies media linguistics.[…]

Up and Out: Journalism, Social Media, and Historical Sensibility

Exploring a deeper interrogation of the relationship between technology, historical scholarship, and more presentist social science. By Dr. C.W. Anderson Associate Professor of Communication College of Staten Island City University of New York Much of the modern theorizing about journalism and communication attained its robustness due to a powerful convergence of distinct middle-range scholarly findings that[…]

A Cultural Approach to Communication

Recasting studies of communication in terms of a ritual model. By Dr. James W. Carey Communication Theorist, Former Professor of Journalism Columbia University I When I decided some years ago to read seriously the literature of communications, a wise man suggested I begin with John Dewey. It was advice I have never regretted accepting. Although there are[…]

From Town Criers to Newsprint: The Evolution of Early Newspapers in England

At the dawn of the 17th century, early newspapers began to replace oral news. 10.28.2012 Theory behind the Emergence of the Newspaper At the dawn of the 17th century, early newspapers began to replace oral news by manufacturing natural events to fit a single page. Bolter (2001) would refer to this shift in communication as[…]

Henry David Thoreau’s Views of 19th-Century Media

A statue of Henry David Thoreau in front of a replica of his cabin in Concord, Massachusetts. Chris Devers Thoreau spent his life pursuing the ‘hard bottom’ of truth. But he confronted a sensationalist newspaper industry. By Dr. Mark Canada / 08.01.2017 Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Indiana University Kokomo The world knows Henry David Thoreau as[…]

Lowell Thomas: The Forgotten Man Who Transformed Journalism in America

Despite being largely forgotten today, Lowell Thomas was a pioneering journalist of the 20th century who reshaped news media. (Wikimedia Commons) Lowell Thomas was the first host of a TV broadcast news program, and adopted a number of other new technologies to make his mark in the 20th century. By Lorraine Boissoneault / 06.22.2017 By the time Lowell[…]

Thomas Jefferson and the Free Press

Jefferson’s faith in free presses was ultimately faith in the people with a moral sensibility sufficient to be a check on abusive government. By Dr. Mark Andrew Holowchak / 09.15.2018 Professor of Philosophy University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Perhaps not unlike other prominent politicians of his time, Thomas Jefferson had an ambivalent relationship with[…]

When Journalists Unintentionally Normalized Fascists

Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler in Munich, Germany. National Archives Collection of Foreign Records Seized, 1675 – 1958 In the 1920s and early 1930s, American journalists tended to put the ascendant fascists on a normal footing. By Dr. John Broich / 12.11.2016 Associate Professor of British History Case Western Reserve University How to report on[…]

How Woodrow Wilson’s Propaganda Machine Changed American Journalism

The censorship board. George Creel is seated at far right. Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress An executive order signed in 1917 created what’s been called ‘the nation’s first ministry of information.’ The media are still feeling its impact. By Dr. Christopher B. Daly / 04.27.2017 Professor of Journalism Boston University When the United States declared[…]

Media and Culture

Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 03.03.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Pop Culture Mania Figure 1.1: Just as fans could purchase Jerry Lind hats, Beatles fans could purchase Beatle wigs. / Paul Townsend – 1960s Beatlemania Fashion In 1850, an epidemic swept America—but instead of leaving victims sick with fever or flu, this epidemic involved a rabid craze[…]

Censorship and Freedom of the Press in the Early Modern Period

Illustration showing a printing press designed in 1850 by Hippolyte Marinoni and called L’Universelle (the Universal) / Public Domain By Dr. Jürgen Wilke / 05.08.2013 Professor of Journalism and Communications Johannes Gutenberg University Introduction Censorship as a means of controlling communication has existed since classical antiquity. However, it became significantly more important in the early modern period[…]

Early 18th-Century European ‘Spectators’, or ‘Moral Weeklies’

Combined image of Beer Street and Gin Lane, by William Hogarth / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Klaus-Dieter Ertler / 06.28.2012 Institute for Romance Studies University of Graz Introduction The early eighteenth century witnessed the birth in England of the “Spectators”, a journalistic and literary genre that developed in the wake of the Glorious Revolution (1688). Beginning in 1709[…]

The Magazine that Inspired Rolling Stone

‘When you look back on it, where else would those articles appear? The Saturday Evening Post?’ Nick Lehr/The Conversation via flickr, CC BY-SA By Dr. Peter Richardson / 11.08.2017 Coordinator, American Studies San Francisco State University The 50th anniversary of Rolling Stone magazine has arrived, and not without fanfare. Joe Hagan’s biography of co-founder Jann Wenner appeared in October[…]

Betwixt Nature and God Dwelt the Medieval ‘Preternatural’

Telling-tales; a comet above Augsburg in 1618. / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Laura Bland / 10.30.2017 Visiting Assistant Professor in Medieval Studies University of Houston After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the American pastor John Hagee became notorious for blaming the devastating storm on the ‘sins’ of the people of New Orleans. The outcry forced him[…]

Press Attacks during the Administration of George Washington

At the time of his inauguration, George Washington was described in almost universally glorified terms by the national presses. However, by the end of the President’s first term, hostile newspaper writers were attacking the administration’s domestic and foreign policy. These attacks escalated in Washington’s second term into personal attacks questioning his integrity, republican principles, and even military[…]

Techniques of a 19th-Century Fake News Reporter Teach Us Why We Fall for It Today

German journalist and novelist Theodor Fontane. Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Petra S. McGillen / 04.05.2017 Assistant Professor of German Studies Dartmouth College Donald Trump appears to have a straightforward definition of fake news: Stories that are critical of him or his presidency are “fake,” while those that praise him are “real.” On the surface, the[…]