Digital Culture and Social Media

How evolving information and communication technologies (ICTs) can influence the mass media and contribute to social and cultural change in the process. By Dr. Mark PoepselAssociate Professor of JournalismSouthern Illinois University Origin in Anarchy “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have[…]

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[…]

A History of the Broadcast Fairness Doctrine in the United States

The main agenda for the doctrine was to ensure that viewers were exposed to a diversity of viewpoints. Introduction The fairness doctrine of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, was a policy that required the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so[…]

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[…]

Readers of the Local Press in Victorian England

Starting from the reader rather than the text allows a new picture of nineteenth-century reading to emerge. Overview If we want to read periodicals because they were what the Victorians read, the work that must be done to bring them to life suggests they are not quite what they were.[1] James Mussell As Mussell’s epigram[…]

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,[…]

When Dorothy Parker Got Fired from ‘Vanity Fair’

How Parker’s determination to speak her mind — even when it angered men in positions of power — gave her pride of place. This article, When Dorothy Parker Got Fired from Vanity Fair, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: https://publicdomainreview.org/legal/ Dorothy[…]

5 Effective Tips to Improve Your Science Writing Skills

Whether you are into writing and need polishing your style, or you are a newbie trying to survive in the world of academic rules and standards, this article is definitely for you. We have examined the most common mistakes students make and outlined the 5 effective tips to boost your writing skills today. Check them[…]

Of Pears and Kings

Investigating an early 19th-century meme in the press to criticize the corrupt and repressive policies of King Louis-Philippe. This article, Brilliant Visions: Peyote among the Aesthetes, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: https://publicdomainreview.org/legal/ Images have long provided a means of protesting[…]

Did William Randolph Hearst Really Manipulate News to Spin Up a War?

“You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war”. In this and like communities, public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed. Consequently he who moulds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be[…]

The Founders and Cries of ‘Fake News’

George Washington tired of those he called “infamous scribblers”. By Harlow Giles Unger “American Nation Debauched by WASHINGTON!” screamed a newspaper headline before charging the Father of Our Country with “the foulest designs against the liberties of a people.”  President Donald Trump would call it “fake News” and George Washington most certainly would agree.  After[…]

VP Spiro Agnew’s War on the Press during the Nixon Administration

When Vice President Spiro Agnew gave a speech in 1969 bashing the press, he fired some of the first shots in a culture war that persists to this day. Introduction Americans witnessed an unprecedented event 50 years ago: live television coverage on all three national networks of a speech by the vice president of the[…]

The Journalist Who Exposed Sex Trafficking in Victorian London

W.T. Stead’s 1885 account of the process by which wealthy Londoners procured teenagers for sex became a global news story, but the police refused to investigate. Wealthy men soliciting underage girls for sex. Girls lured to expensive homes by promises of good-paying jobs. Captains of commerce and heads of state reveling in debauchery. Officials looking[…]

H. L. Mencken Loved to Cover Political Conventions but Had Little Faith in Voters

“As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.” On June 20, 1948, a round and no doubt rumpled correspondent for the Baltimore Sun looked into the galleries of a Philadelphia convention hall and spotted the future. His name was Henry Louis Mencken, and he didn’t like[…]

How Janet Flanner’s “High-Class Gossip” about Paris and Europe Changed America

The journalist’s witty Paris Letters for the New Yorker helped establish Americans’ feelings of superiority over Europe. By Matthew Wills Janet Flanner, part of that famous group of ex-pats in Paris that included Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, was a significant journalist in her own right, though she once described herself as “a high-class gossip[…]

I.F. “Izzy” Stone: The Lessons of a Courageous 20th-Century Journalist

Remembering what one of last century’s most courageous Jewish journalists taught us. By Peter Dreier In this era of Donald Trump—with its widespread corruption and abuse of power—the world of journalism could use the voice of I.F. Stone, one of America’s greatest muckraking reporters, who died 30 years ago today at 81 on June 18,[…]

The Unlikely Journalist Who Dethroned America’s Robber Barons

Thanks to Ida Tarbell, we’re not to afraid to expose the shenanigans of the super-rich. Over the last few years, the idea of “the one percent” has become a popular way to discuss the gap between the fantastically wealthy—the one percent of Americans who control more than 20 percent of the country’s wealth—and the rest[…]

The Art of Thinking in Other People’s Heads

And what is a feuilleton? Introduction The complaint that technology and media have distorted our culture, politics, our very understanding of reality is by now well-worn. They direct us to mere appearances, satisfy (and create) near-narcotic compulsions, splinter communities into defensive cells of mutual incomprehension and disgust, and generally leave us screen-addled and manipulated. These[…]

Think The Press Is Partisan? It Was Much Worse for Our Founding Fathers

A scheming and salacious newspaper reporter targeted Hamilton and Jefferson – and nearly ruined them. It is a common complaint that the drive for traffic at news sites in the digital age has debased our political dialogue, turning a responsible press into a media scramble for salacious sound bites. But partisanship and scandal-mongering go way[…]

Marie Colvin: The Work of a Journalist Who Died for Truth

The Syrian army, honing in on her satellite phone, targeted an artillery strike on the building where she was reporting from. By James Thornton HarrisIndependent Historian 2018 was an annus horribilis for freedom of the press.  Reporters Without Borders announced that 63 professional journalists were killed, of whom 49 were specifically targeted for death by an army or[…]

Sitting on a Scoop: The Story behind the V-E Headlines of May 1945

As we commemorate Memorial Day, the drama behind the headlines announcing Germany’s surrender in World War II. There’s quite a story behind the story of the end of the fighting in World War II in Europe. As we observe another Memorial Day, it is worth remembering the events of that busy May of 1945, when[…]

What Would Thoreau Think of Our 24-Hour News Cycle?

He believed that faster news meant diminished quality. According to a recently released Pew Center survey, almost seven in ten Americans feel worn out by the amount of news that’s generated each day. Henry David Thoreau complained of much the same thing in Walden, his celebrated account of a two-year experiment in simple living that[…]

Off the Record: A Photographer and Gerald Ford during a Crisis

It began with an image – the first on the White House Photography Office’s 4,527th roll of film for the Ford administration. He snaps a photograph of President Gerald Ford, who leans back in a tall Cabinet Room chair, smoking a pipe and listening intently to CIA Director Colby. The image is the first on[…]