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Revolutions in

Media History from
to the Digital Age

Slides based on the Bloomsbury book by Bill Kovarik

Chapter 2 – Industrial media -- #6

Web site & textbook


1st edition – 2011 2nd edition – 2016

 Steam power and printing
 Penny press – starts in NY
◦ business model spreads worldwide
◦ mass circulation = profitable advertising
 Progressive era press
◦ Better presses, photos, more circulation
◦ Crusading press, science service
◦ Yellow press, tabloids
Steam power @ London Times 1814
Done in secrecy

No layoffs

Avoids Luddite

1,400 pages / hour

Both sides

Compared to 250
pages / hour on old
hand press

More circulation means more revenue

Ends dependence on political parties

New business model for the media lasts until the 21st century
Penny press -- new business model
 NY newspapers were first in 1830s
◦ Sun, Herald, Tribune, Times
 London newspapers – tax lifted 1855
◦ Daily Telegraph, Pall Mall Gazette
 Paris newspapers, serialized fiction
◦ Le Figaro, La Presse
◦ Alexandre Dumas, Honore Balzac
 German papers revolution 1848 --
Bonner Zeitung, Carl Schurz
◦ Penny Press - Berliner Tageblatt (Scherlism)
New York penny press
 Starts with Benjamin Day’s Sun
◦ Published out of desperation, sold on street
◦ Concerned with daily lives, police court,
murders, controversies
 Politicians and “great questions” were secondary
 News items snarky, unprofessional:
 SUDDEN DEATH—Ann McDonough, of Washington Street, attempted
to drink a pint of rum on a wager, on Wednesday afternoon last. Before
it was half swallowed Ann was a corpse. Served her right!

 Sun remembered for “moon hoax” and

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”
Moon Hoax NY Sun 1835
Yes Virginia, there is a Santa
He exists as certainly as love and
generosity and devotion exist, and
you know that they abound and
give to your life its highest beauty
and joy. Alas! How dreary would
be the world if there were no
Santa Claus. It would be as
dreary as if there were no

-- Francis P. Church, NY Sun,


Note: Just before Christmas 2011, a Chicago news anchor advised

parents to stop lying and to tell their children that “there is no Santa
Claus.” She was back on the air the next day, apologizing for her
horrible mistake, and quoting Francis P. Church.
NY Herald – 1835
Daily mix of robberies, rapes and

J.G. Bennett hired reporters, set up

news bureaus, emphasized sensational
news and not opinion

Was widely hated …

A “foul mass of positive

-- Charles Dickens
James Gordon Bennett
His only chance of dying an
upright man “will be that of
hanging perpendicularly from
a rope.” -- Benjamin Day
NY Tribune – 1841
• A more trustworthy and moral
• Promoted women’s rights, labor
unions, national parks, westward
expansion, and the end of
• Helped Abraham Lincoln run for
• Famous quote: “Go west, young
Horace Greeley
man, and grow up with the
• “I am sure (the redwoods of
California) will be more prized and
treasured a thousand years hence
than now, should they, by extreme
New York Times – 1851
• National “paper of record”
• Shunned Bennett’s
sensationalism and Greeley’s
moral crusades
• Attacked corrupt Tammany Hall
political machine in the early
• Adolph Ochs, a Southern
publisher, bought The Times in
1896 and coined the paper’s Henry Raymond

• “All the news that’s fit to print.”

London Daily Telegraph -
• Founded by Joseph
M Levy after
newspaper tax lifted
• Modeled after NY
• Featured articles
about crime,
murder and
• Partnered with NY “I said: ‘Dr. Livingstone, I presume?’
Herald to sponsor ‘Yes,’ he said, with a kind, cordial smile,
lifting his cap slightly … and we both
expedition to find grasped hands.” – Henry Morton
Dr. Livingston in Stanley, NY Herald and London Daily
East Africa Telegraph, 1871
Actually, journalist Henry
Morton Stanley didn’t
“find” Livingston, since
he wasn’t “lost.”

Stanley was reputed to

be a cruel racist who
regularly beat and shot
the Africans who worked
for him on his

Stanley’s raw racism is

not well hidden in this
Pall Mall Gazette 1880s
• Exposed prostitution in London
using sensationalistic methods
• Featured crime and scandal
mixed with crusades for slum
reform and expansion of the
British empire
• Government by journalism:
• Press would have its own
leaders in Parliament with the
William T. Stead
power to inspect all government
• Journalist “major generals”
would serve as public opinion
pollsters and “interrogators of
Penny Press in France
 Held back by taxes and censorship
 Paris newspapers – Le Figaro, La
 Innovated with serialization of popular
novels such as Three Musketeers
(1844), Count of Monte Christo
 Dreyfus affair 1898 – J’Accuse by
Emile Zola in L’aurore

Musketeers was
serialized in a
newspaper, Le
March–July 1844
before being
printed as a
Emile Zola
German Penny Press
 “A German daily is the slowest and saddest and
dreariest of the inventions of man … Our own (US)
dailies infuriate the reader, pretty often; the
German daily only stupefies him” -- Mark Twain
 March Revolution of 1848 advocated freedom of
the press and Constitutional government
 Bonner Zeitung - revolutionary Carl Schurz
 Schurz fled to US, set up German-language St.
Louis newspaper
 Sold it to Joseph Pulitzer who shared Schurz’
democratic ideals and founded Post-Dispatch
 In 1870s, NY Herald editors work with August
Scherl to create German tabloids
European revolution of 1848
Joseph Pulitzer (1847–1911)
• Hungarian immigrant who fought with
Union cavalry in Civil War
• Worked with publishers influenced by
Revolution of 1848
• Established St. Louis Post – Dispatch
1872, then New York World in 1882
• Crusaded against corruption, racism
and slum housing
• Enlisted readers in effort to build
Statue of Liberty pedestal
• Kept US from war with England in
1894, but pressured US into war with
Spain 1898
• Endowed Pulitzer Prize in his will
Pulitzer was popularly
seen as something of
a nag in his day, rather
than a great hero of
the press.
Here (on right) he is
trying to get Uncle
Sam to intervene in
the Boer War in South
Africa (c. 1900).
Pulitzer exposed
bribery over the
Panama Canal, and
when threatened by
Teddy Roosevelt with “The World cannot be
a libel suit, said: muzzled.”
Pulitzer vs Hearst
William Randolph Hearst (1863–1951)
A study in contrasts -- A huge man with a
tiny voice – Parodied in Citizen Kane

Populist reformer who championed labor

unions early in his career but fought them
bitterly when they organized his papers.

Used his inherited millions to get started in

publishing and then attacked monopolies
under the motto of “truth, justice and public

A war hawk in Cuba in the 1890s but a

pacifist in Europe in the 1930s due to pro-
German sentiments

Used newspapers ruthlessly for scandal,

political influence. Grossly unfair to Annie
Oakley, Fatty Arbuckle and many others.
Nelly Bly
Pulitzer’s most
famous reporter
Went “Around the
World” in 72 days
Beat the 80 day
record in the Jules
Verne novel
Also went under-
cover in a
madhouse and
women’s issues
E.W. Scripps
Set up first major newspaper chain
using penny press tactics in
Michigan, Ohio and across the

Although barely educated, but he

understood the significance of
science in the 20th century

Established Scripps Oceanographic

Institution and the Science News

“The way to make democracy

safe is to make it more scientific.”
Alfred Harmsworth
(Lord Northcliffe)
Can fish speak? Do dogs commit murder?
How many people cross London Bridge
each day? How much gold is in the Bank of

Readers who answered these questions

could get cash awards.

• “Struck gold” with Daily Mail in 1896 – also

founded Daily Mirror, purchased London Times
• Like Pulitzer and Hearst, Harmsworth backed a
small war—the Boer War in South Africa
• Popular stunts but tepid reporting due to British
libel laws favoring plaintiffs
• Made a Lord in 1918 for help in WWI effort
Review: Issues
 Partisan press, steam printing, penny
press, taxes on knowledge, Moon
hoax, yellow journalism, search for Dr.
Livingston, Science News Service,
crusading journalism, stunt journalism,
revolution of 1848, serialized novel
(roman-feuilleton), Yes Virginia there
is a Santa Claus
Review: People
 John Walter II, Benjamin Day, James
Gordon Bennett, James Gordon
Bennett Jr., Horace Greeley, Henry
Raymond, Joseph M. Levy, William T.
Stead, Henry Morton Stanley, Emile
Zola, Georges Clemenceau, Carl
Schurz, Kark Marx, August Sherl,
Mark Twain, Joseph Pulitzer, William
Randolph Hearst, E.W. Scripps, Nelly
Bly, Alfred Harmsworth
Next: Chapter 3
The 20th century press