This chapter describes the emergence of the partisan press and the development of the “penny press” in the US and Europe between 1800 and 1900. It also emphasizes the interrelationship between the emerging media in France, Britain, Germany and the US. A selection from this chapter is found in the features section: The industrial printing revolution.
- Lampooned: How famous — and how hated — was James Gordon Bennett? His name is still used an expletive in the UK, even in the 21st century. Back in the 19th, during his lifetime, Biritish author Charles Dickens used James Gordon Bennett as his model for Col. Diver of the Rowdy Journal in Martin Chuzzlewit. Look up the novel at the Gutenberg Project and compare the fictional character with Bennett. You might also compare the Dickens fictionalization of Bennett with Orson Wells portrayal of William Randolph Hearst in the 20th century.
- Where are they now? What has become of Niles Register and some of the other papers of the partisan press era? Did the New York Herald, Tribune, Sun, and Times survive from the penny press era? Who owns the Times of London today?
- Remember the Maine — Did Hearst get it right when he said the Spanish blew up the Battleship Maine in Havana harbor in 1898? What do we know about the incident today?
- Trans-Atlantic connections — Look through the chapter and find examples of reporters and editors who worked on both sides of the Atlantic or the English Channel. Are there other connections you can find?
People & Events
Major figures: 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, Walter Lippmann
Events & Trends: Halfpenny press, partisan press, steam printing, penny press, taxes on knowledge, yellow journalism, crusading journalism, stunt journalism, four stages of the media
Around the World in 72 Days — Excellent documentary based on the Brooke Kroeger biography of Nelly Bly.
Partisan media: Whigs and Tories, Federalists and anti-federalists
- Excerpts from the Aurora newspaper of Philadelphia (1798) — This is the notorious anti-Federalist newspaper that so infuriated John Adams and the Federalists. It may have been a factor in the creation of the Alien & Sedition Acts of 1798.
- The Sedition Act, 1798 Reaction: The Virginia Resolution and the Kentucky Resolution
- Covering the war of 1812. Niles Register, Sept. 4, 1813.
- William Cobbett on American Ships, 1829
- Senate Coverage — 1830 Note the lack of direct quotes or even substance.
- Newspapers of the 20th century (as envisioned by editors of the 19th century). One major improvement — truth, truth, truth!
Human rights — abolitionist / women’s / labor publications
- William Lloyd Garrison’s introductory editorial in The Liberator, Jan. 1, 1831.
- Confessions of Nat Turner, 1832
- Without Pity or Remorse: excerpt from Edward Abdy’s America, 1836 with extensive comments on slavery.
- Frederick Douglass, autobiography,1845
- Abolitionist interviews with escaped slaves, Canada,1850
- Frederick Douglass’ 1852 Democratic Convention speech
- New York Times reporter Frederick Law Olmstead tours the slave states, 1856
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (full text)
- Excerpt from Running A Thousand Miles For Freedom by the escaped slaves William and Ellen Craft (London, W. Tweedie, 1860).
- Narratives of slavery (University of Virginia )
- Narratives of slavery (Library of Congress)
- A letter to my old master, 1865, by Jourdon Anderson. “… As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department of Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you…”
The Penny Press
- The Great Moon Hoax by the New York Sun in 1835 was intended to be a demonstration of how the new, cheaper penny press was no worse than the more expensive journals.
- It was only a paper moon — but a legendary hoax, John Kass, Chicago Tribune, Aug. 25, 2011.
- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1835 Especially Chapter 11; Liberty of Press in the United States
- Biographies of three famous editors from the penny press era, written in 1898 by US historian James Parton:
- Horace Greeley — Founder of the New York Tribune, 1841, who saw journalism as an editor’s job. Greeley was a major political force in the US in the 1850s whose backing was essential for Abraham Lincoln’s nomination. Parton said: Greeley aimed to produce a paper which should morally benefit the public. It was not always right, but it always meant to be.
- James Gordon Bennett — Founder of the New York Herald in 1836, Bennett saw journalism as a reporter’s job, and was the first to set up a Washington DC bureau. He was also pugnacious and loved to get in arguments with his detractors. Parton said: Six times he was assaulted by persons whom he had satirized in his newspaper… On one occasion, for example, after relating how his head had been cut open by one of his former employers, he added: “The fellow no doubt wanted to let out the never failing supply of good-humor and wit which has created such a reputation for the ‘Herald.’… He has not injured the skull. My ideas in a few days will flow as freshly as ever, and he will find it so to his cost.”
- John Walter and sons — Founder of the London Times in 1787. — When The Times had been in existence little more than a year, Walter took the liberty of making a remark upon the Duke of York, one of the king’s dissolute sons, saying that the conduct of his Royal Highness had been such as to incur His Majesty’s just disapprobation. For this offense he was arrested and put on trial for libel. Being convicted, he was sentenced to pay a fine of fifty pounds, to undergo a year’s imprisonment in Newgate, to stand in the pillory for one hour…
War and Peace in the Press
- Hezekiah Niles: the Editor who tried to stop the Civil War — Niles was a Baltimore editor who saw war coming as early as the 1820s and attempted to find ways to mediate the conflict. Also, the Baltimore Sun’s 200th anniversary article.
- William Howard Russell reports the Charge of the Light Brigade, 1854, for the London Times. Compare the way the Light Brigade is written to Henry Villard’s account of the next item.
- BBC Witness program on the Charge of the Light Brigade.
- William Howard Russell reports the disaster at Bull Run for the New York Herald in 1861. Note the difference in lead structure and the terseness of Villard’s dispatch. This difference is, partly, a reflection of the influence of the telegraph.
- Reaction to the disaster in the Crimea included a famous poem by Tennyson about the Charge of the Light Brigade. The ill treatment of troops also led to bitter complaints. Rudyard Kipling’s “Tommy” is one example.
- History theory and practice of the electronic telegraph, by George Prescott, AP, 1860
- John Brown’s Raid — Editorial reaction from US newspapers around the country in 1859. Notice how some Northern newspapers are very much opposed to abolitionism and very supportive of the South. This was the so-called”Copperhead” press.
- Staunton (Va) Spectator, Though Lincoln is Elected, there is No Danger, Nov. 13, 1860.
- Nathaniel Hawthorne writes “Chiefly About War Matters” for the Atlantic Monthly, 1862
- William Howard Russell reports on the Civil War in My Diary North and South
- Personal narratives of Civil War soldiers
- Charleston (S.C.) Mercury , Editorial Against Black Confederate Troops, January 13, 1865
- Three Months Among the Reconstructionists, 1866 article in the Atlantic Monthly
Reporters as explorers
- John L. O’Sullivan On Manifest Destiny, 1839
- An Overland Journey from New York to San Francisco,1859, by N.Y. Tribune editor Horace Greeley, who famously said: “go west, young man.” See especially:
- The big trees of Mariposa Grove. Note especially his remorse over the chopping down of the largest sequoia. That story is told in more detail here.
- Interview with Brigham Young.Greeley says afterward: “I joyfully trust that the genius of the nineteenth century tends to a solution of the problem of woman’s sphere and destiny radically different from this.”
- Life of Horace Greeley by J. Parton. It only goes to 1855, so it misses the later controversies.
- Shall the Red Man Be Exterminated? Putnams Magazine, 1869
- Currier & Ives prints and lithographys of everyday life in the mid 19th century.
- Satire of the Liberal Republican convention of 1872, especially lampooning candidate Horace Greeley.
- The Battle of Little Big Horn — Harpers Weekly 1876 and Chief Red Horse 1881
- Jules Verne, Michael Strogoff — In which Daily Telegraph reporter Harry Blount risks his life to follow a fictional uprising in Siberia and send news to the Telegraph ’s readers.
- Autobiography of Apache war chief Geronimo, 1903.
- Nelly Bly goes undercover “Inside the Madhouse.”
- Nelly Bly goes Around the World in 72 days, 1889.
- Nelly Bly celebrated on the radio in 1945 (from newspaper heros web site by Bob Stepno).
- The Autobiography of a Newspaper Girl – 1902
- Mark Twain’s description of German daily newspapers in Tramp Abroad (1880).
- Mark Twain short stories about journalism: Editorial Wild Oats, (1875).
- Yellow journalism in the crucible of empire (PBS)
- The Yellow Kid and the origins of yellow journalism
The Press Barons and their critics
- Joseph Pulitzer, “Planning a School of Journalism: The Basic Concept,” North American Review, May, 1904. “Our republic and its press will rise or fall together.”
- Joseph Pulitzer – Front Page Pioneer — Iris Noble, Copp Clark Publishing Co. Limited, 1957. (Full text)
- Joseph Pulitzer, Master Journalist — James Creelman, Pearson’s Magazine, 1909. (Magazine article)
- The Brass Check — Upton Sinclair, 1920. An especially bitter attack on the press of the day, Sinclair compares journalists to prostitutes who take the “brass check” — a token system representing payment for services rendered.
- History of American Journalism — James Melvin Lee, 1917.
- Eleven editions of the Chicago Daily Tribune, Nov. 3, 1948
JFK’s speech to the American Newspaper Publishers Association, April 20, 1961
- “You may remember that in 1851 the New York Herald Tribune under the sponsorship and publishing of Horace Greeley, employed as its London correspondent an obscure journalist by the name ofKarl Marx. We are told that foreign correspondent Marx, stone broke, and with a family ill and undernourished, constantly appealed to Greeley and managing editor Charles Dana for an increase in his munificent salary of $5 per installment, a salary which he and Engels ungratefully labeled as the “lousiest petty bourgeois cheating.” But when all his financial appeals were refused, Marx looked around for other means of livelihood and fame, eventually terminating his relationship with the Tribune and devoting his talents full time to the cause that would bequeath the world the seeds of Leninism, Stalinism, revolution and the cold war. If only this capitalistic New York newspaper had treated him more kindly; if only Marx had remained a foreign correspondent, history might have been different. And I hope all publishers will bear this lesson in mind the next time they receive a poverty-stricken appeal for a small increase in the expense account from an obscure newspaper man…”