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    Birth of American Newspaper Essay

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    The Birth of the American NewspaperIt has been said that the true newspaper must meet these qualifications: (1) it must be published at least once a week; (2) it must be produced by mechanical means (to distinguish it from handwritten “newes letters”); (3) it must be available to anyone willing to pay the price, regardless of class or special interest; (4) it must print anything of interest to a general public, as contrasted with some of the religious and business publications; (5) it must have an appeal to a public of ordinary literary skill; (6) it must be timely, or at least relatively so, in the light of technical development; and (7) it must have stability, as contrasted to the fly-by-night publications of more primitive times. -Emery and Smith, 1954Before the printing press or printing plates handwritten pamphlets were the means for communicating anythingover a distance of land or sea. Documentation, for thosewho were literate, played major roles in politics longbefore today’s modern Sunday Advertisers. In 1566, theVenetian Magistracy ordered accounts of the war in Dalmatiato be read and posted in public places. Persons interestedin this news paid a small coin, called a gazetta, for theprivilege of obtaining it. As far back as 69 BC, news sheetsknown as Acta Diurna were posted in public places in Rome(Emery and Smith, 1954).

    “It might be said that the newspaper was the mostsignificant contribution of the printing press. JohannGutenberg introduced movable type around 1440. Not until ithad been perfected was it possible to produce literatureand printed reports cheap enough to reach the masses. Therevolution was not as much in the medium as in theaudience.

    With publication of this type, there was someincentive for gathering and processing information ofinterest to the general public- news (Emery and Smith,1954). News became a commodity, like food and merchandise,produced for profit to meet a demand. Newspapers didn’tcreate news; news created newspapers (Emery and Smith,1954). David Copeland claims that the American newspaper was”quietly” born on September 25, 1690. On this day,”Publick Occurrence Both Foreign and Domestic” was printedin Boston by Benjamin Harris.

    The young nation’s firstnewspaper promised to provide “an account of suchconsiderable things as have arrived unto our Notion(Copeland, 1997). Needless to say, the young paper did notmake a second edition due to the fact that the governorfound the pamphlet contained “reflections of a very highnature” and ordered its suppression” (Lee, 1924). America’s next chance at a newspaper was started byJohn Campbell. The Boston News-Letter began on April 24,1704, 84 years after the establishment of the first colonyin that area. One of its main reasons for success was thefact that Campbell printed his newspaper “with Authorityof the Massachusetts government” (Copeland, 1997). Beforehe began printing, Campbell, Boston’s postmaster, senthandwritten letters to the governors of each colony.

    Campbell having secured the governments approval made hispaper a success when he began mass distribution. Once his printing got underway, the News-Letter was printedon both sides of a sheet; slightly larger than a sheet oftypewriter paper. Campbell never had enough subscribers tomake his venture profitable. His circulation seldomexceeded three hundred (Emery and Smith, 1954). The BostonNews-Letter printed until 1776.

    From 1704 until December 1719, the News-Letter was theonly colonial newspaper (Copeland, 1997). On December 21,James Franklin printed the first Boston Gazette. The nextday, Andrew Bradford began the American Weekly Mercury inPhiladelphia. Andrew was the local postmaster and son ofWilliam Bradford, who was to be the publisher of the firstnewspaper in New York.

    The elder Bradford started The NewYork Gazette on November 8, 1725 (Lee, 1923). Within adecade, five other newspapers were initiated in thecolonies. The newspapers of colonial America were an outgrowthof London newspapers and there predecessors, thenewsletters. The content of the colonial newspapers wereobtained from English newspapers and magazines brought toAmerica.

    Ships arrived after weeks at sea, and printerssought out captains, crew members, and passengers for thelatest “advices” from Europe (Copeland, 1997). The news printed in the colonial newspapers were notoriginal in content. The “news” was not new at all. Infact, it was several months behind the current events inEurope. The papers also largely had nothing to with the”news” of the colonies. People where still hanging on tothe events of Europe that had no direct affect on them inthe new nation.

    Eventually the colonist came to therealization they needed to be aware of situations in theirsurroundings and not abroad. Benjamin Franklin was thefirst to begin to print news and information about thecolonies themselves and not exclusively in Europe. If onewas to ask who set the palette for today’s newspapers, theanswer would definitely be Benjamin Franklin. BibliographyCopeland, David. Colonial American Newspapers.

    UniversityOf Delaware Press, Inc. Newark, Delaware. 1997. Emery, Edwin, and Henry Ladd Smith. The Press and America. Prentice Hall, Inc.

    New York, New York. 1954. Lee, James Melvin. History of American Journalism.

    TheGarden City Publishing Co. , Inc. Garden City, NewYork. 1923.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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