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Journalism History

The history of journalism in the United States

Kyle Phillips

on 29 August 2018

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Transcript of Journalism History

The History of journalism in the U.S.
In the beginning...
Journalism in America was originally just pamphlets distributing information to the citizens about the ways that we were being wronged by the British. Eventually newspapers did pop up in America, and Ben Franklin was an apprentice at a newspaper in Philadelphia.
Thomas Jefferson also has several famous quotes questioning the information in newspapers.

(Key idea: As a media outlet all you have is your credibility, lose that and you're on the same level as TMZ.)
Technology got better and the telegraph was invented by Samuel Morse in 1837 (they were around before then, but not in America) . The telegraph allowed a lot of information to travel over very long distances, which meant that reporters no longer had to wait for long periods of time for news to arrive. The telegraph is also what led to the short and to the point style of news writing. (Telegrams= the original Twitter.)
Photo by John Schanlaub
During the 1800s newspapers really took off and daily newspapers became popular. In New York two men, William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, dominated the market, but each had a desire to be number one in sales.
Yellow Journalism!
Yellow journalism refers to journalism that is highly sensationalist in nature.(Think cable news.) Yellow journalism's motto is 'if it bleeds it leads' referring to the story placement within the paper. Hearst and Pulitzer were the poster boys for this style. They went so far as to get the U.S. involved in a war based on the lies printed in their papers. (Harrower page 11.)
Come up with specific examples of yellow journalism that is still around today. Think about the media that Hearst and Pulitzer had (print), but also think about the media they didn't have (TV, radio, and the Web.) Are there examples of Yellow Journalism present today in any of these media? Get into small groups and come up with a list.
Media shifted towards a more visual medium. Before televisions were popular people would see brief newscasts on news reels placed before feature films in movie theatres. It was on these news reels that the horrible footage of the Holocaust was revealed. Televisions were around as early as the 1930's, however, they did not become affordable and popular with families in American until the 1950's.
Radio was invented and people were able to hear the news. This allowed people to experience things on a new level. Edward R. Murrow gained popularity by standing on rooftops in London during bombing raids. People were able to hear the bombs blowing up in the background. People could now hear the voices of the news makers, eyewitnesses and reporters.
Television became very popular and people began to get their news more regularly from newscasts rather than newspapers. Newscasts could not cover the same scope or depth as papers, but people preferred it because it was easy.
Do you believe that television changed news for better or worse? Perhaps a little of both? With your groups come up with the pros and cons of televised news contrasted with print news.
Edward R. Murrow solidified his place in journalism history by taking on Senator Joseph McCarthy from Wisconsin on his television program See It Now. He exposed the fact that McCarthy was falsely accusing everyone of being a communist and capitalizing on the Red Scare in the U.S. during the 1950s. This was re-popularized in George Clooney's popular 2005 film "Good Night, and Good Luck."
Television showed the horrors of the Vietnam War during the 1960s and '70s, which actually caused public opinion to turn against the war.
Television continued to grow in popularity with 24 hour news networks springing up. Then the Internet became popular and people today are accustomed (used to) being able to get their news immediately from almost anywhere.
During the summer of 1972 the Watergate Hotel was broken into by members of Richard Nixon's Committee to re-elect the President. They were planting bugs to spy on the democrats. The Federal Investigation of the break-in was slow going, but was also pursued by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post.
Woodward and Bernstein risked their jobs, reputations, and the reputation of their newspaper by pursuing the story. At some points they felt that their personal safety may have been at risk.
Whenever the reporters would seem to hit a wall they would learn more information from their anonymous source- Deepthroat. He kept them on the right track and helped them provide the proof needed to run stories that showed Nixon's aids were involved in the break in. This lead to the resignation of President Nixon before he could be impeached by Congress for criminal acts.
A final thought...
Where might we be heading? How will we get news 10 years from now?
photo by gbaku
Photo by Cogdogblog
Photo from film "A Challenge of Ideas"
Photo by expertinfantry
In the early 2000s newspapers began to struggle as they were forced to compete with news online, which was available for free. They also lost most of their money that came in from classified ads to sites like Craigslist and Monster.com.
Many newspapers cut their budgets to deal with the decline in subscriptions and ad sales. Many newspapers began to go under. Cities that used to have two newspapers now only had one. Today newspapers are still trying to find a way to make money with the new way that people are getting news.
Seem familiar?
Kennedy assassination-
Many remember Walter Cronkite delivering the news and that is part of them recalling where they were when they heard the news.
Any potential problems with that?

Three summers ago Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by a police officer in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. His death sparked over a week of protests into what many viewed as a racist system of policing the town's residents.
Photo by Durrie Bouscaren
In an attempt to calm the protests the governor of Missouri instituted a curfew. Police were caught on camera threatening both journalists covering the protests and the protestors themselves.
With the President and his supporters constantly calling reporting that they disagree with "Fake News" it seeks to cut away from the very heart of the First Amendment, which is for the press to hold those in power responsible for their actions and make sure no corruption is occurring. Remember that if you are a journalist you have to get it right now more than ever- you see every week that if you get something wrong people will pounce and seek to discredit you. All you have is your credibility.
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