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8.1 The Evolution of the Mass Media

Two basic kinds of mass media are the print media including newspapers and magazines, and the broadcast media including radio and television. Initially, in the 19th and early 20th centuries news coverage was carried out by newspapers and magazines. However during the past five decades, the television network has become a more powerful medium. Modern scientific and technological advances, such as the Internet, bridge differences between the print and broadcast media, by presenting information available both in the newspapers, as well as that on radio and television.

8.1a Newspapers and Magazines

In the early days, the mercantile paper for the trading and shipping classes, and the political paper played a key role in the struggle over the adoption of the Constitution and the establishment of the new federal government. The ’Federalist Papers’ were mainly the work of Alexander Hamilton, leader of the pro-constitution party. On the anti-federalist side was Thomas Jefferson of the ’National Gazette’. The tradition of partisan journalism existed in the political party press in the 19th century, with Blair as the editor of the ’Washington Globe.’ This was the hard-hitting administration paper. The ’National Intelligencer’ set the tradition of an administration organ in Washington.

Owing to widespread education, extension of the right to vote, and the increased interest in politics of a growing laboring class, there was increased competition for readers and advertisers. The new "penny press" sprang up with a low-priced paper tending to be highly sensational, edited in order to interest ordinary people. The cycle of sensationalism reached its height with William Randolph Hearst’s ’New York Journal,’ which was dubbed ’Yellow journals’ after a comic strip character the "Yellow kid." Yellow journalism resulted in gaudy, sensationalized news, that reached its peak during the time of the Spanish-American War. The tabloid press including papers like the National Enquirer and the Star, continues a similar trend of reporting. However, like other newspapers Hearst was a crusading champion of the people. In his editorials, at the turn of the century, he stressed on nationalization of the coal mines, railroad, and telegraph lines, election of United States senators by popular vote rather than by state legislatures, and extensive new financial support for the public schools.

At the beginning of the 20th century, magazines like ’McClure’s’ and ’Collier’s’ were significant as "people’s champions" of the reform era. Theodore Roosevelt called their work "much raking." He coined this term by comparing the more sensational writers to the man with the muckrake in Pilgrim’s Progress who continued to rake the filth, without looking up to see the celestial crown. The ’Post’ continued its interest in public affairs, along with other newsmagazines shaping public opinion, such as ’Time’ ’Newsweek’ and ’United States News’ and ’World Report’.


8.0 - Introduction
8.1 The Evolution of the Mass Media
8.2 Structure of the Mass Media and Government Regulation
8.3 The Functions of the Mass Media
8.4 The Mass Media and Political Coverage

Chapter 9

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