Survey of Journalism: Its Past, Present, & Future

Anybody who wants to write articles for newspapers and magazines would probably benefit from understanding the history of these media. This section examines the history, status quo, and possible future of the American newspaper and magazine industry. Although there’s considerable thematic overlap between movements in both of these industries, for ease of comprehension, I will separately examine newspapers and magazines.

Before I begin, I want to stress a point: In this book I tout the use of premium encyclopedic sources rather than Wikipedia. Although Wikipedia is freely available and covers a gamut of topics, not all the information on this site is transparent, verifiable, or coherent. As a testament to the power of the “Old Media,” I gathered much of the compelling historical information presented in this chapter and others from the Encyclopedia Britannica (a wonderful secondary source to which I have a subscription).


The beginnings of the American newspaper are deeply tied to the revolutionary efforts of the United States. While America was still under colonial control, the British did their best to suppress the colonists’ free speech. For example, in 1690, Benjamin Harris attempted to publish Public Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestic—an attempt which was quickly thwarted by the governor of Massachusetts. Ultimately, this suppression of free speech served to fuel the democratic fervor felt by the founding fathers.

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