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The History of Newspapers

I just wanted to follow up on our class last Monday (Sept. 18). First, I enjoyed the class and was glad to see everyone engage with some online historical documents. We'll continue to do the history "labs" throughout the semester. Additionally, I think we raised some really interesting questions about the relationship between journalism in the past and in the present. Hopefully, we can continue the discussion in the comments section. I'm sorry that we didn't get into the specifics of the readings this time, but we'll do that as we move forward.

Finally, to summarize my main points from lecture, I want to emphasize that the words and ideas we often take for granted in current discussions of media and politics, such as "bias," "objectivity," and even "news," have particular histories. And, if we trace any of these ideas backward through time, we can see how they are not static and unchanging definitions, but concepts that emerged in specific places and times for specific reasons. And, reflecting the most basic lesson of history, they have changed drastically over time.

Those are my thoughts. Would anyone else like to add their own?


I know that no one wants to be the first person to comment, so I'll go first and take the pressure off. Several of you raised great questions during our final discussion on Monday, so perhaps we can continue talking about them here. For example, what is the relationship between the letter-writer-as-correspondent we saw in Freeman's book (and in some historical news stories) and the modern press conference? How has the use of religion changed in contemporary journalism? Is its use today different from the quotations of the Bible found in several group's historical newspapers?

I think religion is a topic that most people are trying to stay away from in today's media. Right now there are too many religous conflicts taking place around the world and no business wants to endangerous their reputation by possibly offending a religous group.

Regarding the reading.....where the girls are.. is kinda fascinating to read since you hear more than what you expect. First it tells alot about the media history and the struggle between feminism and antifeminism towards the main goal "ERA". The author as main feminist try to convey her message on how the American media has potrayed women in that difficult time. Also she make it clear about how the media can use its resources as liberating and an oppressive force at the same time.

I particularly liked the artlice "The ERA as Catfight". I think it was interesting to hear about feminism and the struggle between the same sex. Most articles focus on the tension between men and women so it was nice to hear another point of view which focuses on women vs women..... I also found it interesting that before Steinem most feminists were known as the bitter ugly ones. It wasn't until there was an attractice poster woman for "feminism" that the term began to be respectable in the eyes of men.

In response to religion and media in the present, it's very apparant that more accredited news groups stay away from religion as a reference. The religious 'stories' that we see seem to all relate to war, destruction, and hate.

In regards to the publicly funded media versus corporately funded media discussion tonight, I tend to feel that it is, in most instances, inevitable that there will be bias in the media. Media making is an extremely expensive process, particularly when referring to broadcasting and because of this almost all media organizations will be forced to look towards outside parties who will assist in funding what they produce. Since what they produce is "news" and they need funding or will have no opportunity for their ideas to be heard in the first place, the public will continue to see these small (and sometimes large) biases that are encouraged or required (sometimes overtly) by those who contribute to the coverage of media production costs (advertisers, consumers, government, etc.).

I think that one needs to keep in mind that although media is working towards eliminating every ounce of bias and being truly objective, it is a difficult and pricey process which will take time. Therefore, while along the way there will be bias, media consumers should try to see that there is a twisted comfort in that there is bias in EVERY direction possible. It is not as though only one viewpoint will have coverage that is biased in its favor. We live in a very diverse world and if you want to see different viewpoints, look for them.

I don’t want it to seem as though I condone media bias, I just feel that individuals who live in a society where they can have their own opinion should take advantage of that and make individual observations about what the media produces. This, in reality, is a necessity until we reach a point where media receives no pressure from outside sources about what should be reported. If you don’t agree with what you see, look somewhere else. You may be surprised what you find.

Sorry, this was kind of a long one!!

I found last weeks readings very interesting with their main focus on women. I feel women have always been in the background, esp. when discussing history. To have the women the main part of the reading is helpful to see their lives without any man figure. The only thing in the "Catfight" reading it seemed the only way women were in the news was if they were fighting with each other, it seemed like they were the entertainment for the public, when they could have been discussing the good women do. It was still very interesting to read about though.