Category Archives: Journalism and American Democracy

Chris Daly: “Professionalizing the News in Peace and War, 1900-1920”

“Professionalizing the News in Peace and War” chronicles the rise of professionalism through the early twentieth century and into modern journalism’s first major test: World War I. Christopher Daly begins the sixth chapter of his engaging telling with the introduction of journalism’s move toward a true career discipline. By the late 1800s, prominent members of the field were considering the future of their newly developed artform and how it should develop in the professional sphere. While most agreed that a good journalist was born with many of the qualities she needed to be successful, including “imagination, initiative, impulses, enthusiasm, and a sense of humor and irony,” it was also decided that much could be taught—including “clear, concise English prose, law, ethics, research skills, history, economics, statistics, modern languages, and science—and improved in a classroom setting guided by experts. The University of Missouri was the first to institute a formal journalism school in 1908 that included specialized classes taught both by professors of other disciplines and former editors of existing newspapers, as well as a student run newspaper for hands-on learning. Columbia University quickly followed, thanks to a $2 million gift from Joseph Pulitzer (only to be accessed after his death). Its world-renowned school, housed in its own building, and the famous Pulitzer prize were both born in 1912, paving the way for 109 additional schools to come. Continue reading

Chris Daly: “Putting the News in Newspapers, 1833-1850”

Christopher Daly’s “Putting the News in Newspapers: 1833-1850” was both interesting and relevant to discussions of the news media today. His analysis of technology, culture, and society as the three major aspects of the field’s history ring true today, as news continues to develop and adapt according to the same three factors. In 1833, technological advances in the forms of steam-powered printing presses and vastly improved modes of communication and transportation (literally) paved the way to a nation capable of sharing information closer to real-time than ever before. Simultaneously, American cultural norms had contributed to the literacy of an exceptionally high percentage of the adult population. Whether this normalcy was because of the need to read religious texts, ballots, and almanacs or if such things prompted it, the United States “was probably the first country on earth where it was considered normal for adults to be able to read.” Finally, the social construction of the country at this time was highly conducive to the spread of newspapers: larger cities and a growing middle class perfectly set the stage for an explosion of media that has lived on to the present day.

Continue reading

An Evening with John Jeremiah Sullivan

I feel that I’ve yet to fully realize how lucky I am to have spent Tuesday evening with John Jeremiah Sullivan, a gem I just recently discovered. If you find yourself unable to recognize the name, as I did a short week ago, relieve yourself of ignorance by exploring his extensive trove. Sullivan, like legends David Foster Wallace and Joan Didion to whom he has been rightly compared, captures the fabric of our weird, vast American culture in a way that makes the ordinary deliriously funny and the strange surprisingly sympathetic and real. In his works, he recounts marching with impassioned Tea Partiers, befriending Appalachian Christian Rock fans named Bub and Pee Wee, and toking up before “It’s a Small World” with the slightest hope of enduring the saccharine parallel universe that is Disney.

IMG_8948-1024x682

Continue reading