History's value for mass communication professionals
1. It gives us knowledge about how the present conditions of our industry came into being.
2. It prevents us from recycling ideas, stories, and images from the past and calling them “new.”
3. It allows us to assess the present using comparisons with the past.
4. It helps us think critically about new media.
Views technological innovation as the result of “an internal process of research and development”
Examines the social, political, and economic context out of which new technologies emerge
Believes that communication technologies are the products of the collective action of many people. They seek to understand a technology’s development as opposed to its invention.
Supervening Social Necessities
"Interface between society and technology.”
No difference btw. prototype and invention
The so-called invention occurs when there are real social needs and uses for a technology
A history for the present; it is a mode of historical consciousness that speaks directly to the concerns and needs of contemporary life. [It] is a form of storytelling through which people make sense of their own lives and culture.
“Histories deemed legitimate by schools, museums, textbook publishers and other arbiters of social knowledge.”
The history of human existence before written language made durable records possible.
Little is known of the history of vocal language, save what archaeologists and paleontologists can tell us.
Vocal language is the only communication medium that human beings did not invent.
The ability to speak was the result of millions of years of evolution.
Higher order words that are non-referential that allow us to create complex sentences.
Examples: “to,” “which,” “because,” “why”
Writing is “inhuman, pretending to establish outside the mind what in reality can only be in the mind.”
Types of Writing Systems
- 1. Pictographic
- 2. Ideographic
- 3. Phonetic
An iconic drawing of a natural person or event (e.g., early cave or rock paintings)
A drawing that members of a group agree conveys a concept (e.g., an image of the sun that means warmth and fellowship)
Symbols that refer to spoken language. In phonetic writing systems, a picture becomes a sign that indicates a particular sound (e.g., the symbol A means the sound “ah”)
- 1. Type (moveable, interlocking metal that is uniform in height and width)
- 2. Paper
- 3. Press
- 4. Ink
"Unless I am convinced by proof from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can die no other. God help me. Amen!"
Effects of Printing
Standardization of vernacular and rise of national languages
Shift in what gets printed from patron’s taste to public’s taste
- Content tended toward a common model:
- 1. Local advertising
- 2. Occasional local gossip
- 3. Large chunks of European economic and political information taken from London papers
John Peter Zenger Trial
In 1733, the German printer founded the New-York Weekly Gazette, in which he printed material that railed against William Cosby, the colonial governor of New York. The paper was essentially a mouthpiece for James Alexander, a New York Attorney.
Spent 9 months in jail.
Trial did not change colonial law or practices, but it did drum of opposition to British authority in the colonies
John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon
Wrote against tyranny of the rule of George I
Advocated freedom of the press
Popularized the ideas of John Locke in America
Wrote under the name Mrs. Silence Dogood
Importance of the Press
Public opinion was central to the success of the American Revolution, and to implementing public policy.
Public opinion was shaped by communications, especially the era’s print media.
Political leaders needed to use the power of the press to shape public opinion.
In the years after the American Revolution, newspapers were expensive, published for the gentry, and often contained partial, partisan views favored by their wealthy patrons
Central partners in developing U.S. political system (not independent observers)
Printed official documents, announcements, speechesAdvocated for policies, leaders, political parties
Editors likely to be political leaders, campaign managers, advocates
Privately owned: No government ministry of information. Instead, official sponsorship and patronage
Audience: Political elites, men, activists, interested citizens, regional newspapers
Benjamin Day's "Sun"
“The object of this paper is to lay before the public, at a price within the means of every one, all the news of the day, and at the same time afford an advantageous medium for advertising. The sheet will be enlarged as soon as the increase of advertisements requires it – the price remaining the same."
James Gordon Bennett
- 1. Business report
- 2. Society page
- 3. Bureaus in other cities
- 4. Foreign correspondents
- 5. Lower class episodic crime coverage
New York Tribune