Objective Journalism by Adolph Ochs and the New York Times

Why did Warren Buffet buy newspapers?
News is good business. Warren argued that papers deliver comprehensive and reliable information to tightly bound communities and will be viable for a long time. People want reliable information and good stories more than ever.
What roles do newspapers have in contemporary culture?
1. They are chronicles of daily life
2. they inform
3. they entertain
4. When they report on scientific, technological, and medical issues, they present specialized knowledge to the public.
5. They shape cultural trends through reviews of films, concerts, and plays
6. Opinion pages trigger public debates and offer differing points of view.
7.Columnists do everything from provide parenting advice to the US role as a military superpower.
The evolution of American Newspapers

1. The earliest news was passed along family to family, tribe to tribe, by community leaders and oral historians.

2. The earliest known written news account, or news sheet Acta Diurna (Latin for daily events) was developed by Julius Ceasar and posted on public spaces.

3. The development of the printing press in the 15th century greatly accelerated a society’s ability to send and receive information.

4. Today newspapers continue to document daily life and bear witness to both ordinary and extraordinary events.

In this chapter we will

1. Trace the history of newspapers through a number of influential periods and styles.

2. Explore the early political-commerical press, the penny press, and yellow journalism

3. Examine the modern era through the influence of the New York Times and journalisms embrace of objectivity.

4. Look at interpretive journalism in the 1920s and 1930s and the revival of literary journalism in the 1960’s.

5. Review issues of newspaper ownership, new technologies, citizen journalism, declining revenue, and the crucial role newspapers play in our democracy.

Where did the novelty and entrepreneurial stages of print media development first happen?
In Europe with the rise of the printing press.
What was the first newspaper in North America?
Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestick, was published on September 25, 1690, by Boston Printer Benjamin Harris.
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Colonial Newspapers and the Partisan Press
What was the first regularly published newspaper in the American Colonies?

The Boston-Newsletter, published by John Campbell.

European news took weeks to travel by ship, so these early papers were not timely.

However, they did report local illnesses, public floggings, and even suicides.

The New England Courant

The Courant established a tradition of running stories that interested ordinary readers rather than printing articles that appealed primarily to business and colonial leaders.

Started in 1721 by James Franklin, Benjamin Franklin’s brother, in Boston.

Pennsylvania Gazelle
Benjamin Franklin took this paper over and created the best of the colonial papers. Many colonial papers worked from subsidies from political parties exclusively but the Gazette also made money by advertising products.
seditious libel
defaming a public official’s character in print.
commercial press

By contrast to the partisan press, served business leaders, who were interested in economic issues.

Today the legacy of the commercial press is the business section.

partisan press

political papers, generally pushed the plan of the particular political group that subsidized the paper.

Today the legacy of the partisan press is the editorial papers.

New-York Weekly Jornal

John Zenger was the printer. The paper was backed by the Popular party (a group that opposed British rule) and ran articles that criticized the governor of NY.

A popular Party judge was dismissed from office and the Journal attacked the governor in the paper.

He protected the writers of the critical articles, not sharing their identities, and was arrested in 1734 for seditious libel.

John Zenger

Printer of the New York Weekly Journal that protected the authors of critical articles and then was arrested for Seditious libel. Andrew Hamilton was his lawyer and a sympathetic jury in revolt against the colonial government, deeded that newspapers had the right to criticize government leaders as long as the reports were true.

After this the British never prosecuted another colonial printer.

The Zenger decision
provided key foundation-the right of a democratic press to criticize public officials-for the First Amendment to the Constitution, adopted as part of the Bill of Rights in 1791.
Types of newspapers in the colonial era
1. policial
2. commercial
What were early American papers influenced by?

1. Development was shaped in large part by social, cultural, and political responses to British rule and it’s eventual overthrow.

2. The gradual rise of political parities and the spread of commercial papers carried both party news and business news, which both had different agendas.

During the colonial era who read the papers?
Wealthy men who controlled local politics and commerce.
Elizabeth Timothy
The first American woman newspaper publisher (and mother of 8 children) Her husband died and she took over the South Carolina Gazette.
During the colonial era which women ran newspapers?
1. Elizabeth Timothy ran the South Carolina Gazette
2. Anna Maul Zenger ran the New-York Weekly Journal throughout her husbands trial and after his death.
The Penny Press Era: Newspapers Become Mass Media
1. Day and the New York Sun
2. Bennett and the New York Morning Herald
penny papers
The Industrial Revolution made possible the replacement of expensive handmade paper with cheaper machine-made paper. The replacement of mechanical presses by steam-powered presses, permitted publishers to produce as many as 4,000 newspapers an hour, which lowered the cost of newspapers. subscriptions were the preferred sales tool of many penny papers, but they also began relying on daily street sales of individual copies.
human-interest stories
news accounts that focus on the daily trials and triumphs of the human condition, often featuring ordinary individuals facing extraordinary challenges. These kinds of stories reveal journalism’s ties to literary traditions, such as the archetypal conflicts between good and evil, normal and deviant, or between individuals and institutions.
Day and the New York Sun
In 1833, printer Benjamin Day founded the New York Sun with no subscriptions and the price set at one penny. The Sun highlighted local events, scandals, police reports, and serialized stories. Like today’s supermarket tabloids, the Sun fabricated stories including the infamous moon hoax, which reported “scientific: evidence of life on the moon. Within six months, the Sun’s lower price had generated a circulation of eight thousand, twice that of its nearest New York Competitor.
Bennett and the New York Morning Herald
The penny press era also featured James Gordon Bennett’s New York Morning Herald founded in 1835. Bennett, considered the first US baron, freed his newspaper from political influence. He established an independent paper serving middle- and working-class readers as well as his own business ambitions. The Herald carried political essays, news about scandals, business stories, a letters section, fashion notes, moral reflections, religious news, society gossip, colloquial tales and jokes, sports stories, and eventually reports from the Civil War.
Colonial Newspapers

During the colonial period, NY printer John Peter Zenger was arrested for seditious libel. He eventually won his case, which established the president that today allows US journalists and citizens to criticize public officials. In this 1734 issue, Zenger’s New York Weekly Journal reported his own arrest and the burning of the paper by the city’s “common hangman”.

In addition, Bennett’s paper sponsored ballon races, financed safaris, and overplayed crime stories. Charles Dickens, after returning to Britain from his first visit to America in the early 1840’s, used the Herald as a model for the sleazy Rowdy Journal, the fictional newspaper in his novel Martin Chuzzlewit. By 1860, the Herald reached nearly 80,000 readers, making it the world’s largest daily paper at the time.

wire services
began as commercial organizations that relayed news stories and information around the country and the world using telegraph lines, and, later, radio waves and digital transmissions.
sold Hearst and Pulitzer papers on the streets of NY in the 1890s. With more than a dozen dailies competing, street tactics were ferocious, and publishers often made young “newsies” news boys and girls-buy the papers they could not sell.
How were the penny papers innovative?
1. They were the first to cover crime.
2. They were neutral towards advertisers and printed virtually any ad.
How was the Associated Press (AP) formed?
Six New York Newspapers formed a cooperative arrangement to be the first major news wire service. The NY papers provided access to both their own stories and those from other newspapers.
What did the wire services do?

1. papers began sending reporters to cover DC in the early 1860s

2. More than 100 reporters from northern papers went south to cover the Civil War, relaying their reports back to their home papers via telegraph and wire services. The news wire companies enabled news to travel rapidly from coast to coast and set the stage for modern journalism.

What elevated newspapers from an entrepreneurial stage to the stage of a mass medium?
1. The marketing of news as a product and the use of modern technology to dramatically cut costs.
2. By adapting news content, penny papers captured the middle- and working-class readers who could now afford the paper and also had more leisure time to read it. As newspapers sought to sustain their mass appeal, news and “factual” reports about crimes and other items of human interest eventually superseded the importance of partisan articles about politics and commerce.
The Age of Yellow Journalism: Sensationalism and Investigation
What triggered the next significant period in American journalism?
The rise of competitive dailies and the penny press.
Yellow journalism

1. the emphasis on overly dramatic-or sensational-stories about crimes, celebrities, disasters, scandals, and intrigue.

2. sometimes forgotten, early in-depth “detective stories” the legacy for twentieth century investigative journalism.

Investigative journalism
news reports that hunt out and expose corruption, particularly in business and government.
Joseph Pulitizer’s New York World vs. William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal
A key player in the war was the first popular cartoon strip, which was shuttled back and forth between Hearst and Pulitzer papers during their furious battle for readers in the mid to late 1890s.
Yellow Kid
Generally considered America’s first comic-strip character, the Yellow Kid was created in the mid-1890’s by cartoonist Richard Outcault. The Cartoon was so popular that newspaper barons Joseph Pulitzer and William Hearst fought over Outcault’s services, giving yellow journalism its name.
Pulitzer and the New York World
Joseph Pulitzer

a Jewish-Hungarian immigrant, began his career in newspaper publishing in the early 1870s as part owner of the St. Louis Post. He then bought the bankrupt St. Louis Dispatch and merged it with the Post.

In 1883, Pulitzer bought the New York World and encouraged plain writing and the inclusion of maps and illustrations to help immigrant and working-class readers understand the written text.

Pulitzer instituted advice columns and women’s pages.

Like Bennett, Pulitzer treated advertising as a kind of news that displayed consumer products for readers. In fact, department stores became a major advertiser during this period. This development contributed directly to the expansion of consumer culture and indirectly to the acknowledgement of women as newspaper readers.

Created a lasting legacy by leaving $2 million to start the graduate school of journalism at Columbia University. Part of Pulitzer’s Columbia endowment established the Pulitzer Prizes, the prestigious awards given each year for achievements in journalism, literature, drama, and music.

The Post-Dispatch
Became known for stories that highlighted “sex and sin” and satires of the upper class. Pulitzer also viewed the Post-Dispatch as a “national conscience” that promoted the public good. He carried on the legacies of James Gordon Bennett: Making money and developing a “free and impartial” paper that would “serve no party but the people”. Within 5 years, the Post-Dispatch became one of the most influential newspapers in the Midwest.
The World

reflected the contradictory spirit of the yellow press. It crusaded for improved urban housing, better conditions for women, and equitable labor laws. It campaigned against monody practices by AT&T, Standard Oil, and Equitable Insurance. These crusades helped lay the groundwork for tightening federal antitrust laws in the early 1910s.

Pulitzer’s paper also manufactured news events and staged stunts, such as sending star reporter Nellie Bly around the world in 72 dye to beat the fake record in the novel around the world in 80 days.

Hearst and the New York Journal

The World’s biggest competition

Focused on lurid, sensational stories and appealed to immigrant readers by using large headlines and bold layout designs. To boost circulation, the Journal invented interviews, fake pictures, and encouraged conflicts that might result in a story.

In promoting journalism as mere dramatic storytelling, hearst reportedly said “The modern editor of the popular journal does not care for facts. The edit wants novelty. The editor has no objection to facts if they are also novel. But he would prefer a novelty that is not a fact to a fact that is not a novelty”

Hearst is remembered as an unscrupulous publisher who once hired gangsters to distribute his newspapers. However, he was considered a champion of the underdog, and his paper’s readership soared among the working and middle classes.

How did newspapers change in the late nineteenth century?
As newspapers pushed for greater circulation, newspaper reporting changed. Two distinct types of journalism emerged:
1. the story-driven model, dramatizing important events and used by the penny papers and the yellow press2. “just the facts” model, an approach that appeared to package information more impartially and that the six cent papers favored.

the story-driven model
dramatizing important events and used by the penny papers and the yellow press.
“just the facts” model
An approach that appeared to package information more impartially and that the six cent papers favored.
objectivity in modern journalism
As the consumer marketplace expanded during the industrial revolution, facts and news became marketable products. Throughout the mid-nineteenth century, the more a newspaper appeared not to take sides on its front pages, the more its readership base grew (although, as they are today, editorial pages were still often partisan). In addition, wire service organizations were serving a variety of newspaper clients in different regions of the country. To satisfy all clients, readers, and the wide range of political views, newspapers tried to appear more impartial.
Ochs and the New York Times

The idea of an impartial, or purely informational, news model was championed by Adolph Ochs, who bought the New York Times in 1896. He first ran the Chattanooga Times and then Took over the struggling times. Through strategic hiring, Ochs and his editors rebuilt the paper around substantial news coverage and provocative editorial pages.

To distance the times from the yellow press, the editors also downplayed sensational stories, instead covering major events and issues.

Difference between the New York Times and Hearst and Pulitzer Newspapers
The times was an informational paper that provided stock and real estate reports to businesses, court reports to legal professors, treaty summaries to political leaders, and theater and book reviews to educated general readers and intellectuals.
The New York Times
had established itself as the official paper of record by the 1920s. The Times was the first modern newspaper, gathering information and presenting news in a straightforward way-without the opinion of the reporter. Today, the times is known for its opinion columns and editorial pages as much as for its original reporting. Sets the agenda in the news-is seen as credible.
objective journalism
distinguishes factual reports from opinion columns, modern reporters strive to maintain a neutral attitude toward the issue or event they cover, they also search out competing points of view among the sources for a story.
inverted-pyramind style
a style of journalism in which news reports begin with the most dramatic or newsworthy information- answering who, what, where, and when (and less frequently why or how) questions at the top of the story-and then trail off with less significant details.
interpretive journalism
aims to explain and analyze key issues or events and place them in a broader historical or social context.
Walter Lippmann’s ranking of press responsibilities
1. to make a current record
2. to make a running analysis of it
3. on the basis of both, suggest plans
Literary Journalism
news reports that adapt fictional storytelling techniques to nonfictional material; sometimes called new journalism.
Broadcast News Embraces Interpretive Journalism

The rise of broadcast radio in the 1930s forced newspapers to become more analytical in their approach to news.

Some print journalists and editors came to believe that interpretive stories, rather than objective reports, could better compete with radio. They realized that interpretation was a way to counter radio’s and later television’s superior ability to report breaking news quickly- even live.

The Attack on Journalistic Objectivity
Former NYT Columnist Tom Wicker argued that in the early 1960s an objective approach to news remained the dominant model. According to Wicker, the “press had so wrapped itself in the paper chains of objective journalism that it had little ability to report anything beyond the bare and undeniable facts. Through the 1960s, attacks on the detachment of reporters escalated. News critic Jack Newfield rejected the possibility of genuine journalistic impartiality and argued that many reporters had become too trusting and uncritical of the powerful: “Objectivity is believing people with power and printing their press releases”. Eventually, the ideal of objectivity became suspect along with the authority of experts and professionals in various fields.
advocacy journalism
In which the reporter actively promotes a particular cause or viewpoint.
precision journalism
attempts to make he news more scientifically accurate by using poll surveys and questionnaires. Throughout the 1990s, precision journalism became increasingly important. However, critics have charged that every modern presidential campaign too many newspapers and tv stations become overly reliant on polls, thus reducing the coverage to racehorse journalism.
Racehorse journalism
telling only “who’s ahead” and “who’s behind” stories rather than promoting substantial debates on serious issues.
Newspapers: The Rise and Decline of Modern Journalism

1. *First Colonial Newspaper* In *1690*, Boston printer Benjamin Harris publishes the first North American newspaper- Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domesetick

2. *First precedent for Libel and Press Freedom* In *1734*, printerJohn Peter Zenger is arrested for seditious libel; a jury rules in Zenger’s favor in *1735*, establishing freedom of the press and newspapers’ right to criticize the government.

3. *First US Based Spanish Paper*
New Orleans El Misisipi is founded in *1808* to serve the Spanish-language readers.

4. *First African American Newspaper*
Freedom’s Journal begins its short-lived operation in *1827* establishing a tradition of newspapers speaking out against racism.

5. *First Native American Newspaper* The Cherokee Phoenix appears in Georgia in *1828*, giving a voice to tribal concerns as settlers encroach and more west.

6. *Penny Press*
Printer Benjamin Day founds the New York Sun in *1833* and sets the price at one cent, helping to usher in the penny press era and news for the working and emerging middle classes.

7. *Yellow Journalism*
Joseph Pulitzer buys the New York World in 1883; William Randolph Hearst buys the New York Journal in 1895 and battles Pulitzer during the heyday of the yellow journalism era.

8. *Modern Journalism*- Adolph Ochs buys the New York Times in *1896*, transforming it into “the paper of record” and jumpstarting modern “objective journalism”

9. *Catholic Worker*
In *1933* Dorothy Day cofounds a religious organization, its radical monthly paper, the Catholic Worker, opposes war and supports social reform.

10. *First Underground Paper*
In *1955*, the Village Voice begins operating in Greenwich Village.

11. *Watergate*
Investigative reporting by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post uncovers the Watergate scandal that leads to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in *1974*

12. *First Online Paper*
Ohio’s Columbus Dispatch in *1980* becomes the first newspaper to go online.

13. *Post-Modern News*
In *1982*, the Gannett chain launches USA Today, ushering in the postmodern era in news with the first paper modeled on television.

14. *Dominance of chains*
Led by Gannett, the Top. 10 newspaper chains by *2001* control more than one-half of the nation’s total daily newspaper circulation.

15. *Newspapers in peril*
In *2009*, a number of daily newspapers close, stop publishing daily editions, or go online only.

16. *Paywalls*
By *2014*, most newspapers were charging readers for access to all or part of their Web sites.