The nineteenth century was a period of that witnessed huge rise of importance of the newspapers in the United States of America. Journalism, “which deals with the media presentation of news” (Eadie, 2009, p.31) rose to the level of an important profession…
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Press became a part of the commercial community in America (Conboy, 2002, p. 43). Sensationalism over the facts was a method by which readership of the newspapers was increased and also played a significant role in modifying public opinion. “Yellow Journalism” became an important style of reporting (U.S. Diplomacy and Yellow Journalism, 1895-1898, n.d.). This paper deals with the question “how important were newspapers in the United States in the 19th century?” Social changes in Europe: Its validity in the context of contemporary USA The Nineteenth century saw the birth of a new Europe. Political and social changes occurred within the system of the continent and this change involved the common mass. The working class of the European countries was subjected to the ruling patriarchal system in which the government decided the right and wrong for the society. The population of each country was treated as subjects who were considered incapable of taking decisions and maximizing their own profits. The government took decisions for them that a father would take decision for his child. These decisions were imposed upon them from the outside and maximized the benefit of the government. This pattern of system was questioned with the onset of Liberalism in Europe. Changes in relationship between the government and its people The change in the social system made provisions for the commoners to read and write. They were given access to newspapers which helped them to get elaborate information about the happenings in the society. The common people got the chance to enter the political system and started to have access to political tracts. The establishment of the railways enabled the people to move from one place to another. This was a huge turning point. The freedom of movement of the people across different places allowed them to change their patrons and take employment from the employers of their own choice. In a nut shell, the commoners learnt to safeguard their own interests, make decisions of their own and would not again be subjected to the patriarchal system of government (Hamerow, 1983, p. 119). Edward Carrington was “a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1786 to 1788” (“Jefferson’s preference for “newspapers without government” over “government without newspapers”, 1787) sent by Thomas Jefferson. In this convention were the delegates that came from the colonies that later constituted the body to govern the United States of America. During this time, Jefferson expressed the importance of the press and its existence to Carrington in one of his letters. He emphasized “that every man should receive those papers & be capable of reading them” (“Jefferson’s preference for “newspapers without government” over “government without newspapers”, 1787). Jefferson would prefer to have efficient newspapers without a government in the country. The newspapers would act as effective mode of communication and transfer of information which were the most important necessities for having a stable nation. In his strong opinion, if the government becomes inattentive towards the interests of the public, they become exploitative and the commoners are subjected to exploitation. In this context, it has been aptly described that “man is the only animal which devours his own kind” (Amendment I (Speech and Press), 1787) and the poor becomes the prey of the richer classes. His radical insights probed into the character of the government and ...
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