The main distinctions between news media of today in that of the late 1800s to early 1900s are the number of audience reached and the medium used to reach the audience. During the late 1800s to early 1900s, news media relied mainly on newspaper as the medium. Newspaper was the earliest "news media" which brought information and opinion to its readers. However, the earliest newspapers were not aimed at the masses. In contrast to modern times, when literacy rate is much higher and newspapers are much more affordable for the masses. During the 1800s and 1900s, only a small number of literate people among the wealthy classes purchased copies of weekly newspapers. These newspapers mostly contained international news from foreign newspapers, but little local content beyond the "official" announcements that the government wanted publicized and notices of items offered for sale by local merchants (Webb).
In the late 19th century, the invention of a technology for making paper from wood fibers, rather than rags, made paper less expensive to produce. At the same time, population growth and increased literacy raised the potential readership, making it possible for newspapers to support themselves through advertising revenue, rather than relying upon the financial backing of a political ally (Webb). Starting in 1912 and running until the mid 1930s, the newly invented telegraph was used to compile daily news summaries from newspaper reports and transmitted these by Morse code to all of the telegraph. This "Public Dispatch" was also carried into other locations by radio. Wherever it was received, the news summaries would be written out by the telegraph officer and posted on a wall, or read by the operator to local people who could not read (Webb). It was only around 1920 that radio broadcasting got started. However, compared to modern radio, it was too expensive to do transmissions over long distances, and there were only a limited number of frequencies available, which limited the growth of the radio (Herman et al, also Mickelsson).
Despite the advancement in newspaper, telegraph technology, and radio, news media during the late 1800s and early 1900s, news media reached only a fraction of audience, mostly the elite few who were literate. By comparison, the 20th century and early 21st century news media has a global audience. There has seen a rapid expansion of mass communications, using the old medium of the printed word as well as newer ones such as radio, moving pictures, television and, most recently, computers and the internet (Webb), thus, giving the audience more options especially if they are not literate. Newspapers nowadays also have some similar limitation as in the past such as cost. Many newspapers of today, failed to meet the challenges posed by competition from other media and rising costs. Media conglomerates--business operations whose first responsibility is to produce a profit for shareholders, owned those that survived. Critics would suggest that for such newspapers economic efficiency takes precedence over public service (Webb). Duplication technology also played a vital role in making today's new media more distinct from 1800s and 1900s. Today's technology has allowed the massive duplication