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Chapter 3 of a university course in media history by Prof. Bill Kovarik, based on the book Revolutions in Communication: Media History from Gutenberg to the Digital Age (Bloomsbury, 2nd ed., 2015).

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  1. 1. Media History from Gutenberg to the Digital Age Slides based on the Bloomsbury book by Bill Kovarik Revolutions in Communication Chapter 3 – The press and the 20th century -- #7
  2. 2. Web site & textbook Textbook: 1st edition – 2011 2nd edition – 2016
  3. 3. Press in transition  Early 20th century ◦ Publishers at the top of their games ◦ Technology mature, profits high ◦ Most towns had two papers  1970s – technology driven mergers ◦ Monopoly newspaper takes over  2000s – digital revolution ◦ Most newspapers in deep financial trouble ◦ Democratic experiment also in trouble
  4. 4. Overview  Muckraking press  World War I press  Russian Communist revolution  Indian non-violent revolution  German Nazi revolution  World War II press  Civil Rights era  Vietnam and Watergate era  Literary & Gonzo journalism  Environmental journalism  End game for the printing revolution
  5. 5. State of the press 1911 • Will Irwin series Colliers Magazine • The press is “wonderfully able… (but) with real faults.” • “It is the mouthpiece of an older stock. It lags behind the thought of its times. . . • “To us of this younger generation, our daily press is speaking, for the most part, with a dead voice, because the supreme power resides in men of that older generation.” • Blamed Associated Press monopoly A familiar complaint Will Irwin’s ideas about newspapers are similar to those of many young writers today.
  6. 6. Muckrakers • Speech by Teddy Roosevelt April 14, 1906 • Seen as an attack on investigative press • Cites John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress (1678) • Man with the Muck Rake • He “fixes his eyes … only on that which is vile and debasing…” • “At this moment we are passing through a period of great unrest-social, political, and industrial unrest. • “It is of the utmost importance for our future that this should prove to be not the unrest of mere rebelliousness against life, of mere dissatisfaction with the inevitable inequality of conditions, but the unrest of a resolute and eager ambition to secure the betterment of the individual and the nation. • Many journalists embraced the term
  7. 7. Who were the muckrakers? • Ida B. Wells Baker-Barnett (1862– 1931) • An African American editor of Free Speech newspaper in Memphis, TN, • Investigated the 1891 lynching of three innocent men at the hands of a white mob. • Newspaper was burned down – fled to New York • Became one of the most influential leaders in the early civil rights movement.
  8. 8. Who were the muckrakers? Lincoln Steffens (1866–1936) Noted for “The Shame of the Cities” 1904 series on municipal corruption for McClure’s Magazine. Upton Sinclair (1878–1968) “The Jungle,” a 1906 novel about the meat packing industry of Chicago Based on investigations by Sinclair for the Socialist magazine Appeal to Reason. Public uproar led to the establishment of the Food and Drug Administration.
  9. 9. Who were the muckrakers? Ida Tarbell (1857–1944) Exposed Standard Oil company’s rise to monopoly by corrupt business practices In a 1902 series in McClure’s Magazine. Encouraged antitrust law enforcementOther muckrakers: David Graham Phillips (1867–1911)—In “Treason of the Senate,” a 1906 series in Cosmopolitan exposed senators who had taken direct bribes Cecil Chesterton (1879–1918)— London’s New Witness, exposed stock fraud in the Marconi Scandal of 1912. French Le Matin also investigated. Samuel Hopkins Adams (1871–1958)— “The Great American Fraud,” Collier’s Magazine in 1905, exposed patent medicine. (See Ch. 6 Advertising)
  10. 10. Kölnische Zeitung (Cologne Gazette) March 2, 1914
  11. 11. WWI and the press 1914 - Belgium  Outside the station in the public square, the people of Louvain (Belgium) passed in an unending procession, women bareheaded, weeping, men carrying the children asleep on their shoulders, all hemmed in by the shadowy army of gray wolves . . . It was all like a scene upon the stage, unreal, inhuman. You felt it could not be true…  Richard Harding Davis, 1914
  12. 12. WWI and the press 1914 - Belgium  Allegations by British of German atrocities 1,200 refugees (not under oath) and no corroboration. Not one allegation later found true by a Belgian commission 1922.  Bryce Commission report May 12, 1915 ◦ “That there were in many parts of Belgium deliberate and systematically organized massacres of the civil population, accompanied by many isolated murders and other outrages." ◦ “That in the conduct of the war generally innocent civilians, both men and women, were murdered in large numbers, women violated, and children murdered.”
  13. 13. German response  German authorities in response to the Bryce Report published the White Book five days later. The book contained records where Belgians were guilty of atrocities committed on German soldiers.  Kolnische Zeitung – This new official collection of despicable lies is intended to whip up people to join the army, improve England’s wretched military situation…
  14. 14. Phillip Gibbs, British correspondent  Doubtless there were many atrocities, but I could never get evidence of any of them… No living babies had their hands cut off, or women their breasts. No Canadians (soldiers) were ever crucified, although it will be believed for all time.”
  15. 15. US Creel Committee
  16. 16. WWI and the press  Censorship official on both sides  Press wore army uniforms  French and British newspapers often ran with empty spaces where stories were pulled by censors  George Seldes interview with German Gen. Hindenburg was censored after war, contributing to Dolchstoßlegende myth that led to rise of Nazis
  17. 17. 1918: Photo of US troops celebrating in a German mess hall was censored because US troops could not be depicted drinking beer.
  18. 18. The Bolo Pasha affair • WWI German plot to buy French newspapers using money laundered by American banks. • Bolo Pasha bought Le Journal of Paris to advocate surrender to the Germans. • Linked to German spy Mata Hari, also briefly to William Randolph Hearst • Pasha was executed for treason by the French in 1917 The French WWI Bolo Pasha affair showed that manipulation of the press could be a tactic of warfare
  19. 19. Russian revolution  ‘First step’ in the Russian Revolution of 1917 was to create a newspaper  The mere task of writing and distributing Iskra (Spark) would create a network of agents  Despite this, absolute censorship was the rule  Execution of dissidents was commonplace Vladimir Lenin started a newspaper in order to start a revolution. But he was no friend of the free press.
  20. 20. Mysterious propaganda photo Ukraine, about 1925. Would journalists really set type on the back of a truck in the middle of a wheat field? Was it staged, or faked, or part of a serious effort to get journalists close to the people?
  21. 21. John Reed (1887 – 1920)  American journalist who wrote passionately about the Russian revolution of 1917.  “As we came out into the dark and gloomy day all around the grey horizon, factory whistles were blowing, a hoarse and nervous sound, full of foreboding. By tens of thousands, the working people poured out … and the humming slums belched out their dun and miserable hordes.”  From Ten Days that Shook the World
  22. 22. India’s non-violent revolution
  23. 23. Nazi revolution  Germany 1920s - 1945  Took over all newspapers, wire services  All journalists who resisted were killed  Absolute censorship Nazi book burning, Opernplatz, Berlin, May 10, 1933. “A scene not witnessed since the Middle Ages, and a harbinger of disaster,” said correspondent William L.
  24. 24. WWII and the US press  Furious debates on US home front  Pre-war links between US and Nazi industries infuriated Americans  Censorship by military on front lines ◦ But that didn’t stop news about incidents like Gen. Patton slapping shell-shocked soldiers  Reconstruction of press in Germany & Japan was a top post-war priority
  25. 25. WWII correspondents “There is an agony in your heart and you almost feel ashamed to look at them. They are just guys from Broadway and Main Street, but you wouldn’t remember them.… If you could see them just once, just for an instant, you would know that no matter how hard people work back home, they are not keeping pace with these infantrymen.” -- Ernie Pyle“The God-Damned Infantry” was among Ernie Pyle’s best – remembered articles. A soldier’s writer, Pyle concentrated on the ordinary guys, not the generals and the grand strategies.
  26. 26. WWII correspondents “The liberation (of Dachau) was a frenzied scene … Inmates of the camp hugged and embraced the American troops, kissed the ground before them and carried them shoulder high around the place.” -- Marguerite Higgins, May, 1945 Only three years out of journalism school, Marguerite Higgins convinced editors at the Herald Tribune to send her to Europe in 1944. She also broke barriers for women reporters everywhere, convincing Gen. Douglas MacArthur to lift the ban on women correspondents in the Korean War in 1950.
  27. 27. Double V for African AmericansPittsburg Courier, Chicago Defender and others were main source of news for African Americans But wartime news of prejudice and rioting against blacks was suppressed by government In WWI, critical reporting even led to the conviction of one African American editor under the Sedition Act In WWII, settled on “Double V” -- Victory over fascism abroad, victory over racism at home Chicago Defender publisher John Sengstacke and an unidentified editor c. 1943
  28. 28. Hutchins Commission 1947  Truthful, comprehensive, and intelligent account of the day’s events in a context which gives them meaning;  Forum for the exchange of comment and criticism;  Representative picture of the constituent groups in the society;  Presentation and clarification of the goals and values of the society; and  Full access to the day’s intelligence.
  29. 29.  One of the best moments in the history of the press  Press became an agent of US reconciliation  Framed issues as “Civil Rights” not “race war”  Many incidents outraged public ◦ Killings of Emmett Till 1955, Medgar Evers 1963, Viola Liuzzo, many more ◦ Bombings of churches in Alabama and Georgia ◦ Selma, Alabama bridge attack by police caught on film changed the world  A civil rights bombing was “… the harvest of defiance of the courts and the encouragement of citizens to defy law on the part of many Southern politicians.” -- Ralph McGill, Atlanta Journal & Constitution Civil Rights and the Press
  30. 30. Growing global press influence  The suppression of US civil rights demonstrators was embarrassing to the US government  Comparisons were made to Aparthied in South Africa and the Sharpville massacre of 1960  US Voting Rights Act of 1965 and federal support for civil rights was one result  International press coverage was one of many essential conditions for change
  31. 31. Watergate 1972 – 74 Uncovered by two Washington Post reporters Found Watergate burglars searching Democratic national headquarters had links to Republicans in White House Investigated “dirty tricks” campaign, also money to pay operatives and burglars Resulted in resignation of President Richard Nixon and criminal convictions for seven members of administration. Money laundering, extortion, fraud, and tampering with election process were among the issues. Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Washington Post
  32. 32. Vietnam war coverage  US press critical of war methods but generally supportive of war aims  TV Networks generally kept gory footage off the air  Public opinion against war stronger than press coverage  Idea of press subverting war is akin to German “dolschtoss” myth  Nevertheless, US conservatives still blame press for “losing the war”
  33. 33. Vietnam coverage was pro- war But not pro-war enough for some US “hawks” Reporters David Halberstam (NY Times), Malcolm Brown (AP) and Neil Sheehan (UPI) typified slightly critical attitude towards the war.
  34. 34. Literary Journalism  In 1960s, newspaper & magazine feature writers broke the molds  Used literary devices to make non- fiction read like a novel ◦ Dialogue, scene-by-scene construction, status detail, omniscient narration  Writers included Tom Wolfe, Joan Dideon, John McPhee  Example: The Right Stuff (about US space program) by Wolfe.
  35. 35. Gonzo Journalism  First person participation  Not objective  Often used alcohol, drugs  Hunter S. Thompson ◦ Fear and Loathing series ◦ Solace in excess like Great Gatsby ◦ Thompson agreed with Faulkner that "the best fiction is far more true than any kind of journalism — and the best journalists have always known this.”
  36. 36. Environmental news  Not a new phenomena – ◦ Water pollution was covered by Benjamin Franklin in 1730s  Major new interest due to energy crisis, Earth Day, oil spills, nuclear disasters and climate change  Specialized science writers emerge to handle complexities of coverage ◦ National Association of Science Writers, Society of Environmental Journalists
  37. 37. End game for the press?  New technologies made printing more profitable in 1970s …  Leading to consolidations and mergers … but  Monopolies grew complacent  Wall Street demanded even more profit (20-40%)  Press was in a weak position to meet the digital revolution 2000 – 2015
  38. 38. Some say this is a ….
  39. 39. The usual bromides  Book & newspaper publishing is dead  We’re in a post-literate age ◦ Nobody reads (not true, actually)  Emerging new publishing models ◦ Educational non-profit 501c3  Politico, Climate Central, Env Health News ◦ Subcompact publication  Apple Newsstand, Amazon, Kindle ◦ Self-publishing and eBooks
  40. 40. Aggregators, foundation funding
  41. 41. New ideas: Berlin daily newspaper & consumer co-op
  42. 42. Community media co-ops Video Co-ops Consumer Services Info Services B&C Co-op Digital Services Games Co-op Training Maintenance Storage Admin. News, bloggers, calendar, oral histories, publishing, translations Group purchasing – Coffee, books, bikes, etc. TEDx, interest group yearbooks (sports, music)Sharing, classes, competitions Scanning, transfers, Web services Business & employment co-op
  43. 43. New media investments  Bill Gates (Microsoft) ◦ MSNBC (1996) / successful  Steve Case (AOL) ◦ Merged w/ Time Warner (2000) / failure  Jeff Bezos (Amazon) ◦ Washington Post, 2013 / jury still out  Peter Omidyar (Ebay) ◦ First Look Media, Fall 2013 / Epic incompetence, aloof management
  44. 44. Review: People  Will Irwin, Richard Harding Davis, Ida B. Wells, Samuel Hopkins Adams, Lincoln Steffens, Cecil Chesterton, Ida Tarell, David Graham Phillips, Upton Sinclair, Bolo Pasha, George Seldes, John Reed, Frederick Douglass, John H. Johnson, Ralph McGill, Homer Bigart, Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, John Hershey
  45. 45. Review: Issues  Minority media, muckrakers, press in WWI censorship, WWII, Double V, covering Vietnam, Civil Rights, Watergate, Hutchins Commission, Gonzo journalism, Literary journalism, Environmental & science coverage, end of the line for newspapers?
  46. 46. Next: Chapter 4 Photography