The press at the century's turn

Cultural icon, corporate behemoth, corrupted arbiter.

The growth of the mass-circulation press of the nineteenth century perhaps more than any other idea reflected the confident spirit of an extroverted age. Journalism before the industrial revolution was a pastime of artisans, often a glorified newsletter for the politicians whose subventions kept them in business. Newspapers and magazines were expensive then, and mostly for serious readers. But confluence of social and industrial changes in the late nineteenth century upended the entire idea of what journalism ought to be.

Prepared for "The Coming of the Great War," November 2013 symposium, World War I Historical Association, National World War I Museum, Kansas City.

The PressRead the article (pdf).

Gilded Age pressSee the slide show.

Citizen Kane Watch a warmup video: Orson Welles in Citizen Kane fights for the common people.