Before the era of the Internet, Radio, and Television; Newspapers were the only way to receive news, regardless on how late it was reported. During the pre-20th century era, newspapers were becoming of age.
Newspapers like the New York Times, Freedom Journal, and the Pennsylvania Evening Post were formed between 1783 through 1827. Even some tabloid newspapers were formed as well. At one point, the United States circulated more newspapers then any country in the world.
As usual, reporting on wars were newspapers best friend. Whenever it was the Boston Tea, the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War; newspapers were were quick to report on what happen in the battlefields. They also know that war news will always draw in more reader everyday.
Despite it’s circulation, newspapers were often slow on reporting major stories, such as obituaries on presidents, writers, celebrities , and war veterans. An example would be 1616 when William Shakespeare died, but newspapers did not report his death for several months.
Christopher Columbus dies in 1494, but no obituary or report of his death until two months later. King William III dies on March 8th of 1702, but American newspapers didn’t issue the story until May 17th.
So newspapers were slow on reporting deaths of famous figure, and did not reported until several months later.
Can you imagine that happening today? When Ted Kennedy died, people knew the news in seconds thanks to twitter, the internet, and television. When JFK was assassinated, people learn the news within minutes on old black & white televisions and car radios.
Now, I know its unfair to judge newspapers to their accountability. They have limited technology before the 20th century, and the printing press was still booming
But if you want an era when news was slowing spreading, just look at the time periods between the beginning phases of word of mouth and the end of the 19th century.