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“Age of the Reporter:” facts and sparkle

Posted by: | December 2, 2009 | No Comment |

Not until the 1890s were reporters truly regarded as necessities to the newspaper world.  Regardless of popular belief it was not the Civil War that set this new practice into motion.  Journalism was already heading in a new direction, and it was the papers of New York that would ultimately take it there.

The drama between William Randolph Hearst and Richard Harding Davis over a story run about the Spanish-American War in the New York Journal brought reporters to the forefront of newspaper drama.  Penny papers again set the tone by being the first to employ reporters for local news.

Wanting to stay ahead of the game, New York papers spent anywhere between $60, 000 and $100,000 reporting the Civil War whereas other cities including Boston and Philadelphia spent between $10,000 and $30,000. Just before the War, the New York Tribune became the first paper to use stereotyping as a way to make newspapers.

Education also became an important factor, improving the level of writing that was seen in newspapers.  Both the New York Sun and Commercial Advertiser preferred hiring college graduates, and this soon became the trend.

Another trend that was emerging was the desire of readers to be given the facts. Yet along with this, there was a desire to still enjoy the articles. Being colorful as well as factual became the way to write.  Edwin L. Shuman wrote in his book “Steps into Journalism” that the recipe for success for a reporter is “reliability and sparkle.”

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