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Schudson Chapter 3: Two Journalisms in the 1890s

Posted by: | December 3, 2009 | No Comment |

In the 3rd chapter of Discovering the News, Schudson discusses two types of journalism in the 1890’s that influenced the journalism standards we see today. These two types of journalism are “journalism as entertainment,” and “journalism as information.”

Schudson starts out by asking two important questions about these two types of journalism. “What is it about the story that seems to attract the working-class reader,” and “What is it about information that seems to appeal to the educated middle class?” In order to find explanations for these questions, Schudson discusses two different newspapers, the World and the New York Times.

When looking at “journalism as entertainment,” Schudson refers to Joseph Pulitzers, New York World in 1883. The World was known for its sensationalism. It included attention-grabbing stories that were unusual, yet entertaining.

During this time, the majority of people in America were immigrants. Because these immigrants had a limited English vocabulary, The World was well suited for them because the stories were written simply and clearly.

Along with immigrants, the World appealed to women as well. This is because there was a “New Woman” movement going on during this time and Pulitzer gave space in his paper for women’s issues. These issues were not particularly about women’s rights, but rather domestic things such as fashion, beauty and cooking.

Bold illustrations, large headlines, and sensational stories were elements of the World that classified it as “journalism as entertainment.” The World placed emphasis on entertaining and grabbing the reader’s attention, rather then just informing the reader.

In contrast, Schudson discusses “journalism as information” in the 1890’s by looking at the New York Times. The New York Times established itself with standards much different from the World. It was concerned with providing readers with “pure,” factual information. This type of journalism was appealing to wealthy and educated people. These types of people were more attracted to the truth-value of news, instead of sensationalism. Because the New York Times was more popular to these types of people, it was more socially approved and respected then the World.

Both newspapers would not have been nearly as successful with out the penny press, according to Schudson. The penny press caused both newspapers to increase their circulation dramatically in only one year.

In the end of the chapter, Schudson discusses these two journalisms in relation to objectivity. Objectivity was not as important in journalism in the 1890’s as it was in later years. Because of this, both story-based and information-based newspapers still caused for later skepticism.

Story-based news was filled with biased, sensationalist stories, while information-based newspapers were giving out facts without any context to back them up.

These two types of journalisms “influenced journalism in the 1920’s and 1930’s and gave rise to the ideal of objectivity as we know it,” according to Schudson.

The two different standards of journalism seen from the World and the New York Times would eventually come together to form a more balanced type of news that still told a story, but in an objective way.

As Schudson says in his book, the newspaper has 3 functions: to inform, to interpret, and to entertain. The World and the New York Times helped influence these 3 functions of a newspaper that we see today.

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