To this day, storytelling via word of mouth is a prominent method of distributing information. The primary flaw in this method however, whether it’s a grandmother passing down family history or a recount of a recent event, is that it’s extremely difficult to keep facts straight when the same story is shared between multiple people. It’s a natural tendency for individuals to have different interpretations of the same story, which results in information changing as it spreads in a spoken form.
The rise in popularity in handwriting in the 15th century for purposes other than record keeping and the improvement of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg both contributed to the development of a more reliable method of distribution of news. When information was translated directly from the source to paper, it became much simpler to share accurate information and facts.
Columbus took advantage of this change when he wrote a letter to the king and queen of Spain sharing his experiences and discoveries from his time spent in the “new world”. Recording his thoughts on paper not only helped him to relay his findings more accurately, but allowed for easier distribution of them to the public after his return.
Columbus’ letter is just one of many written records to come that would continue to help inform the public on topics they couldn’t experience firsthand. This advancement in the world of storytelling is absolutely key to the development of the news as we know it today.