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Roman contribution to journalism: the politics section

Posted by: | March 15, 2016 | No Comment |

As journalism began to increase in popularity as printing presses came about, many of the stories were focused on crime or war stories. Though some of these stories had political aspects to them, nothing had quite as much focus on politics as the Acta Senatus had centuries before this development.

Acta Senatus Tablet

       Acta Senatus Tablet

The Acta Senatus was Julius Caesar‘s way of letting the people of Rome know what their representatives did in the Senate. Today, political sections in newspapers look both familiar and different compared to the stories found in the Acta Senatus.

Though it is believed that the Roman Senate may have been keeping track of their activities since 449 B.C., the records were not made public until 59 B.C. These publications continued until at least 222 A.D., meaning they were around about as long as newspapers have been here in America.

Political journalism today

Example of political journalism today. Can be found at http://www.politico.com


However, though the sections and content may look the same, that is where the similarities end. Newspapers today are mass produced and meant for everyone, whereas the Acta Senatus was posted in Rome and typically only copied for the elites who could read them.

Also unlike the Acta Senatus, today’s newspapers are not government publications, but typically privately funded ones. Though this form of political coverage today suffers from ownership bias itself, it is preferable compared to having political news being produced by the politicians themselves.

Today we see news sources like The Hill and Politico carrying out the tradition of the Acta by covering political affairs in our own capitol. Whether it is in Rome, Washington D.C., or Paris, covering politics has become an essential part of journalism, and for that we can thank the Acta Senatus.

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