THE NATION'S NEWSBROKERS: Vol. I: The Formative Years, from Pretelegraph to 1865 by Richard A. Schwarzlose

THE NATION'S NEWSBROKERS: Vol. I: The Formative Years, from Pretelegraph to 1865

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An analysis of the origins and growth of the wire services as a social insitution and cultural force in the US; by Schwarzlose (Journalism/Northwestern). Prior to Morse's invention of the telegraph, news crept through the country fitfully, depending on weather conditions and transportation systems. But after the arrival of telegraphy in 1838--and of fast, dependable transatlantic navigation (only two weeks later)--major transformations occurred in American journalism. Schwarzlose chronicles the strenuous efforts of editors to gather European news fast, particularly given the extraordinary European events of 1848. He also offers some interesting capsules of major figures in the new technology, such as Alexander Jones, who expanded and formalized telegraphic news practices for N.Y.C.'s Associated Press. Mild-mannered Jones was succeeded by firebrand Daniel Craig, whose scrappy nature led him to fight for an AP monopoly. But Craig's empire was ""a precarious house of cards,"" dependent upon his drive and acumen, his editors' unity and prestige, and the acquiescence of telegraph companies. Schwarzlose demonstrates how Craig was sorely challenged on all of these fronts during the Civil War years, which brought their own obstacles to newsbrokering--not the least of which were disrupted communications and government censorship. The unifying theme here is the extent to which the transmission and dissemination of news became looked upon almost as a public utility as news itself began to be seen more and more as a commodity. Well done, and a more thorough history than Victor Rosewater's History of Cooperative News-Gathering in the United States (1930).

Pub Date: March 17th, 1989
Publisher: Northwestern Univ. Press