THE NATION'S NEWSBROKERS, Vol. II, The Rush to Institution From 1865 to 1920 by Richard A. Schwarzlose

THE NATION'S NEWSBROKERS, Vol. II, The Rush to Institution From 1865 to 1920

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With this impressively detailed but poorly organized follow-up to The Nation's Newsbrokers, Vol. I, The Formative Years, from Pretelegraph to 1865 (p. 279), Schwarzlose (Journalism/Northwestern) completes his history of the rise and development of the nation's two dominant news-wire services, AP and UPI. Here, Schwarzlose focuses on events following the Civil War, shifting ""from newsbrokering's early reliance on emerging technology to the political and economic struggles that led to the formation of a newsbroker institution controlled by publishers rather than independent entrepreneurs or by the telegraph companies."" But this volume's most fascinating material remains the context in which those political and economic struggles occurred--the dizzying pace of technological expansion of the era, from the race to lay a transatlantic telegraph cable, first accomplished in 1866, to the growth of telegraph lines in the US from 76,000 miles in 1866 to 769,000 miles in 1983, and the equally important impact of the telephone and typewriter. While documenting conflict and collusion among interests contesting for control of this technology, Schwarzlose fails to adequately draw the political lines in a way that explains their relation to the broader political battles of the day. For example, was there more to the battles between the New York and Chicago-based organizations of AP in the 1870's than merely regional interests? Undoubtedly there was, possibly linked to the virtual monopoly that the British-based Reuters wire had over the New York AP's access to European news. Schwarzlose skates over such questions. Although boasting significant research, this study confuses by constantly jumping back and forth in time in an apparent but unconvincing attempt to draw meaningful conclusions from the straggles over access to news between the Civil War and WW I. Still, if not a gripping chronicle, this remains a valuable resource on the early days of newsbrokering.

Pub Date: Feb. 9th, 1989
Publisher: Northwestern Univ. Press