Sunday, March 04, 2007

Bread and the Newspaper

Oliver Wendell Holmes article "Bread and the Newspaper" in the Atlantic M0nthly talks about the introduction of the telegraph and the connection it had with newspapers. The telegraph in 1861 was changing the way that information could be processed due to the speed that one could receive the information. Joined together with newspapers, "this perpetual intercommunication, joined to the power of instantaneous action, keeps us always alive with excitement." (Holmes 132) Holmes uses the American Revolutionary War and the Mexican War of Independence in 1812 as examples of information that was never readily available. He says, "War is a new thing to all of us who are not in the last quarter of our century." because now the whole nation is now penetrated by the ramifications of a network of iron nerves..." (Holmes 132) The technological advancement of the telegraph increased the rate at which newspapers received vital information for publishing and with the help of other technological advancements as the railroad for distribution, the whole country was interconnected and could receive information swiftly and thoroughly. With the increased amount of information available "this instant diffusion of every fact and feeling produces another singular effect in the equalizing and steadying of public opinion." (Holmes 133) The most important result of the telegraph might have been that with free speech already established, it provided society an opportunity for increased public opinion and activism in all current events at that time.


At 11:18 PM, Blogger A. Mattson said...

A good, substantial post.

How has war created a stimulus for an efficient system of point to point and mass communication? The demand for quick news and information created by conflict is important to understand. The industrial revolution and the growth of a market society were also crucial factors leading to the establishment of a national system of telegraphic communication.


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