Saturday, February 17, 2007

Chapter 2 "New Foundations"

Periodicals of the 18th Century
"As a result of deliberate policy, Virginia continued without any press through the first three decades of the 18th century. In the 1680's a printer tried to establish a shop but was forced to leave before issuing a single work; he then moved to Maryland, where he was jailed for printing the proceedings of the assembly, told never to publish anything concerned with politics again, and therefore primarily confined himself to printing blank legal forms." (Starr 53)
Clearly those who had high political positions of the 18th century knew that with knowledge comes power, and with power comes uprisings. The alete political figures were now working together with the aletes of economic postitions to establsih capitol with the publishing of periodicals. Power once again was being denied to citizens because they had to be able to afford the periodicals and also be able to read them. Most could not afford or read them therefore this was the tactic used to supress citizens once again. The only press permitted to be printed by printers were blank legal forms.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Cheap Print "Extra Extra"

Starr. Chapter 4

Cheap print originated in the first half of the nineteenth century in both Europe and the United States. And when I say cheap print, I do mean cheap as in the price of a novel or paper, but also sometimes in the quality of the actual print. During this time in America, newspapers went from six cents to two and book went from two dollars to onle a quarter.

“These were criticized for being cheap in both senses of the word: low in prive and low in taste” (Starr p.124)

Even with this, the publishers actually printed “cheap” versions and more “expensive” copies of the same books. This was in an effort to reach a wide group of people such as the rich and poor, and yes some of the writings were not exactly scholarly but none the less people were being exposed to a new form of communication. However this didn’t quite work as well as you may think. Even if a poor person was able to afford a book, chances were they may not be able to read it. Most poor people tended to listen as someone read a book out loud.

But print was becoming huge none the less and with its popularity growing; eventually more and more people became somewhat literate. Books were cheap and passed on from one person to the next, and people went from reading to scanning and then moving on.

John Peter Zenger

For an account of the Zenger trial check out this site posted by Douglas O. Linder of the UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-KANSAS CITY (UMKC) SCHOOL OF LAW.

Keep posting!

Remember that it is a requirement for every student to post at least once a week.

You should be posting about the weekly assigned readings.

The best text to post about is Starr's Creation of the Media This week we are reading chapter two and three.

Remember to bring your book to class!

Class Schedule: 2/20 & 2/22

Tu. 2/20
Public Knowledge: The Post, The Press & the Public School

Starr, chapter 3: “America’s First Information Revolution.”

Th. 2/22
Newspapers for a New Nation: The Penny Press in the City

Starr, chapter 4: “Capitalism and Democracy in Print,”
Excerpts from The Sun, 1834:
“Life of a Newspaper—[By itself.—]” “A Cannibal Feast,”
“Police Office—(Yesterday.)” & “Great Astronomical Discoveries,”
Frank M. O’Brian, “Richard Adams Locke’s Moon Hoax,” 1928.
P.T. Barnum, “Printed Circular Letter,” 1850.

Franklin's Heartfelt Apology

In Benjamin Franklin's 1931 article (Apology For Printers) from his newspaper the Pennsylvania Gazette he writes:
"Being frequently censur'd and condemn'd by different persons for printing
things which they say ought not to be printed, I have sometimes thought it might
be necessary to make a standing Apology for my self, and to publish it once a
year, to be read upon all occasions of that nature."

While reading the article there is a slight sense of sarcasm upon Franklin's 'apology', due to the generalization and the 'once a year' posting. It seemed as though he was mocking the people who were angry with him because of his opinions in writings printed. Later in the article, he went on to explain his reasoning behind printing his opinions and almost attempted to convince the readers. Now, in the 21st century, the mere thought of a writer apologizing to people and feeling compelled to explain themselves to unsatisfied opposers is almost unheard of. With freedom of the press, which Franklin didn't have, there is usually no longer a need to apologize for your thoughts. There are obviously exceptions in which it is necessary for public explanation and concession when someone is truly offensive and purposely hurtful, however the majority of opinions need no explanation.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Constitutional Choices

In Chapter two of Starr's book The Creation of Media he talks about the constitutions written during the Revolutionary era and how the help promote the use of the press. Even though their were many people against some of the issues of the Constitution we know that freedom of the press was kept in and is still highly valued today. With the addition of freedom of speech, including discussions about religion resulted in more amendments.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

This became the standard and gave the press the freedom to explore and be
separate from the government and able to speak the truth. This was the beginning of what we know of the press today.

The Written Constitution

Paul Starr mentioned theories that relates to the importance of our constitution in the beginning. While reading a particular section called "Constitutional Choices" in chapter two, Starr gave us insights as to how significant the written constitution was. There, the fundamentals of government pertaining to social issues are emphasized and is all possible because of the written amendments. Opposing views were formed such as the Federalists and anti-federalists which changes the structure of the government over a period of time. Because of this revolution, ( a written framework of the government), changes have been made which ultimately evolved into a new society and will continue to change as it addresses political and social conflicts.

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Short Take On The Newspaper and the American Communication Revolution

In reading and nearing the end of chapter three in Starr, I came across some of the innovations that made up the first American Revolution in communication, and I found them interesting. Freedom of speech was established and written into the constitution and the constitution itself was written in a way so that everyday people would be able to read it. This was very important, because if you have a set of laws of the land, but the common folk can’t understand it then it almost seems pointless. Also in the reading Starr states that

“Instead of taxing newspapers, the government subsidized them”. (Starr p.107)
This was important so that most people could get there hands on a newspaper and read up about the latest news as well as new census counts and so on. I feel that this was one of the most important parts of the communication revolution because back then the most formidable form of communication was the newspaper. It was beginning to be the main focal point of news and information.

Benjamin Franklin and Printing

According to apology for printers "That the business of printing has chiefly to do with mens opinion; most things that are printed tending to promote some, or oppose others. (Apology for Printers pg. 34, Benjamin Franklin)

My opinion about this statment that Benjamin Franklin wrote is that he was apologizing about the articles that he wrote. The printing business isn't about peoples opinions. The business of printing is about promoting a certain idea that has to do in helping to change or reconstruct a society. The printing business is also about people learning things that they don't know. Printing can also be used for opposition of theories and ideas.

Foundations for American Communication

During and after the American Revolution, "had profound effects on communication." (Starr 64) The revolution brought about a Republic and Democratic society where the people ran the government. This meant that the responsibility of a good citizen was to keep up with the times and the newspaper was their greatest tool for receiving information. (Starr 64) The idea of the colonists being well informed was not enough to run the government; what gave these people the greatest power was for the first time they had the freedom to speak out. "The revolution dignified their right to speak up-literally..." as did the events that they protested to leading up to the revolution which is why freedom of speech became so popular.
Ultimately, when analyzing the American Revolution people only see our country being freed from British tyranny, but in fact our culture changed forever with the new development of our government. Communicating with not only one another at all times became significant but to speak out against anybody in society is what still separates our country from others today. The press not only started propaganda for the Revolution but it gave the people of the thirteen colonies a chance at a national identity and to form common interests out in the open. (Starr 70)

*Join or Die, by Benjamin Franklin was recycled to encourage the former colonies to unite against British rule. *

Seditous libel disappears

"The Zenger verdict vindicated the idea that the press could serve as a guardian of popular liberty by scrutinizing government. Moreover, while royal officials still had authority to suppress seditious libel, they virtually gave up trying to do so after the Zenger trial Between 1735 and the AmericanRevolution, the risk of being tried for seditious libel by British colonial authorities effectively disappeared" (The Creation of the Media, Starr (p. 59) .

Where would we be without freedom of speech! We must always remember our right to free speech. Case in point.... the Dixie Chicks were recognized at the Grammy's for their free speech. Banned from the music business because of words spoken, the tone of our country is changing and with that the realization that without freedom of speech, we have nothing.

Early censorship in France

The Bastille, Porte and Faubourg St. Antoine, ca. 16th-17th cent.

According to Starr's 1st chapter in Early Modern Origins, he states:

"Down to the revolution, the French state continued to exercise
direct supervision over the realm of print through prepublication censorship and an extensive system of book police. Approval for publication could come in the form of a privilege, which confirmed an exclusive right to publish, or a tacit permission, which the regime granted to works that it was willing to allow without formal approval. Censorship wasn't completely effective, but that doesn't mean it was completely inconsequential. The state committed substantial resources to enforcement. By 1750, there were 130 censors; over the
entire period from 1659 to 1789, 17% of the prisoners in the Bastille were sent there for offenses related to the book trade.
(p. 42)".

I found the contrast between France and England's control on publications to be interesting. As Starr related, English publishers had far more freedom to create new publications and sought wider markets, while France sought monopoly privileges, and cultivated a more limited readership (p. 42).