Friday, February 23, 2007

The Great Moon Hoax

After reading the excerpts from The New York Sun’s Moon Hoax, I was amazed that so many people bought it, but then I got to thinking that it was only 1835 and things weren’t like they are today. So it made sense thinking in those terms. It seems to me like an excellent publicity stunt that may never be done again to the same extent. Back then in 1835 the newspaper was still a relatively new piece of information and I think a majority of people would believe whatever they read, simply because it was right there in front of them in print. So with this, tons of people bought into it and word spread and this penny newspaper made a lot of money. Of course this was the intent, along with popularity and grabbing the attention of the public for how ever long it could. So this Moon Hoax grabbed the attention of the public like nothing else and sold many copies of the New York Sun along with other newspapers that jumped on board with the story. I believe that this was a defining point for the newspaper industry because even thought it was fake news, it still showed that if you print something worth while, then people will buy and read it. It showed the power of the press. I don’t think something like this will ever happen again, just because you would need all forms of media in on it to pull the wool over America’s eyes or even the worlds. It’s just too easy now to get news stories from anyplace, weather it be your computer, phone or TV. I think the Moon Hoax is a classic example of someone trying to make some money. It worked.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Chapter 4 A Development of Popular Press


"Growing literacy, schooling, and a burgeoning economy and civil society
were generating larger markets for reading matter. With these markets came both
the rise of indigenous literary publishing and the transformation of print into
a form of mass entertainment and information. America followed a different path
from Europe in the development of both high culture; and a popular press. During
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Europe, royal courts were the centers
of high culture, the writers looked to royal and aristocratic patrons for
material support and prestige" (Starr, 114)


Obviously with the literacy rate rising due to a greater amount of educated citizens, there will be a greater demand for books. The rapidly growing literacy rate led to larger markets for reading matter. This was a great thing for people of all classes because their culture was about to witness an intellectual revolution were not only the rich were educated but now everyone would have a chance. This also led to more communicating between citizens because of literacy and education. A Civil society in America was about to be much more common, the number of intellectuals were about to double. With the demand for books and education came a rich society economically and socially.

Defaming Islam & the State: Egyptian Sedition Laws

Egyptian Blogger Sentenced to Prison - New York Times

The Associated Press reports that an Egyptian court has sentenced a blogger to four years in prison for defaming an Islamic college and the President of Egypt.

Until last year, Abdel Kareem Nabil was a student Al-Azhar University, which is an Islamic University. He got into trouble for criticizing the Al-Azhar, Islam, and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak on his blog. According to the Associated Press:

"Nabil, who used the blogger name Kareem Amer, had sharply criticized Al-Azhar on his Web log, calling it ''the university of terrorism'' and accusing it of suppressing free thought. He also often criticized Mubarak's regime on the blog.

In one post, he said Al-Azhar University ''stuffs its students' brains and turns them into human beasts ... teaching them that there is not place for differences in this life.''

He was a vocal critic of conservative Muslims and in other posts described Mubarak's regime as a ''symbol of dictatorship.''

The university threw him out last year and pressed prosecutors to put him on trial."
Egypt has arrested bloggers before but Nabil is the first to be convicted and sentenced to prison for his speech crimes. According to the Associated Press there is a reason that Nabil was singled out for prison time:
"Egypt arrested a number of bloggers last year, most of them for connections to Egypt's pro-democracy reform movement. Nabil was arrested in November, and while other bloggers were freed, Nabil was put on trial -- a sign of the sensitivity of his writings on religion."
Can the Egyptian government succeed in clamping down on political and religious dissent by jailing Egyptian bloggers and journalists who openly criticize the state and Islam?

The Egyptian government maybe able to limit the publication of dissent in Egypt but what about the the problem of what Starr calls the "extra-territoritial" media. For example, check out the link list of "Kareem in the Press" on the "Free Kareem!" site.

How is this situation similar to the attempts by European governments in the 18th century to control the press through the use of seditious libel laws? What about our own Sedition Act (1798)?

Human Rights Watch and other organizations are working to free Nabil and protest this crackdown on free speech.

Cheap Print and the Reading Revolution

Throughout the early nineteenth century the abundance of cheap print spread to all classes for the first time in history. (Starr 124) As "the explosion of print, reading became more varied, and readers scanned newspapers, magazines, and cheap books that they soon passed or discarded." For the first time ever it was not just the elite in society reading. The "penny press" and "dime novel" provided the middle and lower classes an opportunity to read unlike before. Even though, "a minority of the poor could read, most listened while a few read aloud; thus cheap print reached not so much a reading as a listening public." (Starr 124) Cheap print also helped form new markets. As time went on state governments began to disband old legislation and set new laws for citizens. All white men could now vote and with the elimination of property taxes citizens felt "endowed for the first time with full political rights, many workers had new reasons to pay attention to the news, and political parties had new reasons to pay attention to them." (Starr 130) Cheap print expanded the public sphere and created new markets in society "reading became a basis of mass persuasion for the first time in history." Finally, cheap print became a massive influence over all society and changed it forever.

Marcel Thomas
"In the 700 years between the Fall of Rome and the 12th century, it was the monasteries and other ecclesiastical establishments associated with them which enjoyed an almost complete monopoly of book production and so of book culture."
In my opinion he talks about how the church was the only source of information. If u couldn't read or afford a book you had to go to the church in order to retrieve information. And he also states that they enjoyed that certain power, how they created their own culture.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Democracy in Print

According to Paul Starr, The creation of the media, "If the American nation be judged by its literature, it may be pronounced to have no mind at all" (Harriet Martineau, the creation of the media pg. 113)

My opinion about this statement that Harriet Martineau wrote talks about how if the American nation was to be judged on its account of literature, she is saying America as a nation doesn't have its own mind. Another opinion about this statement is that America as a nation can stand on its own two feet. An opinion is this statement that she made is that she is saying that America as a nation can't think for itself.

American Revolution In Communications

The turn-key period for blacks sought the new initial stages of what we so often assert as freedom of the press. For many blacks, this proactive approach that the government took to revolutionize their rights was the beginning of a new era. On the other hand you had blacks located in the south that were denied these freedoms. The tool that played a key role was the United States postal service. The postal service was the way that many freed-black abolitionist took to the people on issues that they were plagued by. Because the south was a vital function in conveying information they sought to destroy any publication, literature, and all written documents that could liberate the blacks.


Starr wrote. "Shipping increased in frequency, speed, and dependability; postal communication was established on a more regular and reliable basis; the flow of consumer goods from England rose; and the column of information communicated in books and periodicals grew. These developments put the colonies in closer touch with London's metropolitan culture, allowing them to become, in some respects more English than they had before."

This Quote displays how much communication has benefited the world. People began to communicate more when shipping was established. Not just Americas to Americas but Americas to England. This communication has led to along line of increasing communicatinon around the world such as postal services. This benefited people because they also came in contact with more things such as food, clothes, and just communication in general.

Class Schedule 2/20-3/13

Revised Class Schedule

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

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

Th. 2/22 & Tu. 2/27
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.

Tuesday February 27: First written assignment due in class.

Th. 3/1 & Tu. 3/6
What Hath God Wrought? Westward Expansion & the Telegraph

Starr, chapter 5: “The First Wire.”
Starr, chapter 6: “New Connections: Telephone, Cable, and Wireless.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Bread and the Newspaper,” 1861.
Booker T. Washington, “The Grape-vine Telegraph,” 1901.
Eric Hobsbaum, “The World Unified,”
Daniel Czitrom, “‘Lightning Lines’ and the Birth of Modern Communication, 1838-1900.”

Th. 3/8 &Tu. 3/13
Photography & the Civil War

“Use of the Camera Obscura,” Glasgow Mechanics Magazine, 1824.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, “The Stereoscope and the Stereograph,” 1854.
Charles Baudelaire, “The Modern Public and Photography,” 1859.
“The Pernicious Picture Post Card,” Atlantic Monthly, 1906.

The Importance of Information

In the beginning of chapter three Starr says, "The institutions that Americans created in the first decades after Independence reflected a new understanding of the political imperatives for knowledge and communication." With the formation of a republican government the people of our country had to be well informed to make decisions and have the "means of understanding our government." (Starr 83) There was almost a trickle down effect starting with newspapers and ending with schooling.
The increasing of the penny press and other newspapers helped spread vast amounts of information to all the people. But that was not enough, the government intervened with the post office and decided to spread it through the nation helping spread news and information like never before. Certain stipulations on mail kept matters private and added to the importance of the new constitution and the morals it provided. As the idea of knowledge spread by the end of chapter three, attending a common school not only for children but adults even women provided the oppurtunity to read which had never happened before.(Starr 105) The most amazing fact about this transformation of knowledge and information was that none of this occured because of technological advancement. Newspapers, the post office, and schools "established the institutional principles for carrying out the Republican creed." (Starr 105)
After reading chapter three Starr gave me the feeling that the people of this country were ready to take the next step and govern to the best of their ability. The governments intervention helped and their realization that "knowledge of every kind" had to be circulated "through every part of the United States" in order to adapt the "principles, morals, manners of our citizens to the republican form of government."(Starr 88) That statement shows me that the government realized with out the spread of information to its citizens this country would not have lasted as a republic. The development of different forms of information was vital to this country and is still the basis for it to be governed by the citizens that inhabit it.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Chapter 2

"Shipping increased in frequency, speed, and dependability; postal communication
was established on a more regular and reliable basis; the flow of consumer goods
from England rose; and the column of information communicated in books and
periodicals grew. These developments put the colonies in closer touch with
London's metropolitan culture, allowing them to become, in some respects more
English than they had before." (Starr, pg. 47)

This quote from the text discusses in short the entire chapter of "New Foundations". With the rise of communication between the American colonies and England, the people who had come to the new land could start to develop their own systems and methods of communication in America. Modeling after their mother country wasn't such a bad idea because it was the early colonies in this country as well as the methods used in England to make The United States what it came to be today.

The Public Sphere

In chapter one of Paul Starr's Creation of the Mass Media, the author mostly talks about the Public Sphere. The definition of Public Sphere would be best described on page 24 in the text.
" The term 'public sphere' combines both senses when conceived as the sphere of
openly accessible information and communication about the matters of general
social concern." (Starr, Pg. 24)
The public sphere consisted of literate people, mostly elites involved with the government or the church. Without the invention of the printing press the public sphere would have not been possible. The printing press made the distribution of books and information more wide spread.
Along with the printing press came the development of the postal service and roads. The system enabled the exchange of information possible, for example, between two people living at a distance. The exchange of ideas and local news between two different areas was a major advance to the public sphere.

Chapter 3 - Privacy & Public Knowledge

The section of chapter three, which speaks about how documents, as well as personal items were free for inspection. Letters in the post office, were always able to be "opened freely on suspicion, or in search of designated letters, or on informal order from Under Secretaries of State" (Starr, page 95). Even during the time the Fourth Amendment was instated, this still continued to occur. I find this interesting, because the idea of privacy didn't begin to take effect until the Post Office was in charge of Franklin and Hunter, in 1753. Franklin and Hunter had mail carriers take oaths not to open the mail they were carrying, as well as the postmasters. Eventually in due time, it was stated by the Supreme Court in 1877, that letters going through the Post Office were part of the Fourth Amendment.

This little section just shows how freedom of speech, goes hand in hand with the Fourth Amendment, but it also shows how it took awhile for the amendment to take affect, and actually be followed completely.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." (The Constitution of the United States.)

Women and the Information Revolution

While reading chapter three entitled "America's First Information Revolution", I came across a theory that gravitated an immense amount of interest. Paul Starr enlightened me with knowledge of declining illiteracy rates for women during the 18th and 19th century. This was the period during the revolution which one can say was a liberation for women, fulfilling both their duties in society, which is passing down knowledge to their children, and their ability to become very indepedent by obtaining certain knowledge. This is emphasized on page 102 where Starr states "This transformation had a double effect because nit increased not only the communicative competence of women but also their ability to educate their children" (The Creation of the Media, p. 102). Within this section of the chapter, I would love to discuss the latter, which is women eventually becoming independent because of this revolutional phenomenon. Before, men believed that it was a bad idea for women to learn and read about what their brain couldn't handle, such as politics and religion; their role in society was to strictly conform to domesticity. However, women of the 18th, 19th and even the 20th century wanted to challenge these logics. Hence, as they obtained knowledge, they were able to think and act in different ways. These qualities may include the ability to think or reason, freedom of choice, realizing self-determination and becoming more socially equipped within the society. Ultimately, these qualities stand for independence, a very influential factor brought by the revolution.

The Post Office

According to Paul Starr, The creation of the media "The post office was a primary center of the government's intelligence operations, with its own espionage agents and deciphering branch." (The creation of the media pg. 95)

My opinion about this statement is that the post office is where the government conduct its business. The government uses the post office to monitor mails that are sent out to people. They use the post office to stop any mails that has to do with terrorist plots. During this period the government used the post office to put a stop to any pamphlet that had to do with slavery.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Chapter 3 "America's First Informational Revolution"

This is a picture of what the 18th century plague
looked like under magnification,
the plague was spread by fleas!!!

"In the United States the subsidies to newspapers adopted in 1792 were critical to the emergence of the first national news network. Under the Articles of Confederation in 1785, the Post Master General had insisted that the Post Office had no obligation to carry newspapers, and after adoption of the Constitution it was unclear what policy the new government would take. In the debate leading up to the 1792 legislation, some congressmen suggessted that the Post Office carry some papers it could manipulate the press and public opinion and this view in favor of unrestricted distribution prevailed" (Starr 89)
These ideas that are being generated about Post Offices carrying different newspapers demonstrates the begining of public networking through the press and media. The Post Office was monumental in expediting this distribution of newspapers to the citizens. This was so important because this began a informational revolution because now important news could travel. Businessmen needed news fast and required information about other regions inorder to fufill his job requirments. In case a business man needed to travel somewhere he needed to know if it was safe to enter a new region, in case of plague or disease.