Saturday, March 03, 2007

Tastes change due to the penny press

"In effect, the lure of the popular market broke down the traditional hierarchy of taste that had been expressed in the physical form of the book," Starr, (p. 137), chapter 4 (The Creation of the Media).

Book prices were kept low due to the competition between the cheaper formats. During the 1850's the price of cloth books were $.50 with smaller volumes costing half of that. Literature was being published in a variety of editions for different type of readers. In the past, high culture was linked to an elite section of the public who could afford expensively produced books. Because of the increasing diversity in readership and affordability, the general public was becoming more of the reading public. Culture and taste were progressing from the elite to the common.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Telegraph, a little too late

With the invention of the telegraph, news and information was now able to travel faster and more efficiently then ever before. But at the same time the telegraph was invented and being used, other forms of transportation were improving as well. These improving forms of information transport such as steam power for boats and trains now allowed information to travel faster then before, with improvements each day. The telegraph was very revolutionary and like “Lightning” but it came with high costs and decisions to be made about where to lay the wire and how to lay so much wire from one continent to another.

But many obstacles stood in the way of stretching the new iron cords across continents” (Starr p.153)
This obstacle along with who would invest the money needed to do this was a decision to be made as well. As a new technology at the time, investors were wary as to how good or important the telegraph would become. These issues, along with improvement in shipping and the post office, probably lead to the telegraph having less of a impact then it should have had at that time.

Penny Papers Progress

"The penny papers are often described as America's first popular, commercial newspapers, independent of political parties and truly devoted to "news" in the modern sense ...The penny papers advanced ...trends in new ways because they produced and packaged news of more diverse kinds to appeal to a larger urban audience." (Starr, 134)

Penny papers were largely non-partisan papers in a time when partisan papers were popular and increasing in production, an 1850 U.S. Census showed that 80 percent of newspapers were partisan papers. Though penny papers could rarely escape the grasp of partisanship even though they made declarations of independence from partisan papers.

The papers, in their journey to make it to circulation eventually formulated the basic outline as to what we consider media format today. They provided costumers to their advertisers almost as much as they sold readers the papers. Penny papers were the first to print a wide range of coverage for local news and to turn news into a form as entertainment.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Penny Papers -- popular culture--sensationalism!

P. 134, (The Creation of the Media), Starr's comment on the penny papers:

"The penny papers were an editorial and entrepreneurial innovation of singular importance. In their quest for circulation, they became the first papers in the United States to publish extensive coverage of local news and to turn news itself into entertainment".

Starr goes on to state, P. 136: "According to David S. Reynolds, saw a shift in the literature of moral reform". The conventional literature which emphasized "hopeful themes of characters" began to grow in the direction of "dark forces of the human psyche".

The penny press spoke to the tastes of the common man. Everyone, who is honest enough to admit it, enjoys a sensational news story. With an eye to increasing their readership and circulation, I think the early editors were very smart to include these kinds of stories in their papers. I wonder if the New York Post could be compared to the penny press in terms of format?


"The telegraph arrived in a world already revolutionized, and its developement continued a process that other forms forces had set in motion. Even in the deminision that the telegraph most directly affected-the speed of communication over long distanced- the advances in postal service and transportation during the preceding decades had already resulted in considerable changes." Starr pg 154-155

This passage from Starr chapter 5 caught by eye because it is a very true statement. The telegraph it self was all ready predetermined in a way because of previous inventions. This plays a part and has to do with the constitutives choices already done by the postal service and transportation. In a way those hurt the upcoming telegraph and it doesn't get as much credit being that these things already being done gave it a head start. Early technological and social advances cautioned against changes in new advances. Not saying that it is a bad thing or the introduction of the telegraph wasn't important, it just wasn't able to recieve the telegraph at it's full potential.

RE: Democracy and Technological Advances in Print?

" Larger circulation and new technology transformed newspapers as enterprise. Bennet was able to found the Herald in 1835 with only $500 and at first served as the entire editorial and business staff, running the newspaper out of a basement office. By 1840 the start up cost for a daily in New York City ranged between 5,000 and 10,000 and by 1850 amounted to as much as 100,000"

The reason I used this qoute was to show how the technological advances that effected the enlightment, was sparked off with the cheap print. once more people were able to print large masses for a lower price, papers began to pop up all over the place, and before time it was its own stable business, causing the economy to rise, and the value to increase.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Democracy and Technological Advances in Print?

Paul Starr explained the influence of democracy of print in chapter four as he described the technological success during the print era; "The continuing expansion of print created an incentive for technological innovation" (pg. 125). Because ideas needed to be distributed, technological innovation secured a fast and speedy diffusion of ideas. The Age of Enlightenment introduced this idea of the knowledge and information served at a high circulation and endorsed freedom of speech. Government intervention often limited this freedom as they enacted laws such as the Stamp Act and special taxes on documents. Starr produces an interesting theory in this section of the chapter, creating an argument of the interruption of the freedom of speech.

America On it's Own

"America's high literacy rate and it's rapidly growing
population, fed by new waves of immigration, led to markets for print that were
not just larger than those in European countries but also increasingly diverse.
Thanks to the extent ion of schooling, the raising public even in the first half
of the nineteenth century included growing numbers of women, young readers,
working class as well as middle class adults and new immigrants as well as some
free blacks. " (Starr, Pg. 114)

I Chose this particular quote from the text because Starr discusses here how America as a new country differs from Europe. I feel while reading this part in the chapter you can get an idea or feel for how the new land basically modeled after it's mother country is starting to develop into it's own figure. Developing it's own government, it's own postal system, education system, all in relevance were made possible by the power of the printing press.

Privacy of Public Knowledge

"The Post office was a primary center of the governments intelligence
operations, with it's own espionage agents and deciphering branch. It's
offices' monitored foreign diplomats, domestic dissenters, and even
own ministers, keeping the king and the governments inner
circle apprised of
intrigues and disaffection" (Starr, Pg. 95)

Britain's postal service was known to open and view mail that was being sent from person to person. When people moved across the Atlantic Ocean to a new land they didn't know what to expect. When America set up their own postal system they had decided not to read the mail, but they would read it is the letter never reached it's destination. Even though the roots of America come from Britain, the early postal system is an example of how our country developed on it's own.

Monday, February 26, 2007

A Path for the Telegraph

According to Paul Starr, The Creation of the Media "The use of an instrument so powerful for good or evil cannot with safety to the people be left in the hands of private individuals uncontrolled by law" (Postmaster General Cave Johnson pg. 163)

My opinion about the quote from the postmaster general is that we can't allow any instruments to be controlled by the wealthy class. He is also talking about how there isn't any law that restricts the control of instruments by private individuals. What this quote means is that there should be laws that protects inventions from private individuals. He is also saying that any invention should be shared with everyone and it shouldn't be only for private individuals.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Another Pirate Movie?

Software Exploited by Pirates Goes to Work for Hollywood - New York Times

The New York Times reports that Hollywood is trying to solve the problem of peer to peer piracy through an alliance with BitTorrent, a software package that is popular with people who have no interest in paying for movies online. The Times quotes a Hollywood exec as saying:
"Somebody once said you have to embrace your enemy,” said Doug Lee,
executive vice president of MGM’s new-media division. “We like the idea that
they have millions of users worldwide. That is potentially fertile, legitimate
ground for us.”
Are peer-to-peer networks a threat to copyright protection and intellectual property or are they just another medium for publicity and marketing, a way to reach the market? Buyers will rent movies for a nominal cost, Window Media Player piracy protections will be used to prevent users from keeping or resending the rented films.

This is a good example of how a threat to intellectual property rights can be turned into another medium of distribution. The question of whether this new arrangement will stop people from downloading movies for free even when they become available at much cheaper prices is far from settled.


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