A.P. Civics Notes: Chapter 10
Journalism in American Political History
In America the media has much greater freedom than in other countries, such as France and
Great Britain, because in the U.S., media companies are privately controlled, and they only
need licenses from the gov’t—nothing else.
In England, politicians can sue those who make fun of them, while in France,
broadcasting is governed by a national agency that can control what and what not to
show the public.
The media can provide exposure for a political candidate, but it can also ruin a politician’s
career by showing negative views of him or her.
Basically, there are four general periods in American journalistic history, each with its own major
change during the time:
In the early years of the Republic, newspapers were expensive to print and usually read
by the political elite, and the lack of transportation made each paper’s circulation small;
as a result, the earliest newspapers tended to be very partisan and support political
There was not necessarily objective news reporting.
Gazette of the United States
, financing its editor with
Advances in technology and transportation made newspapers cheaper to buy and more
widely available, and the invention of the
meant that news could be flashed
almost instantaneously from cities across the country!
The partisanship became one that was based on the editors’ points of view, not
on the influences of the political parties, and many journalists resorted to
sensationalism, or the filling of stories with violence, romance, patriotism, and
exposés, to popularize their papers.
As a result, the real stories were often embellished to make readers interested,
and many stories were just flat out made up!
Strong-willed publishers like
William Randolph Hearst
became powerful political forces, using their influence to shape political actions
(i.e. Spanish-American War) and enrich themselves.