Rhetoric and Writing in the Public Sphere: An Introduction/The Role of Print Journalism in the Evolution of the Public Sphere
Tebbel and Zuckerman Reading: The Magazine in America
Like any other product, the printed word has been subject to the supply-and-demand of the public. First came books, next came newspapers, and last came magazines. Like the English, the American public reserved magazine reading as a mostly a pastime of the upper class.
Credit for the creation of the first magazine is often given to Benjamin Franklin, who titled his periodical The General Magazine. However, three days before Franklin pulled his off the printing press, his rival Andrew Bradford came out with his own magazine entitled American Magazine.
The early magazine printers set the tone for future endeavors in magazine publishing. However, at the time there was little need a barely an audience for this new medium.
The early entrepreneurs of the magazine industry had no intention of creating an entirely new American product. They merely set out to copy popular British magazines. Then, with a rising feeling of patriotism in America came an urge to prove to the British that the colonists were not uncivilized barbarians. However, many early attempts failed due to a lack of funds. Bradford’s first magazine folded in three months and Franklin’s went under in six.
On the eve of the Revolution, a magazine emerged that better represented America. Royal American was produced by the master publisher Isaiah Thomas, who was already famous in the newspaper and book industries. Thomas’s magazine was the first periodical to use illustrations freely.
Tebbel and Zuckerman considered the best periodical of the Revolutionary age to be H.E. Brackenridge’s United States Magazine. Brackenridge was an accomplished writer and contributed a lot of the magazine’s material, which was distinctively American in character.
Between 1741 and 1794, there were never more than three magazines in the country at a time. Despite the small amount of publications, publishers were already finding more specialized audiences within the American public. These early magazines typically covered topics such as manners, fashion, social life, religion, morals, and politics.
However, the earliest magazines never included long fiction. Instead, the periodicals featured “character sketches” or “fragments”, which later evolved into the short story we know today. They sought to reinforce the patriarchal moral values of American society. The most popular subject of the time was women, which men explored from every angle. Other, more controversial topics were covered also, such as education and slavery.
In terms of content, the line between magazines and newspapers was still blurred well into the late eighteenth century. However, from the beginning magazines held up the mirror to national life.
Between 1800 and 1825, there was a huge surge in the number of American magazines. This was due to the invention of the cylinder press (a technological breakthrough in printing) as well as the growth of a more literate American public. Although specialized audiences also grew, the biggest rise was in general magazines. During this rise of the general magazines, political issues began to get more attention than literature. One of the most notable magazines was Joseph Dennie’s weekly magazine, Port Folio. The magazine’s success was mostly due to the popularity and charisma of its publisher, Joseph Dennie.
However, an obstacle to the growth of the magazine industry was its struggle with postal regulations. Thanks to the Post Office Act of 1794, postmasters general were given the power to accept or refuse any magazine without having to give a reason. Most of them disliked magazines because they felt the periodicals crowded their mail sacks. However, overtime postmasters became more accepting of magazines. By 1825, the number of magazines in circulation in America grew from a dozen to nearly a hundred. One magazine that stood out was the Saturday Evening Post, which evolved from Benjamin Franklin’s newspaper Pennsylvania Gazette. The appearance of fiction in magazines was still rare. Also rare was writers receiving payment for their work. In 1824, the Monthly became the first magazine to promise payment to contributing writers. Editors typically made more money than writers, but their payment was dependent on how much money the magazine was making at the time.
After 1825, the magazine industry began to change rapidly in an age of upheaval around the world. This period was termed as the “Golden Age of Magazines”. It was an age where magazines were truly realizing their potential as a medium. Between 1825 and 1850, there was an explosion of the number of magazines being published in America. The number of magazines grew from roughly one hundred to about six hundred. However, there were thousands of starter magazines during this period, those periodicals with an average life of two years. While weeklies fell to the background, general monthly magazines took center stage during this time. These magazines were created by different kinds of entrepreneurs, such as George R. Graham. His Graham’s Magazine grew steadily and eventually became a sort of roll call of the best American writers and poets. Graham became the first publisher to pay his writers well. He understood that there would never be a short supply of great writers if you paid them well for their contributions. The two magazines of this time period with the greatest longevity were the North American Review and the Youth’s Companion, which sought to entertain as well as instruct children. A major ingredient of the magazine’s success was its ability to appeal not only to children, but to the whole family. During this time magazines also began using an increasing amount of illustrations, employing the method in which the pictures are engraved on copper and steel.
By the 1850s, the magazine industry had acquired many of the features that still characterize it today. American magazines were giving readers a glimpse of national life during the 1850s.
The Saturday Evening Post, published by the infamous George Horace Lorimer, was one of the most popular periodicals of its time.
The magazine’s trademark was undoubtedly its covers, which were illustrated by Norman Rockwell. The covers were upbeat, everyday scenes that the American public could easily identify with. However, in the 1930s, Rockwell’s work became more complex. He no longer simply painted figures against a white field but began to use the whole canvas. Throughout this time, Rockwell’s covers stood out more and more from other magazines. Rockwell was considered the master of idealization and was able to hit the pulse of the American public time and time again. His technique was especially reflected through one of his characters, Willie Gillis, who embodied the everyman in uniform. However, Rockwell’s covers reflected the changing times rather than the actual content of the Post. Even so, Rockwell was able to achieve what no other magazine cover artist could.
Characteristics of the Post like the Rockwell covers reflected the true genius of George Horace Lorimer. Even if he didn’t personally believe in the content he was printing (such as feminist issues), he understood that he needed to roll with the times. For example, the magazine was the first publication to print a picture of a woman smoking a cigarette. Lorimer would simply ask himself if his audience would like it when he was considering accepting material for each issue of the Post. Although the magazine was typically aimed at middle-class interests, the publisher understood that he had to include the entire spectrum of the American public. Lorimer’s instinct was nearly foolproof. He had a knack for knowing what his audience would consider acceptable and unacceptable.
There were few articles in the Post that had any other purpose than to entertain. However, the magazine also sought to teach the public through biographies. The magazine’s articles were divided into political and nonpolitical, although the political pieces were typically the most effective. The publication even featured articles by presidents. Many of the Post’s articles resembled fiction. They were faithful representations of what the average American public were thinking and talking about. As with other businesses, the major factor in creating change in the magazine industry was the shift in the national mood from the expansiveness and optimism of the 1920s to the traditionalism and conservatism of the 1930s.
Lorimer’s method with the Post was to transform old formulas employed in the publication time and time again. Dewitt Wallace took a different approach when he created Reader’s Digest, which is considered another revolutionary magazine of the time. Wallace’s major ingredient for success was to make an art out of standard publishing practice of shortening copy. He would preserve the main point of the article but trim off any commercial ornamentation. However, Wallace still demanded that all of the articles met three criteria; applicability, lasting interest, and constructiveness. Another element of the magazine’s success was that Wallace condensed articles from other popular publications and offered them at a bargain price. However, along the way, Reader’s Digest began developing its own articles. By mid 1969, approximately 65 percent of the periodical was original work. Despite these fundamental changes, the circulation of Wallace’s magazine grew and grew.
Another popular magazine of the time was David Smart’s Esquire. However, this periodical was quite different from its predecessors. It offered an array of risqué cartoons and more intellectual articles of fiction and nonfiction. Later, Esquire Inc. developed another new magazine known as Ken. It was overly liberal and soon became the magazine that everybody loved to hate. While Esquire celebrated the good life, Ken sought to fight against the fascists of the world. However, despite the publisher’s best efforts, Ken soon faded into oblivion like so many other magazines.
With the exception of Esquire and Ken, most magazine of this time used basically the same formula, with the Saturday Evening Post as their template. In the course of one issue each magazine sought to provide information, entertainment, escape, opinions, a reinforcement of moral values, and a growing consumer’s showcase through advertising.
Then came the birth of the family magazine. Today, looking back at these periodicals gives an accurate social history of the times. Family magazines were able to establish a solid rapport with their audiences that was difficult for other publications to match. The leader of the family magazines was E.T. Meredith’s Better Homes and Gardens. Meredith wanted to appeal to both men and women of average incomes who could benefit from suggestions on how to improve their homes. Meredith’s publication was one of the few magazines of the time that didn’t include fiction, fashion, or sex. And yet it still thrives today. Unfortunately, Meredith died shortly before the Great Depression and the magazine was in the hands of a new editor, Elmer T. Peterson. He steered the magazine towards providing readers with information they could apply during hard times. Amazingly, Better Homes and Gardens survived the Great Depression in fairly good shape and entered the postwar period in better condition than most magazines.
The entrepreneur Bernarr Macfadden then introduced a completely different area of the mass market. His publications grew from his idea to make magazines out of the two biggest mass-market ingredients, physical culture and sex. Macfadden created the confession magazine and greatly improved the crime magazine by transforming it into the true-detective periodical. At their peak in 1935, Macfadden’s magazines had a combined circulation of more than 7 million people, which was more than any other publisher at the time.
Another addition to the magazine industry was the pulp Western. It was a twentieth-century expression of the American public’s great love affair with the Great West. The pulp Western could be divided into two broad categories, the super-hero magazine and the love-story Western. The golden age of Western pulp fiction was between the mid-1920s and the mid-1940s, but this era came to an end by the early 1950s. The pulp Western was unique than other categories of magazines developed for the mass market. It established a closer relationship to its readers than any other type except for women’s magazines.
Chapter 25: The Established Leaders of the New York Press
In this chapter, Motts chronicles the growth of New York City’s earliest newspaper press successes. By the end of the nineteenth-century, there were more than 10,000 newspapers in the U.S. The American newspaper press was booming.
One of the biggest changes of the time was journalism’s emergence from the domination of political parties. This change brought objectivity to reporters and took responsibility from politicians. The nation’s widespread relaxation of party bonds also contributed to the newspaper industry’s newfound independence. This meant that reporters now had the freedom to criticize political leaders and their policies within their own political party. Freedom of the press had truly taken effect. The newspapers that exercised this new freedom typically found more success. Many newspaper editors believed that readers disliked being manipulated into one political party or the other. However, a majority of the newspapers were still under party discipline. But when newspapers did exercise this freedom, the race to cover political crusades against municipal misgovernment usually replaced the old partisan activities.
After his father’s death, James Gordon Bennett, Jr. took over the New York Herald. Under Bennett’s management, the newspaper found initial success with his many expeditions to make news if he wasn’t able to find it. The most famous of the publisher’s travels was the expedition of Henry M. Stanley to the heart of Africa to find the missionary and explorer David Livingstone. However, Bennett’s only real contribution to the industry was this idea of wealthy newspapers sponsoring large-scale expeditions.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the New York Herald and the New York Sun were in a close race in terms of circulation. However, it was during this time that the Sun’s (which was also considered an independent newspaper) popularity peaked, and it was unable to sustain this momentum. Greeley’s New York Tribune also hit hard times in the late 1800s when its circulation dropped by almost half. However, the city’s Evening Post remained one of the most distinguished newspapers throughout the period.
The New York Times and its editor George Jones also fought a rapid decline in circulation and popularity in the late 1800s. Unfortunately, when Joseph Pulitzer bought the World and began transforming New York journalism, he left out the Times because it was nearly free from sensationalism. However, eventually later editors of the Times were able recover and prove the resiliency of the newspaper industry.
Infamous Scribblers (a summary of Eric Burns piece)
Though the early years of American journalism created great documents, these formative years led to a great deal of muckraking gossip columns as well. Some may argue that although controversial, it was this type of reporting that made this period an important time in shaping American journalism.
Many of the colonists that traveled to America were well-educated and seeking independence. They set up school systems, such as Dame Schools taught by single widows in the neighborhood to guarantee their children the ability to read and write. This education prepared them for advanced work in the major universities such as Harvard, William & Mary, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and Rutgers. The upper class of this time period, both men and women appreciated music, art, dancing and literature. However, the portrait they painted of themselves was far more glamorous in comparison to their behavior. Early Americans were well-kept, well-informed, and well-mannered. This was true for the majority of upper-class citizens, but the lower-class citizens gambled, drank, fought and were disorderly. It was the rich aristocracy who had the financial ability to afford printing presses and publish the “news”. This influenced the reporting of this time period a great deal. “There was no tradition at the time of an impartial press, either in the colonies or in Europe. In fact, insofar as there was a tradition in journalism at all, it favored bias; newspapers were printed either to indulge the whims of the owner or to serve the political causes with which he had aligned himself.” As a result of this, there was less of a feeling by the publisher to provide a civic duty.
Another reason for the harshness found in the print of the time period was likely due to the underlying intensity between Americans and Europeans. Although usually bound by the status quo, print was a place to release feelings about the events taking place. One quote that summarizes the journalistic style of this time period most fittingly is that if a group of colonists read the newspapers of today “they would be startled by, and perhaps not altogether approving of, the extent to which we have tamed the wildly inglorious impulses of their journalism.”
John Campbell- “Boston’s sour-faced Scottish postmaster”
Campbell’s job in a post office allowed him to listen to customers as they sent out letters. He encouraged them to stay and talk more, asking questions as they went along. He started taking notes and turned those into a newsletter. By 1704, four years after beginning his newsletter, Campbell found that he needed more space for all of the information he was acquiring. Campbell found himself a printing press started the “Boston News-Letter”. This newsletter was described as “sluggish but trustworthy”. However, the “Boston News-Letter” was invaluable for its reporting of events such as the Molasses Act, the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts, the Intolerable Acts, the Boston Massacre, and the Boston Tea Party.
Since journalism of this type was still a novelty, the newsletter at its peak reached three hundred subscriptions. However, advertisers realized that although there were only three hundred subscribers, many people were reading the publication and realized that this new form of media was an outlet for advertising. Advertisements would include the purchase of slaves, searching for missing slaves, as well as other issues of concern.
Paper in the early American journalism era was pricey and difficult to obtain. The paper was made out of linen rags that were donated by the women readers. Furthermore, it was difficult to find ink, especially large quantities, as needed for newspapers. The ink smelled awful and was very thick. The last obstacle a printer had to overcome was finding type. Whether it be having enough money to buy a new type set with larger letters or replacing the worn out letters, this was a hassle. A final problem was finding news to put in the paper. There were no reporters to assist Campbell and as a result sometimes news was difficult to obtain, or was reported much later.
Parting from problems in production, the printers had a problem with their audience. Although many were interested in the paper, few people could speak English and few could afford to purchase a newspaper. Distribution was difficult due to the poor infrastructure system available at the time. However, by the mid-1600s, a mail delivery service had become prevalent and this assisted in the distribution of newspapers. The Boston Post Road opened and it similar to a UPS service. It delivered parcels and letters.
Harris started the newspaper “Publick Occurrences both Foreign and Domestic”. The paper began in Boston. Due to Boston’s growing population, as well as urban setting, it was the ideal place to create a paper. Harris became the first publisher in North America. Due to the papers efficient use of paper, there was no wasted space; it would “be the style of virtually all American journals during the colonial era.”
In this paper the first two or three pages contained the news articles and the last page was blank so readers could make their own assumptions and comments before passing it along to another reader. The style was very concise and condensed, getting the most information as possible into each paper. Harris was not looked favorably upon in the public eye, being called a racist and crude. He failed to get the proper license for his paper and its circulation was shutdown.
This was the fourth newspaper in Boston, as well as the fourth in America. It was published by James Franklin, the cousin of Benjamin Franklin. This paper was the first to employ reporters on its staff. Because the paper could not pay a staff, these reporters were volunteers. Franklin was the first “crusading journalist”. He crusaded against inoculation; for fear that it would spread small pox instead of curing it. Later, ironically, James nephew would die of small pox from lack of inoculation. James Franklin criticized the government as well. These actions eventually led James to be placed in jail. After being placed in jail, James eventually handed his publication over to his apprentice and younger brother, Benjamin Franklin.
Fenno attended Holbrook’s Writing School in Boston and became a publisher who devoted himself to federalism, particularly the ideas of Alexander Hamilton. Little is known about Fenno and he was once referred to as the “historical John Doe.” He started the “Gazette of the United States”. This paper was the first federal journal that had influence in the United States. His motto was “He that is not for us, is against us” and that became the same motto as the Gazette. Alexander Hamilton was the primary contributor to this paper, giving it articles, thoughts, and sometimes funds.
Thomas Jefferson & Philip Freneau
Upset at what was being printed in the papers, Jefferson decided to create a paper of his own for republicans called the “National Gazette”. Philip Freneau, a recognized writer and poet became the editor of the “National Gazette” after receiving a great deal of pressure from both Jefferson and James Madison. James Madison thought high of Freneau’s work and intellect. Madison often contributed to this paper as we
Joseph Pulitzer’s Influence on New Journalism
“There is room in this great and growing city for a journal that is not only cheap but bright, not only bright but large, not only large but truly democratic.” – Joseph Pulitzer
Born wealthy and with education from the best private schools, Joseph Pulitzer’s future looked bright from the start. He joined the American army have many traumatic events took place in his life. The death of his father and the crumbling of his immediate family shortly after left Pulitzer wanting to leave and find his own path in life. When he moved to St. Louis later in his life, he had a very dramatic welcome with rain and sleet falling on his head.
St. Louis helped Pulitzer find more direction in his career and he ended up working with German youth. After finding more friends and networking, Pulitzer was hired in his first reporter job in the Mid-West. He was unpolished and naïve but stuck with the journalism trade. His youthful nickname, Joey, did not do his journalistic abilities justice and many of his peers were instructed by editors to be like him.
After he rose in the journalism industry he was elected as a state legislature. This hate suited him well and he dove into it in St. Louis. He started looking over the local newspaper situation. After settling in his career, he married and sought after other opportunities in the trade.
Pulitzer took over much of the newspaper world. He acquired a list of newspapers that he bought after his many successes and he improved on them. The St. Louis Dispatch was one of his most demanding purchases. It became very profitable however in 1882 a libel controversy ended in tragedy as the conflict ended in death in the Dispatch offices. Pulitzer also had The Union, The Post, and New York World under his belt of purchased papers. He thrived on hard-work and accepted nothing less from each publication.
Colonel Cokerill, the new publisher assigned to New York World, got new staff and taught them new ways of journalism. This and many other reasons are what gave him the nickname of the “Father of New Journalism”. He wanted no more “gossip” and more “human-interest”. Other changes were adopted in a neater typography and smaller headlines. At this time the use of “ears” began at the end of nameplates.
From all of this journalistic development came a sixfold program for New Journalism. This program was implemented in the New York World.
- A modern news policy formed that focused on finding stories that are legitimate and would interest the public. The use of cable was increased and all types (serious and novelty stories) began to be reported more.
- Crusades and stunts were largely important to this program. Setting up news stories and making a big deal of things that would not be without media attention was this steps main focus.
- The editorial page had to have high character. Pulitzer considered this the “heart of the paper and the chief reason for its existence.”
- Adding more pages and more stories for less money was of high importance to this program. With more pages came more opportunity for audience interest and this would cause the audience to grow.
- Illustration in newspapers was lead by the “World”. The more illustration in a paper, the more it sold.
- Promotions were implemented by coupons and voting contest. This added customer involvement and brought in money.
After contributing so much to the newspaper and governmental society, Pulitzer had a breakdown and never fully recovered. He over-worked himself. He still followed progress in the World and tried hard to emphasize the importance of accuracy. Unfortunately, sensationalism had already begun to rise and take over. Sensationalism can be defined as the detailed newspaper treatment of crimes, disasters, sex scandals, and monstrosities.
The use of stunts brought media attention and news stories became commodities. This is still happening. The coverage of sports also rose as entertainment news rose in popularity. With the rise in entertainment news, gossip and sensationalized celebrities became news commodities and are still under constant scrutiny.
First Newspapers in “The New England”
When newspapers began emerging in the “New England”, as the United States was referred to when colonists originally came over, many things guided the style of these new publications. First, newspapers were patterned like the newspapers of England, because the newspapers from England were still being sent over to the new settlers by relatives still living in England. A second factor pushing the concept of a newspaper in the New World was the colonist’s immediate fascination with the other colonists scattered along the east coast.
Despite the desire for newspapers, it was difficult to begin a successful paper at the beginning of colonial time. There were many other things the colonists need to focus their efforts on, “they had few luxuries and, since the frontier is by its very nature always undersupplied with labor, they had no leisure for the cultivation of aesthetic and purely intellectual values.” However, eventually newspaper publications began in the colonies.
In 1638, Harvard received the first printing press that the colonies had seen. Although the printing press was a new advantage, the government was weary of the press, because the government was aware of the power of the press to reach the masses. At this time period, free speech as well as freedom of the press had not been established as a luxury in the colonies.
In time news developed. At first news was disseminated through letters written to merchants or correspondence between friends. Meeting places such as courts and taverns were often locations where news was exchanged as well.
The first American newspaper was “Publick Occurrences”, published by Benjamin Harris. “Publick Occurrences” was three pages, with a blank fourth page attached for readers to add their thoughts before they passed the paper on to the next reader. Topics included the King of France as well as the French and Indian War. Unfortunately, the government stopped the publishing of “Publick Occurrences” after only one issue. The government claimed the paper had been published “without the least privity or countenance of authority.”
Fourteen years following Harris, Campbell created his newspaper, the “Boston News-Letter”. Campbell was the head of post and heard a great deal of the news that was occurring and took notes on the events. These notes eventually led to the creation of the “Boston News-Letter”. Although Campbell was criticized for being dull, his publication offered a great deal of news. Campbell had many correspondents telling him of news, but sometimes it took a great deal of time for the news to be published. However, Campbell felt that it did not matter when news was reported “so long as important events were recorded in due time.” Newspapers became a luxury during this time period. One report claims that men would present ladies they were courting with copies of the newspaper as a gift, rather than things such as candy. The newspaper perished at the beginning of the American Revolution, but had an impressive run of seventy-two years.
The “Boston Gazette” was created by William Brooker. The “Boston Gazette” was similar to the “News-Letter”, but the printing and the quality of writing had greatly improved. The publication became one of the most famous papers of the American Revolution.
The “New-England Courant” was started by James Franklin. The paper lasted five in and half years, but is considered “one of the most brilliant and interesting of the eighteenth century American newspapers.” The Courant was more for entertainment and did not claim to be published by an Authority like the other papers of this time period. The Courant garnered fame after publishing a great deal of opposition about the small pox vaccination. The paper was used to campaign against the idea of inoculation and as a result “won the attention of the town, gave a one-sided story, and built circulation, and it made the paper bitter enemies.” James Franklin’s younger brother Benjamin was his apprentice. Benjamin set type for the paper as well as anonymously contributed a set of essays known as the “Dogwood Papers”. Unfortunately, when James Franklin targeted the governor in his paper, the governor did not find this amusing and James was placed in jail. Although released, the Courant became tamer than before and eventually was discontinued.
There were a few other newspapers worth mentioning in Boston during this time period. Samuel Kneeland’s “New-England Weekly Journal” was considered the successor of the “New-England Courant”. Although the newspaper printed a great deal of news, much of the paper focused on entertainment. Many considered this paper equal or superior to any newspapers seen in the colonies by that time period. Eventually the Journal bought out the Gazette and formed one large paper.
The “Evening-Post” was another newspaper during this time period. It was created by a young lawyer named Jeremy Gridley. Gridley quickly passed the paper over to a printer named Thomas Fleet who eventually made the “Evening-Post” the best and most popular newspaper in Boston.
Newspapers more so started devoting themselves to coverage of the news after the 1835 advent of the New York Herald. Before that, they were propaganda organs to political parties on which they were dependent. Magazines became forums for public opinion because they offered more variety and provided more of an intellectual sounding board than newspapers. However, it was hard to draw a line between the two.
Reforms, such as slavery became a preoccupation of magazine editors. Anti-slavery magazines were religious and sentimental, as well as humanitarian. The problem with these magazines was that they were single-issue periodicals, so they were overshadowed by more popular publications.
Although much of the magazine business shunned politics in their magazines, there was a rapid increase in publication of political papers and periodical magazines between 1850 and 1860. It went from 1,630 publications in existence in 1850, to 3,242 in 1860. Major general magazines, such as Harper’s and Graham’s, remained afloat without the presence of politics in their publications through the tumultuousness and violence of the 1850’s. Upon war, however, these magazines all became embroiled in politics in one way or another.
Magazines became a place to debate serious issues or partisan salvos. They discussed a broad variety of topics from slavery to views on controversial national issues to presidential debate. The slavery debate helped to narrow the difference between newspaper and magazines. Both had partisan views, but newspapers worried less about the consequences of publishing them. The pace of the abolitionist movement picked up with the publication of anti-slavery magazines. The Panic of 1857, however, interrupted this because economic problems implied a resulting war.
In 1855, U.S. picture periodicals began with Frank Leslie and his Leslie’s Weekly. They contained large pictures and short stories covering news, music, art and book reviews. Leslie’s Weekly found competition in 1957 with the publication of Harper’s Weekly, and as a result dropped the price of each issue to six cents, or two dollars for a year. This upped Leslie’s circulation, making him unstoppable. From this, Frank Leslie established a publishing empire with the publication of Frank Leslie’s New Family Magazine in 1857, Frank Leslie’s Budget of Fun, and even more after the war. He was on a crusade to fight injustice even though most of his stories were sensationalized.
Harper’s New Monthly, published in June of 1850, contained 144 pages, costing twenty five cents an issue, or three dollars a year. This magazine was intended for the educated and upper class who were politically minded. It became a forum for the governing class, and upon becoming the leading national monthly, was described as “a mirror of American life and ideas.” In 1857, Harper’s Weekly was launched; it claimed to have a greater accent on politics, and even further fuzzied the line between newspapers and magazines. Also published in 1857, the Atlantic Monthly emerged as Harper’s Monthly’s greatest rival, with contributions and support from some of America’s most talented writers.
From 1895 to 1915, the goal of the muckrakers was to reform print, a system they saw as corrupt and economically unbalanced. These reformist magazines were politically influential. Politicians were compelled to respond to the expression of populist demand for reform in these major reformist magazines.
Low-priced magazines were nothing new but became revolutionary in magazine publishing and reading at the end of the century. The arrival of the half tone was a major factor in this revitalization. It provided economic motivation to the masses through its making rich color available at the same low price.
The popularity of these ten cent magazines was due to the ability to reach out to the less educated and less wealthy middle class. In these publications they received fiction and non-fiction stories, learned of new developments in science and transportation, and read about railroading and exploration. Many social reforms resulted in part from investigative reporting by muckrakers in these ten cent magazines. These muckrakers were a national media voice, in which the common theme of their stories was betrayal.
McClure’s magazine led the way in terms of muckraking by creating a pattern of scandalous revelations, combined with the concern for serious social issues. In 1892, Ida Tarbell was hired to expose the monopoly on the oil industry and Standard Oil’s operations, and as a result was considered the first great muckraker. Her investigative reporting helped to break up Standard Oil’s power in 1910 with the help of a Supreme Court decision. She also inspired antitrust suits in twenty states.
Corporations fought back at these accusations brought about by the muckrakers. In 1906, Senator John F. Dryden, president of Prudential Insurance Company, used his power while campaigning to persuade the editors of Cosmopolitan to remove negative articles pertaining to him. He also flooded magazines with self-serving propaganda by buying ad space and filling the ad spaces with these positive articles written about him by famous and greedy muckraking journalists.
The decline of the muckraking movement began with the publication of “The Treason of the Senate” by David Graham Phillips in Cosmopolitan. The story proved to be too bitter and resulted in President Teddy Roosevelt himself denouncing muckraker journalism. Many began to see that the truths the muckrakers were unearthing were not as bad as they had been portrayed.
In 1906, the talented and well-known writers of McClure’s, along with some editors resigned from the magazine. They bought Leslie’s Monthly Magazine and renamed it American Magazine, with the promise of being uplifting and positive. Soon it was as if there was nothing left to “rake,” for journalists had left no issues unturned. A flaw found in muckraking journalism was that these journalists had no solution for that which they had uncovered. In 1912, muckraking seemed to have worn out its welcome, and as a result, magazines responded to this loss of interest by rapidly changing their format.
The abandonment of muckraking left remaining radicalism in the hands of three publications: the Nation, the New Republic, and the Masses. The Nation was modeled after London’s Spectator and Saturday Review. It had many famous and not-so-famous contributors, but all were published as anonymous. For its modest circulation, it had much influence with its intellectual content. It remained a low-circulation publication, but had a trickle down influence on large numbers of people.
The advent of the Nation’s rival came in 1914 with the founding of the New Republic by Herbert Croly. His influential first book, “The Promise of American Life,” indirectly led to the founding of this publication.
The Masses, founded in 1911 by Piet Flag differed from the Nation and the New Republic in that its staff and contributors were working class people. This publication was considered Socialist, and all worked for no pay and made all decisions collectively. In order to survive in the United States’ capitalist society, some writers wrote for the Metropolitan, a monthly magazine that had opened its pages to socialist writers. The Masses found serious socialist rivals in the Comrade and the International Socialist Review, so they had to raise money to keep the publication afloat. The staff of the Masses was able to make it a free publication for the next five years until the Associate Press filed a criminal libel suit against them in 1916. Internal strife between the publication’s editors Eastman and Dell, and the resignation of its writers and artists resulted in the loss of its artistic and expressionistic spark. In December of 1917, the Masses gave up after being deemed unmailable by the Espionage Act, and then soon after losing its 2nd-class privileges.
Watergate an Investigative Journalism
Introduction and History
Contrary to what the movie Forrest Gump portrays, Forrest himself did not discover the Watergate scandal. It was actually the Washington Post that ran the story, specifically written by reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who broke the Watergate scandal. Watergate was discovered on June 17, 1972, with a burglary in the Watergate building, the home of the Democratic National Committee. A security guard named Frank Wills discovered the burglars. The five burglars, Virgilio González, Bernard Barker, James W. McCord, Jr., Eugenio Martínez, and Frank Sturgis, were linked to presidential candidate Richard Nixon, were all convicted of conspiracy, burglary, and violation of federal wiretapping laws. They all went on to serve lengthy jail times. As a result, on July 30, 1974, Nixon became the first president to resign from his position. Although Watergate happened in 1972, it has had a lasting impact on the decades succeeding, such as presidential and governmental standards and the role of investigative journalism. People think that investigative journalism often pry into their personal life, however, investigative journalism helps protect them from scandal.
The people that were involved in the scandal had various benefits to gain. Even though the Watergate scandal was discovered Nixon still became president. However, the burglars involved could have had great political gains at stake. On the opposite side, the journalists also had much to gain. With the reporting of the Watergate scandal, Woodward and Bernstein created the story of lifetime. The public learned of them about the scandal and were drawn into the whole process of the investigation.
There are many theories about why the Democratic National Committee's office was burglarized, ranging from Nixon's apparent ties to the mafia and to the possible killing of Fidel Castro. The most likely reason according to J. Anthony Lucas of the New York Times, The Nixon forces were trying to determine what Lawrence F. O'Brien, the chairperson of the Democratic National Committee, knew about some shady dealings between Nixon and Howard Hughes, particularly $100,000 passed from the multimillionaire to the President's friend Charles (Bebe) Rebozo, part of which was appaently later spent on furnishings and jewelry for the President and his family.  Although no motive has ever been confirmed for the burglary as far as I know, logically, people thought that the break in had something to do with the Republican committee trying to get the edge on the Democratic committee.
With the President of the United States uttering the famous line, "I am not a crook", Nixon also stated, "You must pursue this investigation of Watergate even if it leads to the president. I am innocent. You have to believe I am innocent. If you don't, take my job." Nixon tried to deny all involvement with the scandal. Once acknowledging his role in the scandal, the country was questioning the role of the president. How could someone cheat while trying to run for the most powerful position in the United States? How could someone be so dishonest with the citizens of his county? The truth is simple: Nixon wanted to win and he would do practically anything to make that dream a reality. The people involved in the crime had a lot to gain, as well as the people reporting on it. Nixon would become president, the five burglars probably all had something to gain being a part of the Nixon staff, and the reporters found a once in-a-lifetime story.
Impact of Watergate on Investigative Journalism
With the resignation of Nixon, many people lost faith in their government. As a result, according to Christopher Cacace, "Several new laws were drafted to prevent further campaign-funded scandals from happening, laws such as the Freedom of Information Act of 1976, which granted exposure of previously disclosed government documents and files." After the next election, the country was put into the hands of Jimmy Carter, a democrat, who would later have to face the Soviets in the Cold War. In other words, with the unrest between the American citizens and the Republican Party, a Democrat would take over the White House. Also as part of the Freedom of Information Act, the president was given less power. People were now able to view record and evidence that were previous not available to them, although, Nixon never released those now infamous Watergate tapes to the public. This allows people in society to become more knowledgeable about a person. In addition, along with citizens being able to gain knowledge, newspaper reports could easily build more interesting and intriguing stories.
Along with American politics changing, the role of journalism changed as well in a number of ways. First, journalism became a media "watchdog". According to Christopher Cacace, "Journalists more than ever were now responsible for being a "watch dog" to government actions and acting as a "check and balance" to keep government actions in order. A new wave of journalism started which resulted in a more in-depth look at the lives of people in positions of power, a change that was welcomed by the public, as current journalists are able to catch scandals and illegalities, which they previously were not ready for. This means that people of substantial power are put under a spotlight where their every move is followed and critiqued by the press and by the public." Kellner explains, "The Press was conceived in this system as the "fourth estate" and freedom of the press was provided by most Western democracies as a fundamental right and as a key institution within a constitutional order based on separation of powers in which the media would serve as a check against corruption and excessive power in the other institutions." In other words, these ideas, both the "media watchdog" and the media being described as the fourth estate assist in helping the public gain knowledge to make important decisions about their government. Knowledge is power for those who know what is going on inside their government, and action can be taken if change is thought to be needed. Media gives knowledge to people by giving them the facts they need to be informed.
The mainstream media went to task in discovering the truth about what happened during Watergate. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein worked relentlessly to uncover the
facts for the public. However, Nixon would be throwing a curve ball into all of this. According to Carl Bergetz, "The mainstream media at the time may have won the battle against Nixon, but Nixonian politics won the war… Nixon understood that politics could be theater. They developed a media plan focused on emotion and impression, not reason". Nevertheless, in the end, Nixon still came out as the bad person. He misplaced the trust of the people and the people choose a different man and party for the next President of the United States. With Woodward and Bernstein attending the hearings of the Watergate scandal, they provided valuable information to the masses. The Washington Post reporters were able to relay information to the people who could not be present at the hearings. By providing this information to the public, people were able to educate themselves on the topic and were later able to make informative decisions for their country.
Another way that investigative journalism advanced is the high-profile use of anonymous sources. Woodward and Bernstein used an anonymous person to gain insider information on the scandal. This journalistic anonymous source was named "Deep Throat" and was a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent named Mark Felt. According to David Von Drehle of the Washington Post, "As the bureau’s second- and third-ranking official during a period when the FBI was battling for its independence against the administration of President Richard M. Nixon, Felt had the means and the motive to help uncover the web of internal spies, secret surveillance, dirty tricks and cover-ups that led to Nixon’s unprecedented resignation on August 9, 1974, and to prison sentences for some of Nixon’s highest-ranking aides." In addition, anonymous sources have become more widely used by journalists today they help aid in their investigations. It took Mark Felt thirty years to acknowledge that he is in fact, the journalistic "Deep Throat" of the Watergate scandal. Insider information is valuable in changing opinion because it brings more information to the people that may influence their views.
Throughout history, the Watergate scandal has left its mark on the government, as well as investigative journalism. Through Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's hard work and dedication, they proved that no crime goes unpunished, even if the person at fault held the highest position in the land. Nixon thought he could get away with it, all in the goal of winning the presidential election. However, through strategies such as anonymous informants and the "fourth estate", the truth eventually prevailed. Investigative journalism led to the people being able to make informative decisions on their own when they are presented with the truth, reaffirming once again that knowledge is power. With knowledge being used as power, if enough people educate themselves, change can happen.
- Lukas, J. Anthony Lukas; J. Anthony Lukas Is Author Of A Book On Watergate That Was Published In 1976 And Is To Be Reissued Next. "Why the Watergate Break-In?" The New York Times. The New York Times, 30 Nov. 1987. Web. 14 Apr. 2013.
- Cacace, Christopher. "History of Watergate and Its Lasting Effects on Investigative Journalism." Yahoo! Contributor Network. N.p., 27 May 2009. Web. 7 Apr. 2013.
- Cacace, Christopher. "History of Watergate and Its Lasting Effects on Investigative Journalism." Yahoo! Contributor Network. N.p., 27 May 2009. Web. 7 Apr. 2013.
- Kellner, Douglas. "Habermas, the Public Sphere, and Democracy: A Critical Intervention". n.p. Web. April 14, 2013.
- Bergetz, Carl. "It's Not Funny 'Cause It's True". n.p. Web. April 15, 2013.
- Von Drehle, David. "FBI’s No. 2 Was ‘Deep Throat’: Mark Felt Ends 30-Year Mystery of The Post’s Watergate Source." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 6 June 2012. Web. 20 April 2013.