Monday, December 19, 2016
INVENTION OF JOURNALISM
Full marks to the Royal Irish Academy for hosting, and to Marsh's Library and UCD for sponsoring, Andrew Pettegree's talk on "The Invention of Journalism" (23/11/2016).
It was a fascinating insight into the evolution of modern media, through the golden age of the newspaper which in turn evolved from the hand copied manuscript news notes which mainly served to inform those involved in distant commerce.
I'm not going to go through the material as the full talk is now podcast here.
At the end of the fifteenth century we had commercialised news in the form of manuscript copied notes which gradually grew in size and eventually grew into the earlier form of newspapers. Whereas the notes were brief and factual, and their continued success relied on their reputation for accuracy, the newspapers introduced an editorial line.
This could be obvious in advocating a particular cause or political party, for instance, or it could be more subtle and implemented through the choice of what news to report and what to reject.
Andrew reminded us that, down the ages, it was the choice of what "news" to omit that constituted the real power of the papers. He recounted how some newspapers would investigate a scandal and then offer to suppress its publication for a fee.
The nineteenth century was the heyday in the development and expansion of the newspaper, but you had always to remember to ask yourself about the agenda behind any publication. Clearly that remains the case today.
Media proprietors, journalists and those involved in social & citizens' media would do well to listen to this relatively short(36 minute) podcast and check out where they are placed on this big historical canvas, particularly where ethics are concerned.