Until very recently, it was appropriate to say that a newspaper is a regularly issued, geographically limited medium printed on unbound newsprint, which serves the general interests of a specific community with news, comment, features, photographs, and advertising.
The definition has nothing to do with frequency of publication, size, or format. Today the physical characteristics of the newspaper remain as described, but the recent satellite-aided and Internet-aided distribution of printed media from scattered production centers to nation or even global audiences, causes to reconsider the traditional “local nature” of the newspaper.
Newspapers can vary as widely as the multiple editions of the economically plagued New York Daily News, whose 1.3 million copies per day are read by some four million people, to economically secure monthly newspapers serving only a few hundred residents of small American communities.
When movable type was invented in the 1450s by Gutenberg (Johannes GENSFLEISH 1400 – 1468), it was first used to print books. It was not until 150 years later that printers in England began distributing tracts, or pamphlets, containing topical news. By 1621, corantos, single-sheet tracts dealing with current foreign affairs, were common. Corantos were followed in 1641 by diurnals, four-page bulletins of local news.
Print was becoming available to wider audiences. Produced in days and sometimes in hours for only a few pennies, the print media’s scope was expanding, bringing print to whole new audiences in terms of cost and interest.
These new print media offered a more immediate, although cursory, overview of contemporary events at a much cheaper cost than a book, though admittedly sacrificing the elegance, permanence and depth of a book. Each of these forerunners to the modern newspaper grew in popularity. Early printers began to publish then regularly, discovering that they could count on roughly the same number of customers for each issue. Thus the concept of circulation was born – the formal, quantitative expression of audience numbers. Such a profitable concept, in turn, encouraged schemes to increase sales. One method was to step up the frequency of publication from monthly to fortnightly to weekly and eventually to daily issues as technology improved, doubling and quadrupling circulation. The Oxford Gazette (later the London Gazette) [gazeta – a Venetian small coin] became the first regularly published European newspaper in 1665; in 1702 the Daily Courant became the first daily in England. [In Russia the first newspaper “Vedomosty o voyennykh i novykh dyelakh, dostojnykh znaniya i pamyati” was founded by Peter I in Moscow in 1703, since 1728 it was transformed into “SPb Vedomosti” and was published by the Academy of Sciences].
In America, Benjamin Harris tried to publish the first newspaper in 1690. But his Publick Occurrences, Both Forreign and Domestic, lasted exactly one issue. The Boston News-Letter, a weekly started by Jonh Campbell in 1704, became the first continuing American newspaper. Most of population in America was illiterate, still the primary focus of media was political, economic and literary, because that was what the small, sophisticated audience expected. Early low circulation newspapers had high pass-on readership or listenership, because many of the illiterates who gathered at coffeehouses and inns had newspapers red aloud to them. The primary subscribers were a kind of “Who’s Who” of Colonial America.
In mid-1775 William Bradford’s Pennsylvania Journal had only 220 subscribers in Philadelphia, the largest city on the North American continent with population of thirty-five thousand residents. In Philadelphia and in outlying areas, the Journal’s readers were important political leaders, or important information disseminators, such as postmasters, tavern keepers, or newspaper publishers who tended to reprint significant news and opinions in their own local newspapers.
By the time of the American Revolution (1775 – 1781), an unencumbered press actively participated in the dissemination of information and opinion. One might easily conclude that the press had always been able to print at will, but such was not the case. For more that two hundred years the governments of England and later the colonies had imposed restrictions on the press, and much of the early history of newspapers involved a struggle for freedom to print.
From earliest times, authoritarian leaders have seen all too clearly the threat that the mass production of ideas imposes on established order, and have undertaken steps to control such threat.
This term is applied to sensationalism in news presentation, the use of lurid features in publishing to attract readers and increase circulation. The phrase was first used in the 1890s to describe the tactics employed in furious competition between two New York City newspapers, the “WORLD” and the “JOURNAL”.
Before that, sensationalism in news presentation characterized the United States “penny press”, such as Benjamin Day’s “NEW YORK SUN”. The “SUN” and the other penny newspapers promoted sensationalism to the point of outright faking. They capitalized on street sales, giving rise to the newsboy who ran about the city with news sheets, calling out headlines.
After the Civil War, the sensationalism introduced by the penny press was revived and extended by the new reliance on advertising. By 1880 advertising met a major part of the cost of publishing a daily, and advertising rates were based on circulation. A consequence was hard-fought competition for both subscribers and street sales.
This was the age of the great newspaper empires of Joseph Pulitzer, William Randolf Hearst, and Edward W. Scripps, who each owned several newspapers across the continent.
In New York City the newspaper business was shaken up by the arrival of Joseph Pulitzer who is often credited with changing the course of American journalism. An immigrant from Hungary, Pulitzer bought the failing “NEW YORK WORLD” in 1883, and using colorful, sensational reporting and crusades against political corruption and social injustice, in three years raised its circulation from 15.000 to 250.000. With a series of stunts Pulitzer revitalized the established formulas of sensationalism and took one step further to exciting journalism. One of his innovations was a Sunday edition, carrying special articles and a comic section, first produced in November 1894. Prominent among the comic strips was Richard Outcault’s “Yellow Kid” – a cartoon, featuring a simplistic, folksy philosopher in a yellow nightshirt. From that came the term “yellow journalism”.
Whereas Pulitzer was never afraid to unearth public wrongdoing and to crusade against it, the next press baron to influence New York City newspapers, William Hearst was prepared to go further extremes in creating a headline story. Before William Hearst, the son of a Californian mining tycoon, moved in 1895 into New York City, he had already built San Francisco “EXAMINER” into a successful mass circulation paper by applying the principles of sensationalism devised by the penny press fifty years earlier, and made it plain that he intended to do the same in New York City. He entered the New York scene by purchasing the “MORNING JOURNAL” and going into headlong conflict with the “WORLD” for circulation. Hearst was interested in circulation-building sensation at any price, even if it meant dressing up complete fabrication as news.
This was flamboyant journalism in its extreme form; an uninhibited time when editors invented incidents and headlines to go with them, and facts played a relatively small role in journalism. Indeed, Hearst was even accused of having started the Spanish-American War as a circulation device. It wasn’t true: even Hearst wouldn’t go that far. But inflammatory headlines, proclaiming the sinking of the U.S. battleship “Maine” in the Havana harbor to be the work of an enemy, stirred the country to a pitch of hysteria. Hearts is reported to have cabled his illustrator in Cuba, demanding pictures of atrocities for the “JOURNAL”. The illustrator found no atrocities to illustrate and informed Hearst, who replied, “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war”.
Scare headlines and attention grabbing campaigns were only one of the tactics introduced by Hearst. Equally important in yellow journalism was a strong emphasis on the pictorial – photographs, cartoons, graphic illustrations, and the new Sunday supplements, which focused on human-interest stories and comic strips. As “The Yellow Kid” proved to be exceedingly popular, Hearst bid him away from the “WORLD” to the NEW YORK JOURNAL”. After Outcault’s defection the comic was drawn for the “WORLD” by George Lucks, and the two rival picture series excited so much attention that the competition between the two papers came to be described as “yellow journalism”.
The efforts of Hearst and Pulitzer paid off handsomely as circulation at both the “JOURNAL” and the “WORLD” increased to over four hundred thousand a day, making newspapers big business in a society that was becoming accustomed to big business.
The 1890s and the early 1900s also saw an explosion of feature and non-news content in the newspapers. Comic strips and advice to the lovelorn, games and puzzles, and features occupied most of the paper space. Basically, yellow journalism was an appeal to the semi-educated urban population swelled by foreign immigration who demanded a substantial measure of entertainment in their press.
A relatively high ratio of nonuse had been a part of newspapers for some time. Throughout the nineteenth century nearly a third of the content of major newspapers had been devoted to literary fare by such authors as Nathaniel Hawthorne, James Fenimore Cooper and Mark Twain. In the 1880s the Book and McClure syndicates furnished syndicated literary material to the press. But the period of yellow journalism redirected the material of appeal to the common citizen; features, and popular columnists replaced serious authors as feature entries.
The era of yellow journalism may be said to have ended shortly after the turn of the century. By 1910 a notable decline in yellow journalism was evident. Even Joseph Pulitzer gradually retired from the competition in sensationalism in favor of more serious and socially responsible coverage of national and international events. Taking a cue from the increasingly popular “NEW YORK TIMES”, with its accurate, documentary, and clean news for the increasingly literate readership, Pulitzer’s “WORLD” began to follow suit. Some readers, it seemed, were growing tired of the emphasis on crime, sex, and faked stories.
At the turn of the century, popular journalism came into its own in Britain with the rise of Alfred Harmsworth (later Lord Northcliffe) who can be called the first of the British press barons both for his title and for his enduring influence on the press. During his lifetime he owned, at various time, the “DAILY MAIL”, “THE TIMES”, and the “OBCERVER”.
As his first effort, he launched a cheep weekly magazine in 1888, when he was only 23. Using short sentences, short paragraphs, and short articles, he set a new style of editing, aimed at attracting a large following among those who had learned to read as a result of the 1870 Education Act making school compulsory for all British children. In 1894 Harmsworth bought the “EVENING NEWS” and by combining his editing style with some of the methods of the American yellow press he quadrupled its circulation within a year.
In 1896 came Harmsworth’s main innovation, the “DAILY MAIL”. As “A Penny Paper for One Halfpenny”, the “DAILY MAIL” was sold to the reader at a low price, only made possible by the paper’s lucrative revenue from advertising. It was the first British paper to be based deliberately on advertising revenue rather than on sales revenue.
Another “MAIL” slogan, “The Busy Man’s Daily Journal”, emphasized the snappy editorial style that followed the Harmsworth dictum of “Explain, simplify, clarify”. This approach guided the new type of journalists, known as subeditors, whose job was to rewrite stories in the “house” style, to compose headlines, and, if necessary, to add seasoning to the original story.
Another Harmsworth innovation was the tabloid newspaper, which was to revolutionize the popular press in the 20th century. The term tabloid was coined by Harmsworth when he designed and edited an experimental issue of the “NEW YORK WORLD”, produced for the New Year’s Day, 1900. The tabloid halved the size of the newspaper page, which allowed easier handling by the reader, but it also suited the new, curtailed size of articles and the more numerous pages required per issue. In the long run, however, the term tabloid has come to define the popular newspaper more in style than in physical characteristics. The first successful tabloid was Harmsworth’s “DAILY MIRROR” (1903). Originally launched as a newspaper for “gentlemen”, the “MIRROR” had been a failure, but the tabloid format, together with a halfpenny cover price and numerous photographs, made the new picture paper an immediate success, with circulation running at more than 1,000,000 copies by 1914.
After World War I the struggle for circulation intensified. The circulation “war of tabs” struck New York City in the 1920s, and one of the most popular newspapers of that time was the “NEW YORK DAILY NEWS”. First published in 1919, it was written to a ruthless recipe of sex and sensationalism by Joseph Patterson. This circulation “war of tabs” was copied in Britain in 1930s, bringing with it numerous circulation-boosting stunts. Prizes for readers had been introduced as early as the 1890s, when Harmsworth offered a pound a week for life for the reader who could guess the value of gold in the Bank of England on a given day. In the 1920s one paper offered free insurance to subscribers, but this soon proved too costly to maintain. In 1930 the “Daily Herald” offered gifts to woo new readers.
After World War II one of the prosperous followers of “yellow journalism” was Rupert Murdoch, who inherited from his father, Australian newspapers the “Sunday Mail” and “The News”, and quickly converted the latter into a paper dominated by news of sex and scandal, often writing its banner headlines himself.
By the time that Murdoch acquired his first British newspaper in 1969 – “News of the World” – he had put together a proven formula for boosting circulation, which entailed an emphasis on crime, sex, scandal, and human-interest stories with bold-face headlines, prolific sports reporting, and outspokenly conservative editorializing.
In 1973 Murdoch entered the American newspaper business by purchasing two San Antonio, Texas, dailies, one of which – the “San Antonio News” – he transformed into a sex-and-scandal sheet that soon dominated the city’s afternoon market. In 1974 he introduced a national weekly sensationalist tabloid, the “Star”, and in 1976 he purchased the afternoon tabloid “New York Post”.
Although the practice of yellow journalism is now just a small part of mass media industry, some techniques of the yellow journalism period became more or less permanent and widespread, such as banner headlines, colored comics, copious illustration, and some others.
A peculiarity of the American mass communications system is that advertising pays most of the bills. It accounts for around two-thirds of the revenue of the print media, and nearly all the revenue for broadcasting. Only public radio and television, and occasional special interest programming such as religious shows, manage to get by without advertising support.
Advertising’s influence in the mass media marketplace has both advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side is the fact that the American people get an incredible variety of information, entertainment, and culture at minimal cost. A disadvantage is that nearly all of America’s mass communications is heavily overlain with commercial or persuasive messages. Studies indicate that the average American is exposed to hundreds of commercial/advertising message each day.
All advertising contains both information and persuasion. The classified advertisements in the daily newspaper are almost pure information. So are most of the big supermarket specials. Their primary intention is to advise readers of the availability of a product, telling where, when, and for how much. The audience either want it or they don’t. Persuasion is another story.
To set one myth to rest at the onset, advertising does not sell, and cannot sell anything. Advertising predisposes, tips the scales if you like. In Latin, “ad vertere” means “to turn the mind toward”.
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines advertising as “any paid form of nonpersonal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods or services by an identified sponsor.” The AMA points out that advertising is a tool of marketing along with the product (and its packaging), price, distribution and personal selling. Unlike public relations, advertising is openly and overtly subsidized information and persuasion, and its task is to present and promote far more than merchandise.
Advertising is controlled, identifiable and persuasion by means of mass communications. Such definitions point out another distinction between advertising and other forms of promotion: whoever pays the bills to place the advertising in the media exercises control over how those messages are to appear. When you send a public relations release to the local paper, the editors and reporters become the gate keepers. They determine whether, and how, your message gets told. But when you pay for commercial space, you are the gatekeeper, and have far more influence in determining how the message looks, what it says, when and where it will appear, and who is likely to see it.
Advertising is an ancient practice, but most of its early history is undistinguished. Following hundreds of years of usage, advertising began to grow very slowly only after the development of print technology. It has matured only within the last century, under the pressure of the industrial revolution and today’s postindustrial economy.
During the illiterate times of bygone centuries, advertising was graphic and informational. The wineshopkeeper and the sandalmaker advertised their wares by handing out a wineskin and a pair of sandals. To natives and travelers alike, these signs told where wine and sandals were sold. This was pure information, which indicated the availability of a product. However, human ingenuity never sleeps, and one day an enterprising wine seller hung out a larger wineskin. Not only was this bigger wineskin visible at a greater distance, thus automatically expanding its audience, but the size itself psychologically said that here was a bigger and better wineshop. The sandalmakers followed suit. They made pairs of giant sandals and discovered that the sandals became conversation pieces and that folks came to their shops out of curiosity. Orders increased, and the correlation between exposure and sales became established.
The point is that the ordinary wineskin or pair of sandals provided pure information. However, once a bigger wineskin was built, an element of persuasion was injected: biggest is better, advertising presented varying combination of information and persuasion, plus an important extra: something to catch the audience’s attention – the bigger wineskin and the enormous sandals were both big pluses in the competition for attention.
The invention of movable type led to increasing literacy, and it was natural that advertising, while retaining its graphic elements, should also take advantage of the new medium.
By the early nineteenth century newspapers carried some classified advertising. One of the more intriguing ads appeared in several St.Louis papers during February and March of 1822.
Enterprising Young Men
The subscriber wishes to engage ONE HUNDRED MEN, to ascend the river Missouri to its source, there to be employed for one, two or three years. For particulars inquire of Major Andrew Henry, near the Lead Mines, in the Country of Washington (who will ascend with, and command the party) or to the subscriber at St.Louis.
W. H. Ashley
Some of those who responded to the small ad became the most famous names in Rocky Mountain history, for they were free trappers of the Rocky Mountain Fur Company who spawn legends and opened the West.
Early advertising was local, serving local merchants and local audience. But the industrial revolution changed this. It brought about the mass production of products, requiring mass purchases far in excess of what the local community could support.
The new emphasis on advertising began to take hold before the middle of the 19th century with the establishment of a number of advertising agencies. In actuality, these early agencies were little more than publisher’s representatives or space brokers. Often they would contract with a publisher for a certain amount of space in a newspaper, and then sell this space to advertisers for whatever amount the traffic would bear. There were no published rate cards in those days and no certified circulation figures. National advertising was on a happenstance basis, removed from the local familiarity that exercised a certain degree of control between a publisher and a merchant operating in the same town or city.
In 1869 some order appeared with the publication of Rowell’s “American Newspaper Directory”, establishing approximate circulations for the nation’s newspapers. For the first time, advertisers had some idea of the coverage they were buying. At about the same time, advertising agencies came into being. Among the first to represent their clients with the newspapers were J. W. Thompson and N. W. Ayer & Son, often writing the copy and laying out the ads. For this they were paid a commission or discount by the newspapers, generally 15 percent. Publishers found the commissions system useful to encourage agencies to sell space, while leaving themselves free to sell other space at full price.
The first attempt to distinguish among identical products was through brand name identification; an effort was made to establish the brand name as synonymous with the product or quality. Coca-Cola, Kleenex and Xerox are contemporary examples: Kleenex means “facial tissue”, and Xerox – “photo duplication”.
While brand names were an effective advertising technique, something more was required to firmly establish product difference in the public mind. From the realm of political campaigning, advertisers borrowed the slogan, a catchy capsule summary of the product. Pears’ Soap updated itself instantly with a catchy “Good morning, have you used Pears’ today?” And it was with this greeting that at least two generations of English greeted one another every morning – marvelously effective, and superb word of mouth.
Slogans came and went, and it was not until the 1920s and the advent of broadcasting that new developments (and sounds) began to appear. The slogan gave way to the jingle, which was little more than a slogan set to music and rhyme. “Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should” is an evident and ungrammatical example. Coca-Cola’s “It’s the Real Thing” is almost a musical classic.
The use of brand names and their accompanying slogans and jingles has carried on into the present. They continue to be successfully used even after more sophisticated persuasion techniques have been developed. Often brand names, slogans, and jingles are used in conjunction with other techniques, pyramiding on each other for maximum effect.
Following World War II a new spirit invaded advertising. Interest in psychological warfare and propaganda had injected heavy doses of the social sciences, particularly psychology and sociology, into the persuasion field. Computers, which first had a practical application during the war, greatly facilitated public opinion measurement, polling, and testing, and gave birth to more accurate ratings. Also, the genesis of television in 1948, only three years after the war, added new dimensions to the advertising, as it did to most other phases of life.
Newspapers still take the greatest share of the national advertising dollar. Television takes between 21 and 22 percent, up from 13 percent in 1969. However, it should be noted that the newspapers’ share is spread out among 1687 daily newspapers and 7600 weeklies, while television’s percentage is concentrated among some 900 commercial stations and the three networks, plus cable. Magazines handle about 5.2% of the national advertising volume, down from 10% in 1960. The remaining 39% of advertising goes for such things as direct mail, which gets a whopping 16.8% of the ad dollar, along with billboards, business and farm publications, and other miscellaneous outlets.
Direct-mail advertisements are designed to stimulate responses by return mail. Attempts have been made to sell almost every type of product and service by direct mail from insurance to antique autos. Some companies, such as Spigel mail-order house in Chicago, base their entire advertising plan on direct mail.
There are a half million people directly employed in the advertising business in America, and perhaps as many as a million more whose jobs depend directly upon advertising.
American’s advertising agencies vary from local one-person shops employing a principal and a secretary in smaller communities, to the creative boutiques of Madison avenue employing unique individuals specializing in usual effects, to the largest highly organized, and even institutionalized variety.
Young & Rubican has been the nations largest advertising agency, doing about $3,6 billion worth business in year. In 1986 three other firms which had 10.000 employees and $5 billion in annual billings decided to join forces and become number one: batten, Barton, Dursting & Osborne (BBDO) international; the Doyle Dame Bern Bach Group; and Needham Harper worldwide. Other billion-dollar agencies are the J. Walter Thompson and Mc Cann-erikson companies. Like other properties in mass media, successful advertising agencies are bought and sold at a pace never before seen.
The origins of the cinema as we know it lie in a machine patented in 1891 by Thomas Edison – kinetoscope. This machine rotated, rapidly showing different frames, so giving the impression of a moving picture. Early films were produced solely to show off the ingeniousness of the machines that project them, and were one or two minutes long, but by early 1900s films started to tell stories. During the years of the First World War American cinema flourished and technical innovations abounded. By 1927 the use of sound on film became commercially viable and the film recognized as first successful sound movie was released – “The Jazz Singer”.
Film is counted as a major mass medium because of the effect it has upon large masses of people over a relatively long period of time. In all its variations – the art film, the cartoon, the popular extravaganza, industrial showcase, educational teaching aid, the social documentary and the new genre of the television “quickie” – it has unquestionably had a massive effect upon society. In this sense, as a carrier of the culture, a changing mirror of changing times, film is unexcelled.
It was in the late 1900s that the Hollywood golden era began. With the development of commercial film-making in the early 1900s various film production companies had started up in the United States in fierce competition with each other. Many of these companies became associated with stars still popular and today, for example Charlie Chaplin, who, having native UK for the USA, became a founder in 1919 of United Artists. By the 1930s most of these studios were in financial difficulties because of the Depression. They had to make certain compromises to survive, which in part led to the development of film genre. A genre is a number of films, all containing characteristics in common, including sets and stars. Certain studios started producing a number of films from one genre in order to use the same sets, and to use contracted stars who were becoming popular with the audiences. For example, Warner Brothers was associated with a large number of gangster films and Universal with horror films, while others were associated with melodramas and musicals. It was this studio system that typified the golden age of Hollywood, but by the 1905s it was somewhat in decline, with a stronger European films industry and the rising popularity of television hitting their box office takings.
One continuing feature of the studio system is that of the film star. Studios vied with each other to find and contract popular film stars as a way of increasing audience share. Some of the biggest stars of the 1930s and 1940s were closely associated with particular studios, for example, Rita Hayworth with Columbia. Though the 1940s and 1950s the popularity of stars such as Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne continued to grow. Film stars became part of people’s everyday lives and begun to take interest in other areas, for example, politics. As everyone knows, Ronald Reagan a B – movie actor of the 1940s and 1950s, was voted president of the USA in 1980! Apart from the occasional presidency the highest reward that can be given to film stars is the famous Oscar, a little gold statuette that forms the peak of many an actor’s career.
Of course actors are not the only stars of the film industry. Certain film directors have achieved star status in the past, such as Orson Welles, whose innovative “Citizen Cane” is the only film to appear consistently in the critics’ top tens, and Alfred Hitchhock, who really gave the thriller genre its name with films such as ‘Psycho’ and ‘Frenzy’. Contemporary directors, while being perhaps more difficult to understand, are equally as popular, and are finding success in areas other than feature films, for example, television and pop promotional videos.
Not all cinema, needless to stay, comes from Hollywood. Much early European cinema has, in fact, a lasting influence on Hollywood with, for example, a low-key lighting and camera angles of German Expressionism being transferred to Hollywood ‘film noir’. Apart from Hollywood cinema, over the last forty years or so we have seen very strong film industries emerge from many countries. In some cases these herald new movements, for example, the French New Wave and Italian Neo-Realism, in others they feature particular directors, such as Ingmar Bergman in Sweden, Akira Kurosawa in Japan and, more recently, Pedro Almodovar in Spain. In fact, while most people believe Los-Angeles to be the biggest ‘production village’, that honor goes to Bombay, India, which has the most fertile film industry of any country in the world.
In many countries film-makers take their role in society more seriously than they do in Hollywood. Much European cinema, as indeed some American non-mainstream cinema, focuses on contemporary issues, such as the sociology of the inner city, poverty, the psychology of marriage and racism. Possibly the most striking developments in film over the last few years, however, have been those in technology and special effects, bringing us images of space travel and strange creatures in films such as ‘Star Wars’, and the mixture of reality and animation in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’ This film, of course, did little more than to carry on the tradition of the greatest cartoon film-maker of all time – Walt Disney, who was one of the most financially successful producers ever.
What about the future of the film industry in the twenty-first century? Film-making industry is flourishing: more money is being spent on producing films and on viewing them than ever before. However, is the ever-increasing sophistication of television and video likely to affect the popularity of cinema? With the possibility of large screen viewing in the home, and the boom in video rentals since the video standard, VHS, became fairly universal, video and TV have become a cheaper, more convenient and more comfortable alternative to the cinema. We will have to wait and see.