Speeches/Meeting Papers; Historical Materials; Information Analyses
While the founders of the penny press did not set out to establish a truer form of journalism, they did popularize both low prices for newspapers and newspaper economics based on sales instead of political party backing. The history of "The Sun,""The Herald," and "The Tribune" disprove the idea (advanced by journalism scholars) that the penny press (founded in the 1830s) foreshadowed modern journalism. Although these early penny press giants did contribute in some ways to future journalism, their newspapers contained much material that could not be considered modern or innovative. Benjamin Day created the New York "Sun" in 1833 without the backing of any political party, a distinct handicap in the era of political party sponsored newspapers. The paper cost only a penny, compared to six cents for other newspapers. Day constantly attacked other papers in an effort to win a firm spot in Americans' reading habits for the "Sun." He and George Wisner gave it saucy writing and made it manageable in size. James Gordon Bennett, intrigued by the success of the "Sun," founded "The Herald" in 1835, which adopted the successful format of the "Sun." As Bennett saw it, the new paper would essentially solve all the problems of mankind. Horace Greely founded "The New York Tribune" in 1841 with the mission of teaching the true principles of government--a Whig true government--and seeing that they were carried out. Greely offered news and literature, but the "Tribune's" outstanding feature was its Whig politics. (Ninety-seven notes are included.) (RS)
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Journalism Historians Association (Salt Lake City, UT, October 6-9, 1993).