Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chapter 7 Review and Assignments - Questions due March 6

Chap. 7: The Penny Press, 1833-1861

The penny press era is an important period in American journalism and has produced a large body of historical literature: biographies, reminiscences, surveys and analyses. Although historians have presented a variety of explanations of the period, most agree on certain assumptions. They recognize it as the beginning of modern journalism, they place an emphasis on the New York City press, and they emphasize the development of newspapers and journalistic practices. Despite these agreements, a number of questions central to the study of the penny press remain in dispute. You will have to read the chapter to get the answers for these questions. Please answer the following questions and submit them via email. You are also allowed to post your comments on this blog. In either case, I will respond to your blog and you will know your grade. Thank you.

1. What was the essential nature of the penny press?

2. Did the penny press provide a model of proper journalistic practices, as "Developmental" historians argued, or did it gain its value by advocating the ideological cause of the common man, as "Progressive" historians declared?

3. What were the reasons for the appearance of the penny press: the insight of great, creative men; the natural recognition by journalism of what proper newspapers should be; or great social forces that had come to the fore?

4. Although we know much about what was happening in the large urban areas of the nation—particularly New York City—what changes were occurring in the journalism of the smaller cities and rural areas? Were the changes a reflection of those that were occurring in the larger urban areas?

5. Who were the newspaper readers of the day? Why did they read? What effect did their reading have on the individuals and society at large?

6. Why does the emergence of the penny press seem to be a “natural” occurrence for Developmental historians?

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