Monday, April 13, 2009

Chapter discussions for the past two weeks

Below are discussion pages and questions for Chapters 11-18. You do not have to answer the questions, but they will help you understand the chapter. Please review as we prepare for our test during the next two weeks. Dr. Flores.

Chap. 11: The Press and Industrial America, 1865-1883

Historians in recent years, like most other historians, tend to be in¬fluenced by the conditions of their own time. Recent trends toward concentrated media ownership have encouraged historians to examine the economic aspects of the media of the past. As a result, the press of the Industrial Age has attracted growing attention from historians who believe they can perceive during that time the real beginnings of the rapid growth of newspapers as big business. In their quest to understand the fundamentals of media operations, they have posed a number of questions deserving of attention; and yet a number of critical questions remain unanswered.

1. How did media business practices affect success in the period after the Civil War?

2. How did the growth of newspapers as businesses affect their relationship to “big business” and the wealthy?

3. How did big-city newspapers influence small-town papers?

4. Developmental historians have posed a variety of questions relating to the origin and practice of journalism techniques during the period. How did the interview begin, for example, and which journalist was most instrumental in developing practices such as more appealing newspaper appearance? Who were the most important figures in Industrial Journalism? How did they contribute to the evolution of the profession?

5. In attempting to answer such questions as the previous one, one must ask whether historians are influenced too much by conditions of today. Might historians be so concerned with changes of the past few years that their view of earlier times is clouded?

6. Once such fundamental questions about historical study are answered, one still is left with the major questions about the nature of the Industrial Press that historians have propounded. How did journalists think of themselves—as journalists, mere employees, or as reformers? Were their main considerations journalistic, ideological, or economic? Were they generally reform-minded or reactionary?

7. What factors influenced the media? Were they mainly journalistic ones, or were they environmental?

8. What impact did individual journalists have on the nature of the media? How did their impact compare to that of impersonal cultural forces?

Chap. 12: The Age of New Journalism, 1883-1900

The era of New Journalism has received substantial historical treatment, primarily because of the prominence of Pulitzer and Hearst and because of the excesses of Yellow Journalism. Historical interest has been increased by what appears to be a clear tie between those subjects and the Spanish-American War.

1. It is that interrelationship that gives rise to some of the most important ques¬tions that historians have asked about the period. What, for example, was the relationship between the press and the war? Were the yellow journals responsible, as some historians have claimed, for causing the war; or were they comparatively unimportant in the whole milieu of causes?

2. Although the question of press influence has been much debated, it is reasonably clear that the yellow journals promoted war. What was their motivation for doing so? Was it to free Cuba from the repressive rule of Spain, as some early historians argued, or was it simply to promote newspaper circulation, as others have claimed?

3. On domestic issues, what were the motivations? Were publishers such as Pulitzer and Hearst truly concerned about solving social problems, or were they unscrupulously using the problems for their own self-promotion and circulation building? Were they true social reformers or reactionary, profit-oriented businessmen?

4. Should the primary historical consideration of New Journalism be on such social issues that Progressive historians emphasized, or should historical study focus instead on the contributions that New Journalism made to advancing journalistic practices?

5. Is New Journalism best understood as the origin of modern journalism? If so, who or what forces provided the impetus for changes?

6. On the matter of newspaper practices, was sensationalized news really what the public wanted, or was that desire created by the press itself?

7. Did journalism progress with the use of sensationalism, or did sensationalism set journalism back?

8. Was sensationalism a natural outgrowth of new urban condi¬tions, or the shrewd approach of insightful journalists such as Pulitzer who used it to increase circulation and eventually enlarge the body of the American public who became serious newspaper readers?

9. Were the practices of New Journalism really an attempt to clean up society, or were they merely a means of increasing circulation?

10. What is the legacy of New Journalism?

Chap. 13: American Magazines, 1740-1900

The study of magazine history, a relative new field compared with some other areas of mass communication history, faces some of the handicaps of a young area. There is a need, for instance, for a com¬prehensive bibliography; more interpretive studies, especially those that explain the social mediating power of mass magazines; and more research into areas such as the development of religious and foreign-language periodicals. Despite the fact, however, that much work waits to be done, historians have raised a number of intriguing questions about the nature of magazines and the various influences operating on them.

1. What cultural forces influenced the content of magazines as they increased in number early in the 19th century, until about the 1830s?

2. What was the relationship between advertising and magazines? How did advertising shape the character of American women’s magazines? Did advertising dollars assure the health of these and other specialized magazines?

3. How can the mid 19th-century growth in women's magazines be explained?

4. Why did juvenile publications, religious ones in particular, flourish in the late 19th century?

5. What factors best account for the changes that appeared in popular and general magazines toward the end of the 19th century?

6. Were magazines essentially products of culture, literary vehicles, or eco¬nomic products?

7. How might historians use magazines to reconstruct the cultural contours of 19th-century America?

Chap. 14: The Development of Advertising, 1700-1900

The history of advertising as a part of the printed media can be traced back to the 17th century, and early in the 18th century ads began to appear in newspapers. Although much work remains to be done regarding the relationship between advertising and the mass media, inquiry into the historical record as it now stands can help one to grasp some of the fundamentals of that relationship.

1. What role did advertising play as a financial basis for early-19th-century newspapers?

2. Did P. T. Barnum play a role equal to that of industrial forces in changing 19th-century advertising?

3. Why did the nature of industrial change in the 19th century affect the nature of advertising in the press?

4. Were there diverse yet related cultural changes in late 19th-century America that affected advertising in the press?

5. Why did some late 19th-century press critics claim that advertising in the press had an "insidious" influence on journalism?

Chap. 15: The Emergence of Modern Media, 1900-1945

For historians of the early 20th century press, the paramount ques¬tion has been what determined the nature of the me¬dia. Progressive historians believed a class conflict between the rich and the masses was the essential factor, with wealthy owners too often subverting the press for their own benefit. Business historians argued to the contrary: that owners were men of high principle who had made major contributions to the quality of the press. Developmental historians tended to view changes in the press as a part of the natural progress of journalism, whereas Cultural historians reasoned that the nature of the media at any particular time was determined primarily by their environment.

1. How can the media of the period best be evaluated? (a) Did they lay the foundation for our modern concepts of journalism? (b) Were they primarily ideological instruments, controlled by conservative owners for their own benefit? (c) Or were the changes that took place primarily the result of powerful economic forces that transformed American society in general?

2. What role did individuals—as contrasted with great forces—play?

3. Were the owners themselves reactionary and interested only in profit, or were they also con¬cerned about making the news media more efficient and, as a re¬sult, better at performing the job of informing the public?

4. If the distinctive characteristic of the period was the increasing transformation of the media into big business, how does one account for the increasing professionalization and—some would say—liberalism of working journalists? How could both conservatism and liberal¬ism exist in the same field at the same time?

5. During the first half of the 20th century, how did women manage to play a larger role in journalism than they had previously, despite many barriers against them?

6. How did the early 20th-century cultural landscape influence the development of new mass media?

7. How did newspapers adjust to the appearance of new mass media?

8. What factors explain the growth of the African-American newspapers early in this century?

Chap. 16: The Media and Reform, 1900-1917

Among the various topics in media history, muckraking has at¬tracted the interest of more historians from outside mass communication than any other topic has. As a result, few topics have shown as much historiographical vitality as muckraking, and a number of questions central to the nature of muckraking remain the subjects of lively debate.

1. Were muckrakers, as the Progressive historians originally claimed, true liberal reformers with the correction of so¬cial ills foremost in their motives?

2. Is the view of Progressive historians overly romanticized be¬cause they agreed with the goals of the muckrakers?

3. Were muckrakers, as both Marxist and some Neo-Conservative historians argued, superficial in their understanding of problems and their proposals for solutions?

4. Is a Marxist critique valid in the face of the fact that the class struggle as proposed by Marxists never marked American history?

5. Were muckrakers really concerned, as Liberal historians have suggested, not primarily with solving problems but with re-establishing their position in society?

6. Is it possible for historians to apply psychoanalysis, which is the basis of the “status anxiety” the¬ory of Hofstadter and Mowry, to his¬torical subjects? If such analysis faces unreasonable dif¬ficulty, is there any basis for the status-anxiety explanation?

7. Were muckrakers—if they did base their motives and approaches on traditional values, as Liberal historians claimed—asserting principles, as some Neo-Conservative historians argued, that in the long run were the only truly effective means of bringing about reform?

Chap. 17: The Media and National Crises, 1917-1945

During the first half of the 20th century the nation and the media had to face some of the gravest crises in modern history. Media responses to these crises suggest basic questions about the relationship between the media and modern society and about the performance of the media in times of national emergency.

1. From what historical perspective does the author of the textbook chapter write? What is his ideological point of view?

2. Considering the enormity of the problems confronting the United States and the rest of the world during this period, how much consideration should be given to them when assessing the performance of the media?

3. Is it reasonable, as some journalist-historians have done, to evaluate the media by detached professional standards during such critical times? Or must historians assess media performance within the context of the time?

4. Similarly, is it proper for historians to critique media per¬formance, as some liberal historians have done, on the basis of liberal social ideology when such ideology was not the over-riding consideration for the media of the time?

5. When did the media during this modern critical period serve best—when they supported liberal ideology; when they joined the national effort to combat the problems the nation faced; or when they acted according to detached, professional news standards?

6. How, in the final analysis, are the media during the national crises of 1917-1945 to be judged: as advocates of social reform and liberal¬ism, as irresponsible and jingoistic propaganda tools, as a constructive force for combatting immense international threats to democracy, as servants of entrenched conservative interests, or as practitioners of high journalistic standards? How should media practitioners from 1917 to 1945 be judged—as dangerous propagandists, as constructive patriots, or as responsible professionals?

Chap. 18: Radio Comes of Age, 1900-1945

The history of American radio is still being written. In its compara¬tively short lifespan, it nevertheless has established itself as a legitimate and growing field of inquiry. As a result, new topics, methods, and interpretations have surfaced rapidly; and historians have raised a number of significant questions. The major questions fo¬cus on the essential nature of broadcasting and the development of the field.

1. Should broadcasting history be viewed mainly as the study of the origin, day-to-day practice, and progress of standard professional procedures and techniques? If not, how should it be viewed?

2. How appropriate is it to approach broad¬casting as just another form of journalism?

3. Since the Developmen¬tal approach gives special attention to the great individuals who contributed to radio practices, how would another interpretive per¬spective (such as the Cultural or Progressive view) affect the as¬sessment of those individuals?

4. How accurate were Progressive his¬torians in emphasizing economics as the primary factor in broadcasting history? How valid is it in any explanation of history to at¬tribute exclusive importance to any single factor?

5. How valid was the Progressive historians’ explaining such areas as broadcast ownership and regulation in terms of ideology? How did their own ideological viewpoints affect their explanation?

6. Aside from ideol¬ogy and economics, how accurate was Cultural historians’ view that the key to understanding radio was the relationship between radio and the surrounding environment?

7. How reasonable was their assumption that radio played a major influence in affecting the public’s attitudes and lifestyles? What type of evidence would be necessary for a historian to make such claims? Have Cultural historians done an adequate job of presenting the necessary evidence?

8. Along with such interpretive questions, historical study of radio also has raised a number of questions about the nature of historical research methods. How can the historian analyze oral and visual sources as primary documents? Is it possible to apply the methodology of print, rhetorical criticism, literary criticism, art, drama, or traditional history to the broadcast situation?

9. If the analysis of broadcast programming faces exceptional difficulties, what methods could be used?

10. If huge portions of broadcast material have been lost—as they have—how reasonable is it to expect that any historical study of radio will provide an accurate, credible explanation?

No comments:

Post a Comment