History of Newspapers

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The History of Newspapers Today, people can use newspapers to find out many things. One can use the newspaper to check sports scores, get the day's news, read "feel good" stories, or even find out their horoscope. It was not always that way. From the "Acta Diurna," reported in the ancient Roman empire, to the New York
Times, newspapers have come a long way. In this report, the distance that newspapers have traveled since their inception is going to be outlined. Before literacy was commonplace in societies, town criers would announce the news of the land to the land's people. These criers used oratory skills to spread the news on crossroads and the marketplace. Messengers would be commissioned to report to the
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In 1704, John Campbell started the "Boston Newsletter." This became
America's first regularly printed newspaper. This paper paved the way for newspapers to develop all throughout the colonies. As the colonies attempted to steer away from England, newspapers became an outlet for anti-England propaganda. Along with these papers came articles that was critical of the government and subsequently cases of libel were developed. One very important case was the Zenger trial. John Peter Zenger began the "New York Weekly Journal" in 1733 and his newspaper printed some articles against the colony and its Governor, William
Cosby. After a speech by Alexander Hamilton, Zenger was found not guilty by the jury and this was a crucial step toward freedom of the press. After the revolution, newspapers needed something else to criticize, so journalists criticized people affiliated with the "wrong" political party. Freedom of the press was guaranteed in 1787 in the Bill of Rights but there was a threat of war with France. Federalists needed to squelch the
Republican writings done in newspapers, so they passed the Sedition Act in
The Sedition Act was the most significant threat to freedom of the press. It stated that "any false, scandalous and malicious writing against the
United States, with intent to...bring them...into contempt or disrepute."
There were at least fifteen convictions.
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