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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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9

Journalism History: North America

Richard Kaplan

ABSTRACT

Newspapers emerged in colonial British North America in the early 1700s. By the time the first muskets were fired in the American revolt against King George III in 1775, a powerful new cultural imagining of the press's central role in the public debates of citizens and the functioning of modern democracy defined journalism. Newspapers were seen as essential to liberty, spreading information and opinion among “free-born citizens.” Indeed, across three centuries this notion of the press's service to a broad deliberating public has permanently informed and justified the press's public mission, its political rhetoric, and its claims to special authority in the contentions of the democratic public sphere. From partisan journals to independent, professional dailies, from small struggling print shops to giant media conglomerates, from a few pages of cotton rag to today's electronic websites, a public ethic of service to democracy has informed the North American press's proudest moments and rationalized its worst practices.

Newspapers emerged in colonial British North America in the early 1700s. By the time muskets were first fired in the North American revolt against King George III in 1775, a powerful new cultural imagining of the press's central role in the public debates of citizens and the functioning of modern democracy defined journalism. Newspapers were seen as essential to liberty, spreading information and opinion ...

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