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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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14

“Quickening Urgency”1

The Telegraph and Wire Services in 1846–1893

Terhi Rantanen

ABSTRACT

This chapter argues that the history of wire services cannot only be written in a national context. In order to gain a fuller understanding of the origins of wire services and telegraph and submarine cables in any country, we need to include their relationships with their counterparts in other countries. Wire services, by their very nature, were interwoven with one another through the technology they used and across national boundaries. The chapter explores the early stages of development of the telegraph and wire services in the United States and Europe that led to monopolies that were all interconnected: the New York Associated Press's monopoly on the domestic news market, Western Union's hegemony on the US market, the European news cartel's monopoly on the world's news market, and the cable monopoly over the Atlantic submarine cable.

Pray give some news for New York; they are mad for news.

(Telegram from Newfoundland to Valentia, August 25, 1856; in Prescott, 1866, p. 198)

Journalism histories are mostly written using a national framework. As Schlesinger (1995) argues, media histories in general and the history of journalism in particular “have an overarching interest in showing how media institutions have contributed to the shaping of nationalist culture, economics and policy” (pp. 5–6, my emphasis). The writing of nationalized journalism histories is closely related to recent ...

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