Posted by: jbunn | July 13, 2009

Populists and Pennies

Upon reading Populists and Pennies, I started to see a few parallels between current and Penny Press news. Penny Press news began when newspaper companies began to mass produce, and reach a broader audience, and papers could be sold for a penny, much less than ever before. With modern news available on the internet and on blogs, news can be distributed for free. During the Penny Press, many newspapers ran gossip stories and stories about the arts, which sold more papers and brought in a larger profit.

Today, most “news sources” contain a lot of information that could fall under the “gossip” category. I use the word “news sources” to describe any lotion news can be found (, the Washington Post, Fox News,, the Daily Show, Time Magazine, etc). A lot of the “gossip” is about the lives of celebrities/artists. Also found in the news is sensational crime and court coverage, similar to Bennett’s exposes in the 1830s. Eventually it caught on that the more exciting the news coverage, the more successful the paper.

While the Penny Press may have occurred at a time of tremendous growth for America, the advancements in technology and communication allowed the media to change the way it did. Technological advancements like the telegraph allowed messages to be spread across distant locations at that fastest rate to that point in history. This allowed news to be spread even faster. While our country may not be in a time of growth comparative to the early 1800s, the technology that exists has today has been growing at an exponential rate. The ability to produce news on the internet makes it so that news can re reported on and accessed 24/7. It is always changing, and yet the most recent events are always accessible globally within moments of the events. And the cost of reading the news is generally free.


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