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History of American Journalism

History of American Journalism

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James Gordon Bennett in History of American Journalism

James Gordon Bennett (1795-1872) was the founder and editor of the New York Herald, the city's most popular penny paper for much of the nineteenth century. Born in Scotland, Bennett moved first to Halifax in 1819, and then to Boston and Charleston before settling in New York. He worked on several newspapers before launching the New York Herald in 1835.

Bennett modeled the Herald after the New York Sun, which had published its first paper in 1833. Both papers sold for only a penny, depended on street-corner sales by newsboys rather than subscriptions, and covered stories that the established papers had deemed inappropriate. The Herald provided extensive coverage of the more sensational, entertaining, and sometimes sordid side of urban life, focusing particular attention on crime, scandal, sports, and political corruption.

Bennett's wildly popular paper was imitated throughout America. He also introduced structural innovations at the Herald that were equally influential among American newspapers. He assigned his reporters to specific beats, he opened the first American press bureau in Europe, and he was among the first editors to make extensive use of the telegraph to convey news information.

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