Study Guide

History of American Journalism Timeline

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Dec 19, 1690

America's First Newspaper

America's first newspaper, Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestick, is published in Boston. The paper, able to fill only three of its four pages with text, suspends publication after one issue after drawing criticism from the colonial government.

Dec 19, 1769

First Printing Press of America

Isaac Doolittle of Connecticut builds the first printing press made on American soil.

Dec 15, 1791

First Amendment Ratified

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, expressly forbidding Congress from making any law "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press," is ratified.

Dec 19, 2019

Steam-driven Printing Press

Jonas Booth invents a steam-driven printing press, soon making the mechanical process of printing newspapers much more efficient and less costly.

Sep 3, 1833

First Edition of the New York Sun

Benjamin Day issues the first edition of the New York Sun, America's first "penny press" newspaper. The cheap paper, sold for a fraction of the cost of all earlier newspapers, soon attracts a much wider audience by catering to the interests of New York City's ordinary citizens.

May 6, 1835

First Edition of the New York Herald

James Gordon Bennett issues the first edition of the New York Herald, which will soon grow in popularity to become the country's most widely read newspaper. Bennett will introduce a number of innovations that will revolutionize the American news industry.

Apr 10, 1841

First Edition of the New York Tribune

Horace Greeley issues the first edition of the New York Tribune.

May 24, 1844

America's First Telegraph Line

America's first telegraph line, stretching from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore, officially opens for business. The instant long-distance communication offered for the first time by the telegraph will make it possible for local newspapers to offer timely coverage of far-off events.

Dec 19, 2019

Printing Contracts Vote

The United States Congress votes to award its printing contracts on a low-bid basis. Previously, these lucrative contracts have been distributed by the dominant party in Congress to loyal partisan papers as a form of patronage.

Dec 19, 2019

Four-cylinder Rotary Press

Robert Hoe invents a four-cylinder rotary press. This press culminates more than 20 years of improvements to the rudimentary cylinder presses developed in Europe. Hoe's press is capable of printing 8,000 pages per hour.

Dec 19, 2019

Forerunner of the Associated Press (AP)

The forerunner of the Associated Press (AP) is organized by a group of American publishers in order to acquire news information from Europe.

Dec 19, 2019

First Baseball Box Score

The first baseball box score, very similar to today's version, appears in the New York Clipper. Devised by Henry Chadwick, the box score allows newspapers across the country to provide standardized and succinct summaries of baseball games to a growing national audience.

Dec 19, 1883

Joseph Pulitzer Acquires the New York World

Joseph Pulitzer acquires the New York World from Jay Gould for $346,000.

Dec 19, 1887

William Randolph Hearst and the San Francisco Examiner

William Randolph Hearst is named editor of the San Francisco Examiner by his father, George Hearst, the paper's owner.

Dec 19, 1895

William Randolph Hearst Acquires the New York Morning Journal

William Randolph Hearst acquires the New York Morning Journal. He will transform the Morning Journal into a penny paper, modeled after James Gordon Bennett's New York Herald, and rename it the New York Journal in 1896.

Dec 19, 1897

First Color Sunday Funnies

The New York Journal, owned by William Randolph Hearst, publishes the first color Sunday funny papers.

Feb 15, 1898

USS Maine Sinks

The USS Maine sinks in Havana Harbor, Cuba. The New York Journal immediately blames Spain for the mysterious explosion, helping push the United States into war with Spain. (Most modern historians now believe the explosion to have been caused by a fire in the ship's coal bunkers spreading to the ammunition magazine.) Other journalists will condemn the Journal for its reckless and sensational distortion of the news as an example of "yellow journalism."

Dec 19, 2019

Boston American and the Los Angeles Examiner Launched

William Randolph Hearst launches the Boston American and the Los Angeles Examiner. He will eventually acquire or establish papers in almost every major American city. By 1930, he will own a media empire encompassing 28 newspapers across the country.

Oct 29, 1911

Joseph Pulitzer Dies

Joseph Pulitzer dies. In his will, he leaves Columbia University $2 million to establish a graduate school of journalism, one of the first in the country. He also bequeaths the funds for the establishment of the Pulitzer Prize. First awarded in 1917, Pulitzer Prizes are awarded annually, currently in 21 categories, to recognize achievements in journalism, literature, and music.

May 1, 1941

Citizen Kane Premieres

Citizen Kane, Orson Welles' scathing cinematic portrait of news baron William Randolph Hearst, premieres in New York City.

Jul 1, 1941

Commercial Broadcasting Begins

The Federal Communication Commission grants 18 television stations approval to begin commercial broadcasting. CBS and NBC begin broadcasting almost immediately, although few citizens own television sets to watch the broadcasts. Five months later, WCBW will demonstrate the news potential of television by broadcasting bulletins regarding the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Jun 13, 1971

First Installment of the "Pentagon Papers" Published

The New York Times publishes the first installment of the "Pentagon Papers," a series of classified government documents relating to the Vietnam War released to the Times by Daniel Ellsberg. President Richard Nixon will secure an injunction ordering the Times to cease publication of the document. On June 30th, 1971, the United States Supreme Court will declare the injunction an unconstitutional prior restraint.

Jun 1, 1971

Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, and Watergate

Young Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein are assigned to cover a mysterious burglary at the offices of the Democratic National Committee, located in Washington, D.C.'s Watergate Hotel. Through months of dogged investigative reporting, Woodward and Bernstein will eventually link the break-in to a "dirty tricks" campaign led by top advisers of President Richard Nixon.

Nixon's attempts to cover up the Watergate misdeeds will lead to his own resignation from office in disgrace in 1974. Woodward and Bernstein's account of the investigation, published in book form in 1974 as All the President's Men, helps to cultivate a heavily romanticized image of investigative reporters as undaunted truth-seekers. The 1976 film version of the story, starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, cements the reporters' status as iconic figures in the history of modern American journalism.

Dec 1, 1973

Rupert Murdoch Acquires the San Antonio Express-News

Australian media baron Rupert Murdoch acquires the San Antonio Express-News, the first American piece of his global media empire.

Dec 19, 1988

The Internet Opens

The internet, originally built as a project of the United States military, is opened to commercial users.

Dec 19, 2019

Craigslist Expands

Craigslist, the free online classified ad site, expands to its first new city outside its original home base of San Francisco. By 2008, Craigslist will serve more than 500 cities, hosting some 30 million postings every month. Meanwhile, newspaper classified ad sales—traditionally the most important source newspaper revenues—will plummet from $19 billion to $14 billion over that same span of time.

Dec 5, 2004

Digg Premieres

Digg, an innovative internet news aggregator that allows its users to determine which news stories are most important, is unveiled online.

May 9, 2005

Huffington Post Launched

The Huffington Post, an innovative internet news site that mixes professional news and opinion reporting with user-generated content, is launched. By September 2008, the HuffPo will become the largest independent political website on the internet, drawing more than 4.5 million unique visitors that month.

Aug 1, 2007

Rupert Murdoch Purchases Dow Jones & Co.

Australian-born media mogul Rupert Murdoch agrees to purchase Dow Jones & Co., the publisher of The Wall Street Journal—perhaps America's most prestigious newspaper, which previously has been run as a family business by the Bancroft family. Murdoch's purchase is controversial for several reasons. Some observers object to a foreigner owning such a critical institution in American culture. Others fear that the decided right-wing tilt of Murdoch's Fox News Channel property will be imposed upon the Journal, compromising its objectivity. And others simply lament the loss of the Journal's traditional independence.

Feb 7, 2008

Madison Capital-Times Ceases Print Publication

The Madison Capital-Times, a venerable newspaper founded in 1917, announces that it will cease publication of a print-version of its paper to concentrate fully on the development of its online edition.

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