Julie with a B

Sunday, December 26, 2004
It is just the news
How do we get news? Way back when, travelers brought news of friends and relatives when they went from one village to another, or perhaps when they traveled into a town to purchase supplies. News was passed by word of mouth, often from those who witnessed the events. Those with cash to spare would often pay travelers for news of other places, perhaps for the doings of their friends, enemies, or kings. Balladeers would set events to music in order to remember the names and places involved more easily. Letters were written by scribes and sent by messenger and read, often once again by a scribe, to someone at a distance from events. The printing press was invented, the ability to read became more common and printed broadsides, newsletters, and magazines became a way of spreading the news and information. In each of these cases, the news contained was deemed reliable by the proximity of the writer to the events, or the good name and reputation of the writer.

I have a page from the “New England Journal – Containing the moft Remarkable Occurrences Foreign & Domeftck.” published Monday April 8, 1728, Boston. The first paragraph is: “There are Measures concerting for rendring this Paper yet more universally esteemed, and useful, in which ‘tis hop’d the Publick will be gratifi’d, and by which those Gentlemen who desire to be improv’d in History, Philosophy, Poetry, &c. Will be greatly advantaged. We will take the liberty at this to insert the following Passage of History.” The “History” referred to isn’t a long time previous but events that occurred during the prior year in London. The article ends with a listing of those moving out of the city and the location they had moved to, as well as obituaries and then several advertisements. Not much different than our newspapers today, except that perhaps events are published a little more timely.

HOWEVER, as noted above, the acceptance of the news related depended either on knowing the teller, or on the good name and reputation of the writer. Clearly, the MSM of today has lost our trust in re: good name and reputation. Interesting that we have returned to the beginning! We are more likely to trust the news of those we perceive as having actually witnessed the events or have traveled to the locations involved, hence the reliance on blogs from around the world, from those who are there.


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