Effects of Newspapers in the 19th Century

Effectsof Newspapers in the 19thCentury

Theimportance of literary works cannot be gainsaid as far as the growthand development of the human society is concerned. Indeed, a largeproportion of progress that has been made in the contemporary humansociety is directly attributed to literary works. Of particular noteis the fact that there are numerous types of literary works, althoughtheir aim traverses the varied types. More often than not, literaryworks are used in educating individuals, as well as entertaining andinforming them. Of course, newspapers tend to lean much more onentertainment and informing. Usually they incorporate the newspertaining to the issues of the day and increasingly encompassentertainment segments, opinion articles, as well as articles thatshape the ideas of people in the short-term and the long-term.Needless to say, some newspapers have been around for a number ofyears or even centuries, weathering the storm that has characterizedthose days to the extent of getting stronger than ever. Of course,the path that these newspapers took may be credited to the pioneersor their founders as they lay the ground for the determination of theappropriate ways of dealing with issues in both the long-term and theshort-term, thereby enabling them to remain relevant not only intheir formative years but also across the generations. Perhaps one ofthe most recognizable figures in the 19thcentury would be Alexander Hamilton, who is considered the foundingfather for New York Post in 1801. While there may be differingopinions, it is evident that the newspaper has had both positive andnegative effects on the human society.

First,it should be acknowledged that newspapers allowed for enhanceddissemination of information pertaining to the issues that wereplaguing the society at that time. Since its inception on 16thNovember 1801, the New York Post began publishing on a daily basisunlike any other newspaper that was already publishing at that time(Jones53).This was all aimed at dissemination of information pertaining to theoccurrences of the day in varied parts of the country. Of particularnote is the fact that the newspapers were distributed even in areaswhere they were previously not commonly taken, all in an effort tomake profits and increase the strength or share of the paper (Jones68).The wide reach of the newspapers, therefore, increased thedissemination of ideas.

Inaddition, newspapers resulted in the opening up of rural areas. Thiswas not only through the dissemination of information to these areasbut also the incorporation of stories pertaining to the rural areasin the newspaper. In an effort to obtain content for the newspaper ona daily basis, New York Post would incorporate information that wasgiven a wide berth by the mainstream media or existing newspapers(Hodkinson49).This meant giving rural areas a platform where their issues could beshared and outlined. Of course, this drew interest from people acrossthe states and in the entire country to visit the areas and perhapssettle in there or even establish some businesses in the areas. This,with no doubt, resulted in increased growth and development. Ofparticular note is the fact that investors of any kind are alwayslooking for information about opportunities that abide in any part ofthe country, in which case newspapers filled the gap and allowed forthe increased growth and development of these areas (Hodkinson49).Using the information that was provided in the newspapers, investorscould determine the business opportunities that existed in the areas,as well as the needs of the people within certain locations. Thisallowed them to come up with customized solutions for the identifiedproblems in the societies that had been identified in the localnewspaper.

Further,newspapers may be credited with increased integration of communitiesand groups of people across the areas that were served. More oftenthan not, individuals in different ethnic and racial groups keep tothemselves simply because they are not clear about the likes andpreferences of the other racial or ethnic groups within thelocalities (Grossberg69).Indeed, it is common for them to make assumptions about other groupsof people, thereby increasing the possibility for conflicts. Ratherthan interact and have conflicts, it was more preferable that theindividuals maintain their distance, something that hampered thepossibility for integration and peace. With the entry of New YorkPost, however, it was easy to learn about other people and the lawsthat applied in particular areas (Marvin56).On the same note, it was easy to determine the occurrences in aparticular area so as to have a clear idea of the safe places tovisit. More often than not, interactions with individuals in otherparts of the country necessitated that individuals become well versedwith the occurrences of those areas, as it is the only way of makinga formidable contribution to the debates with people from such areas.The only way that an individual could have such information was bybeing well attuned to the occurrences of that locality and seekinginformation from the newspapers at that time (Dijck95).It is acknowledged that the New York Post was the only newspaper thatwas publishing on a daily basis, in which case it is safe to statethat it was the only newspaper that had the highest likelihood ofhaving comprehensive information pertaining to the occurrences inevery part of the country. In this case, it enhanced or fosteredintegration between individuals from varying parts of the country.

Onthe same note, the newspaper could have been instrumental ininforming calls for abolition. As much as Abraham Lincoln may havesigned the abolitionist policies some years earlier, it was upon thenews media to make the United States citizens accustomed to the wayof life where former slaves were seen as free individuals who had thecapacity to make decisions regarding their way of life. Of course,this was done through the hiring of recognized poet and abolitionistWilliam Cullen Bryant as the editor (Carruthers36).This not only raised the profile of the New York Post, which at thattime was called the New York Evening Post, but also ensured thatissues pertaining to slavery and abolition of the same were givenblanket condemnation. Of course, this is one of the major socialchanges that the newspaper may have brought about to the society atthat time. It goes without saying that newspapers have a bearing onthe manner in which the readers perceive certain issues in thesociety depending on the way in which they are depicted or discussedin the long-term (Campbellet al 46).It is in this regard that the newspaper took in William Leggett, theLocofoco Democrat as a writer to the paper. Leggett usually madepolitical editorials outlining his philosophy of classicalliberalism, which revolved around a fierce fight against centralbanking, dedication to the laissez-faire economics, as well assupport for voluntary labor unions (Straubhaaret al 85).These ideas were imbued onto the readers as a way of not onlyinforming them about the need for a social change but also makingthem ambassadors of the change in both the short-term and thelong-term. It is the provision of such information by the newspaperthat allows for the agitation of individuals for a change in the waysof doing things and the policies by which they live or that guidetheir conduct in the society.

However,there are some negative effects that the newspapers may haveinstigated on the American society. Indeed, scholars have underlinedthe fact that partisan nature of American politics and thedisintegration that plagues the American society is directlyattributed to newspapers alongside other news media (Carruthers40).This comes out clearly especially when one examines the history ofthe New York Post and the reasons why it was created in the firstplace. It may be acknowledged that Hamilton himself was specificabout ensuring that the co-investors that were involved in theestablishment of the New York Post were members of the FederalistParty including Oliver Walcott and Robert Troup. These wereindividuals that were dismayed by Thomas Jefferson’s election asthe president of the United States, as well as the increase in theDemocratic-Republican Party’s popularity in the country (Straubhaaret al 87).Of course, this implied that the newspaper was aimed at pushing forcertain agendas, which was demonstrated by giving some storiesprominence in terms of the space that was given to them or even theheadlines. Stories that were not in line with the agenda of theFederalist Party were rarely considered for publishing no mattertheir importance to the audience or the country at large (Campbellet al 46).On the other hand, stories that would portray the party in good lightwere give prominence while sacrificing substance. This could be themajor reason for the immense divisions among individuals in theUnited States along political lines. It is noted that a largeproportion of stories that the newspapers imbued lopsided reporting.

Inconclusion, newspapers have been a fundamental component of the humansociety, charged with the responsibility of ensuring that individualsget factual and accurate information pertaining to the issues of theday. Like other forms of literary works, newspapers are aimed atinforming their audiences about some fundamental issues plaguing thesociety, educating them about the same, as well as calling them intoaction against some spelt out ills that plague the society andprevent its advancement. This is the case for the New York Post,which was started as New York Evening Post in 1801 by AlexanderHamilton. It is evident that the newspaper has had both positive andnegative effects on the society especially in the 19thcentury where it filled an information-gap. It goes without sayingthat the society was much better off with the disseminatedinformation as it allowed for increased opening up of rural areas andintegration of individuals from different parts of the country.However, its relatively partisan politics may have resulted infurther disintegration of the society.

WorksCited

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