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Exercise 1-2
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From Gutenberg to the World Wide Web


A. Review images of newspapers that appear in the first chapter of the book. How can you characterize changes in the visual look of papers over the course of time?

B. Think about the freedoms the press enjoys as a result of the Zenger trial. What might the contemporary United States be like if these freedoms somehow had not been established? After looking at your daily newspaper, name three examples of reporting that might not have been possible without Zenger.

C. Reread the excerpts of Isaiah Thomas' reporting on the Revolutionary War. Then find and read an example of war reportage from a contemporary news source.
  1. In what ways are the two stories similar? What differences do you notice?
  2. What does it mean in the context of journalism to be partisan?
  3. What forms of partisan journalism do Americans experience today?

D. Reread the section of this chapter that deals with William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer.
  1. What is your initial reaction to the description of the struggle between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst?
  2. As bad as the age of yellow journalism was, it played an important role in the evolution of the modern press. What do you imagine are some of the outgrowths, both positive and negative, of the sensationalism practiced by Hearst and Pulitzer?

E. One of the greatest muckrakers of the early 20th century was H.L. Mencken, a self-described gadfly. Conduct some research on Mencken. For what is he remembered most? Do you think he would be successful in contemporary American journalism? Why or why not?

F. Reread Joseph Pulitzer's journalistic credo:

"Our Republic and its press will rise or fall together. An able, disinterested, public-spirited press, with trained intelligence to know the right and courage to do it, can preserve that public virtue without which popular government is a sham and a mockery. A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself. The power to mould the future of the Republic will be in the hands of the journalists of future generations."

  1. What do you think Pulitzer meant by the words "able, disinterested, public-spirited press" in the second sentence?
  2. How about "cynical, mercenary, demagogic press" in the third sentence?
  3. Do you think our contemporary American press leans more toward the former or the latter? What makes you think so?
  4. In your experience, which medium (newspaper, magazine, television, radio, Internet) is best described by "able, disinterested, public-spirited"? Which is best described by "cynical, mercenary, demagogic"?
  5. Visit the Web site for the Pulitzer Prize ( After browsing through the listings of winners of the Pulitzer Prizes for the past few years, do you find the opinion you expressed in your answer to Question 3 has changed? If yes, in what way?

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