Archive for March, 2010

Despite the high-tech world of media coverage today, the roots of the dissemination of national news began in the heart of the newspaper industry. Much like today’s news, journalists would investigate, analyze, and report stories for the benefit of the public. Competition has always been a reality in the news industry. My original focus centered around the newspaper wars of William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, the publishers of the New York World and Journal in the late 1800’s, respectively. Their cutthroat desire to come out on top, led to a massive strike in the dispersal of their papers. The figureheads raised newspaper prices, which enraged the newsboys, and therefore caused an uproar heard around New York City. With perseverance and conviction, the ‘newsies’ brought the tycoons to their knees, and resulted in a compromise. Pulitzer and Hearst would not lower newspaper prices, but they did agree to buy back unsold editions.

Historical incidences such as the ‘Newsie Strike of 1899’ prove that the newspaper industry has not always been a squeaky clean and straightforward assembly line. The grand and seemingly perfect world of print journalism is somewhat of an illusion. Finding the truth and reporting it is a messy business. One person’s truth may be a pile of biased garbage to another. And with the dwindling use of the tangible newspaper, print journalism has been forced to evolve and comply with the changing times. True, most of our grandparents still enjoy their Sunday morning paper and coffee… but the youth of the Information Age are consumed by technological advancement. 

Children no longer immerse themselves in the “funnies” world of Charles Schultz’ Peanuts or Jim Davis’ Garfield. Instead, the youth of the nation surf the internet for all of their immediate information. This harsh reality has molded my focus considerably. Why focus on one event of 1899, when the option to examine the evolution of news dispersal (from the printing press to modern-day blogging) lingers in the air? The innovation of citizen journalism and online blogging has set the precedent for all future generations. It is now possible for everyone to be a journalist, in a fashion. Anyone with a computer, keyboard, and internet access at their disposal has the option to publish their ideas. With this being said, information on the internet can be very unreliable. When a reader stumbles upon the blog of an amateur writer, it is not wise to believe the information presented until they locate references, citations, and credentials.

The World Wide Web is just that: a sticky and twisted network of information, available to the whole world. Nothing can be assumed and nothing can be trusted without the proper evidence to support it. These qualities shape the basic ethics of a print journalist. To contrast this, an internet blogger needn’t worry about format or citations. Blogs are informal, personal, and biased. With this in mind, can the media industry really afford to let the newspaper industry collapse in the wake of technological advancement? Can we be sure that any internet source is reliable, when no one can be sure who is behind the keyboard? True, falsehoods and bias often fill the pages of tangible newspapers as well… but maintaining a system of reliable publication that has been around for over a century could create a certain balance in the world of news.


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After having been shot down on several mediums with the “newsboy strike” search, I decided to switch up the wording and focus on a broader spectrum of “newspaper strikes.” Fortunately, this change led to a find that was very interesting.

Exploration Source: http://technorati.com/

Blog #1: “It’s Hard To Watch The Newsosaurs Turn A Blind Eye To Their Own Extinction” by Erick Schonfeld http://techcrunch.com/2010/03/12/newsosaurs-extinction/ 

The title immediately caught my eye. What exactly is a “Newsosaur?” This mythical dinosaur is a metaphor for the seemingly primeval beast that is the newspaper industry. Schonfeld, like many in our day and age, feels that the print industry has become increasingly obsolete in the past decade. Being a potential Journalism major myself, this information is somewhat disturbing, but I realize that there is truth to his logic. I am no stranger to the internet, nor online blogging and journalism. Most, if not all, of the information/news I obtain in a given day is achieved via the interwebs (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Google, etc.) I honestly cannot remember the last time I picked up a tangible newspaper. [Perhaps, it was during a search for a movie time?? But even Fandango.com has replaced that need now.]

The people who read print newspapers and magazines are getting older and older, while advertisers always chase the young and impressionable. That audience is already on the Web. And they are no longer satisfied with getting all of their news from one or two trusted sources. They get their news from all over the place: newspaper sites, TV news sites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook. More and more, the news is coming to them through their friends and the various streams they consume. The old days of cross-subsidizing political news with ads from the Travel and Auto sections are over.

Schonfeld goes on to discuss the audiences of both print newspapers and internet sources. True, internet blogs and periodicals are readily accessible to everyone capable of manipulating a mouse and computer screen, but will this medium of communication ever match the revenue achieved through the newspaper industry? Perhaps, patrons of the paper will dwindle into nothingness. Maybe internet sources will begin charging for blogging sites. Despite the inconvenience, users are usually willing to pay for what they want most.

Happening upon this blog has potentially altered my focus. Formerly, I was consumed the hardships endured by the New York newsboys of 1899. However, with a considerable lack of resources regarding this narrow topic, I may alter my focus into a Compare/Contrast format. This style would examine the journey of the written word from print newspapers to cyber internet blogs.

I would say this source is as reliable as a blog can be. Of course, it would never be as credible as an academic journal or book, but the author of this piece includes use of references and quotes: “Just yesterday, Allan Mutter, who writes the blog Reflections of a Newsosaur…”

Exploration Source: http://www.cuil.com/

(Proved to be a VERY useful tool for searching purposes!!)

Searching “newsboys strike” resulted in numerous articles which I could use as periodical sources. Using this search engine was much more effective than simply using Google. However, it did not provide me with many useful blogs required for this assignment. Each blog I came across was extremely redundant and nothing I have not seen before.

Blog #2:Movie Ads Move from Newspaper to Internet” by Apryl Duncan


This blog entry is considerably smaller than the first. Fortunately, it demonstrates one of my aforementioned points, regarding a switch from print newspaper to digital technology.

The number of movies advertised in the newspaper is down. The number of movies advertised on the Internet is up. Industry pros have been cutting back on newspaper ad spending because they feel the target audience of young males and females isn’t there. As Advertising Age reports, in the first half of this year alone, movie ad dollars spent on the Internet jumped 71.2 percent.”

As for the reliability of the blog is concerned, it does not demonstrate as much credibility as the former blog does. All that can be said about the author is that she is supposedly the “Former About.com Guide to Advertising.” I do like that it is short, sweet, and to the point. This small bit of information could fit into the Compare/Contrast style, if I so choose to follow that path.

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Though my focus (newsboy paper circulation circa 1899, NY)  is not a current event, it is my job to clear away the cobwebs and find the information that I require for this research assignment.

This first site that I searched through was http://www.pandia.com/news/.

#1 Article: “My Movie Crush: Christian Bale in ‘Newsiesby: Jen Yamato

[My chosen subject of research has proven to be difficult to, so I work with every source I find.]


Pandia.com did not provide as much as I would have hoped on the topic of newsboys, but it DID present an article, detailing the overall gist/plot of the Disney movie Newsies. This high-energy musical examines the hard work and strife that children of the working class went through, in late 1800s, New York. Children of mere six years of age combatted the forces of newspaper tycoons, Pulitzer and Hearst, in an effort to maintain low paper-buying prices. Despite the song/dance and fictitious nature of the story, it is mostly based in fact. The 1899 news strike did occur, but the band of brothers was not led by a dashing young actor of 20, Christian Bale, as the Disney flick portrays. Aside from the fan-girl appeal of this article entitled “My Movie Crush: Christian Bale in ‘Newsies’” it does contain some historical accuracies. For instance, the time frame, tyrannical tycoons, and location are all up to par, but the children of the age most likely did not break into song and dance on the streetcorners of the City.

The article originates from a site called ‘Cinematical’. The author, Jen Yamato, often posts blogs related to popular movies and cinematic moments that are important to her. Despite the colorful analysis of Newsies, the author is just a blogger. She presents little to no credibility in her blog, but her ideas are interesting to read.

I used http://news.google.com for my second search.

#2 Article: The Newsboys Strike of 1899 by Marquis Canaday


This article is far more credible than the first because it deals strictly with history, and is free of Disney-fied inaccuracies. Yellow Journalism is highlighted throughout the piece, which will definitely work its way into my final research paper. Canaday presents logical questions from the start of his article, including:

“There were many unethical and unprofessional practices during the end of the 19th century, but what would happen when sales from these daily papers began to dwindle down due to the lack of newsboys (also known as newsies or paperboys) out on the corner selling them? If the young boys stopped selling daily papers, would this lead the newspaper industry into pieces or would regular adults do the jobs of selling news papers?

His last question opens the door for brainstorming. Using this process of thinking will guide my thesis and aid me on my quest for more information, of this quality. Additionally, this writer is much more credible because he provides a reason for his posting:

I enjoy writing about subjects which deal with society in general, world history, U.S history, economics, sometimes finance, U.S laws, poetry and some political issues of the day.

Along with his educational background:

(Associates Degree; attended University of Detroit, Wayne State University and Wayne County Community College.)

This is much more reliable than a simple blogger. The author also provides notes at the end, for readers to verify his credibility. Note: http://www.geocities.com/estella2560/go_on_strike.html

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“It’s the hard-knock life for us!  ‘Stead treated, We get tricked! ‘Steada kisses, We get kicked! It’s the hard-knock life!”

In the words of little orphan Annie, it indeed was a ‘hard-knock life’ for the newsboys of 20th-century Chicago. This article focuses on the ‘newsie’ strikes of Chicago, Illinois in 1912. Despite a slight deviation in time and location of my topic, the information on this strike goes hand-in-hand with that of the New York newsboy’s strife. Following the example of their peers, the Chicagoans assembled to form a union against the publishers of their city newspapers. Media outlets such as the Chicago Tribune threatened to decrease newsie wages from 5 to 3 cents, daily. However, a severe cut in salary wasn’t the only thing that newsboys had to worry about.  Workers would take the city streets by storm, in the wee hours of the morning until dusk. These long hours were worked by boys and girls from four years of age! Also, the boys were formerly able to return unsold editions, for credit. Once this return privilege was revoked, workers pockets felt a little lighter. In an effort to desensitize the children, the higher-ups would offer:

“a variety of other inducements ranging from vacation trips and outings to newsboy sports leagues and marching bands sponsored by the Chicago Defender and the Chicago Daily News.”

This sort of article is a valuable resource, in background information. The library has a considerable lack of books based upon my chosen topic, so academic articles like this one will be paramount in my research. While searching through Lied Library’s Encore system, I searched through the database with terms (newsboys, 1800’s, child labor, and New York) in mind. The Academic Search Premier (EBSCO Host) enabled me to narrow down my search from every book on campus to every article available. Sadly, any information on the New York newsboys strike was unavailable, so I chose the next best thing: “Crumbs from the Publishers’ Golden Tables: the plight of the Chicago Newsboy.” Along with historical background information, this article enables me to compare the struggle of the New York newsboys to the Chicago newsboys. Comparison and contrast is tool which may engage the reader of my research paper. The fact that the east-coat children influenced the Midwesterners is a phenomenal detail, which I would like to investigate further. The author, Jon Bekken, also cites a plethora of sources, via footnotes and work cited. It is comforting to know that this article is credible because this is the first real that I can use in my research. Hopefully, I will be able to find other sources on my topic that are as intriguing and useful as this one.


Crumbs from the Publishers’ Golden Tables: the plight of the Chicago newsboy. Full Text Available By: Bekken, Jon. Media History, Jun2000, Vol. 6 Issue 1, p45-57, 13p; DOI: 10.1080/13688800050029406; (AN 3807804)

Database: Academic Search Premier

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During my search through Lied Library, I found two books: Joseph Pulitzer and His World by J.W. Barrett & Children At Work by Lewis W. Hine. After having narrowed down my topic to (the circulation of newspapers via newsboys of the late 1800’s)… I felt these two books would give me a glimpse into this era.

The first book, Joseph Pulitzer and His World, is a biography on the editor of the New York World. This source will allow me to become further educated on the mastermind behind the innovation that is the newspaper. He, along with William Randolph Hearst, competed for the attention of New York’s readers. This book summarizes Pulitzer’s achievements and struggles throughout his life.

The second book is nothing like the first. It is composed entirely of pictures of children of the time. These children were members of the working class, and each photograph shows the harsh reality of their occupations. Dirtied, and worked to the bone… these children were forced to grow up at an early age. Ranging from ages 5-14, they lined the city streets selling newspapers, worked in large factories, and sometimes mined coal. This book illustrates the working conditions of the ‘newsies’ and will be beneficial in my depiction of their daily lives.

Lied library lacks many of the sources that I require on the subject of ‘newsies’… but these two books are a decent starting point, in my research.

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Upon my second search through Google & Google Scholar, I found two articles which piqued my interest. The first Google source is entitled “Carrying the Banner: The Portrayal of the American Newsboy Myth in the Disney Musical Newsies.” Despite an off topic analysis of Disney film, this article featured important historical background.


Summary: Despite the moans and groans of the 1899 newsboys, newspaper giants refused to reduce wholesale prices for their respective newspapers. This decision led to a ground-breaking strike against Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst (editors of New York World and New York Journal), led by an infuriated youth.

The author, Assistant Professor (Stephen Siff”) of Miami University, highlights the struggle of the newsboy and compares  it to the sugar-coated symbolism of Disney’s film, Newsies. I believe this source to be reliable because it was written by an Assistant Professor, with a background in Journalism. Are there articles with more reliability? Sure. But this article was interesting and it contained numerous footnotes and citations.

The Google Scholar source, “Extra! Extra! You Can’t Read All About It!,” written by History 122 student (Matt Brent) is also a brief history of the subject.


Summary: Editors of the World and the Journal feverishly competed to win over New York readers, with enthralling headings and persuasive newsboys.

This source only briefly references Disney’s Newsies. I like how this source establishes a more in depth analysis of the subject, as opposed to wholly analyzing Disney’s film. However, this source is not as reliable as the former source because it was written by a college student, as opposed to an Assistant Professor. Also, Brent does not include as many citations for later referencing.

As a whole, these two sources were quite informative in a historical respect, but Google’s “Carrying the Banner: The Portrayal of the American Newsboy Myth in the Disney Musical Newsies” is a much more useful and credible source.

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