A History of News: 2from the Drum to the Satellite

Mitchell Stephens, Author
Mitchell Stephens, Author Viking Books $24.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-670-81378-0
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
Humankind has always been interested in news, notes New York University journalism professor Stephens, and in this impressive work he shows how that interest has been satisfied. Although it is impossible to provide examples of the oral transmission of news from preliterate societies before the third millennium B.C., the author demonstrates it in action among primitives in the 19th and 20th centuries. Thence he moves to handwritten news, sometimes in personal letters, sometimes in public notices, like the acta posted and copied in ancient Rome and the newsletters written in Renaissance Venice, which were the immediate predecessors of newspapers. News in print followed quickly after the invention of movable type and newspapers proliferated, until they began to be supplemented, if not supplanted, by the electronic media. This solid history is made even more absorbing by such sidelights as the universal fascination with gossip, gore and the supernatural and trenchant observations about the relationship between society and the news it consumes. (September)
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