I’m thoroughly enjoying “Covering America” and learning a lot. Now reading about the “penny press” pioneers.
Interesting that, of the “First Big Three,” if you will - Benjamin Day (The Sun), Horace Greeley (New York Tribune) and James Gordon Bennett (New York Herald), the one who started it all, Day, is the least known. Well, I should say, I knew about Greeley and Bennett, but nothing about Day. And a google search bears this out.
Day, Daly writes, “began a revolution when he started publishing his newspaper, The Sun, in New York City.” The Sun became the pioneer of the penny press. Day’s dailies were a nickel cheaper and featured crime reports and human-interest stories. His readers ate up what would become known as “sensationalism.” Day also dropped the model of favoring a political party. The Sun became the best-selling newspaper in the world.
The origins of the Associated Press are also interesting. Moses Yale Beach, Day’s brother-in-law, “invited his rivals to join him in a cooperative venture, sharing costs and sharing news dispatches.” These agreements led to the founding of The Associated Press.
Daly also notes that the history of The AP is not much known. One reason is that the newspapers have been reluctant to give these reporters their due.
It’s interesting this seems to be true to this day. For example, Benjamin Freed wrote a piece earlier this week about a proposed sci-fi museum in D.C. When I googled sci fi museum dc, the Washingtonian link did not come up on the first page.
Of course, I rob too, so it’s a reminder to all of us to do a better job with by-line recognition and link providing.