Senin, 19 Desember 2011

Print Media

The book        
The history of modern media begins with the printed book – certainly a kind of revolution, yet initially only a technical device for reproducing the same, or rather a similar, range of texts to what was already being extensively copied by hand. Only gradually does printing lead to change in content – more secular, particular and popular works (especially in the vernacular languages), as well as political and religious pamphlets and tracts – which played a part in the transformation of the medieval world. Thus there occurred a revolution of society in which the book played an inseparable part.
The early newspaper
It was almost two hundred years after the invention of printing before what we now recognize as a prototypical newspaper could be distinguished from the handbills, pamphlets and newspaper of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Its chief precursor seems, in fact to have been the letter rather than the book – newsletter circulating through the rudimentary postal service, concerned especially with transmitting news of event relevant to international trade and commerce. It was thus an extension into the public sphere of an activity which had long taken place for governmental, diplomatic or commercial purposes. The early newspaper was marked by its regular appearance, commercial basis (openly for sale), multiple purpose (for information, record, advertising, diversion, and gossip) and public or open character. 
            The seventeenth-century commercial newspaper was not identified with any single source but was a compilation made by a printer-publisher. The official variety (as published by Crown or government) show some of the same characteristic but was also a voice of authority and an instrument of state. The commercial paper was the form which has given most shape to the newspaper institution, and its development can be seen in retrospect as a major turning point in communication history – offering first of all a service to its anonymous reader rather than an instrument to propagandist or potentates.
            In a sense the newspaper was more of an innovation than the printed book – the invention of a new literary, social and cultural form – even if it might not have been so perceived at the time. Its distinctiveness compared to other form of cultural communication, lies in its individualism, reality orientation, utility, secularity and suitability for the needs of a new class: town-based business and professional people. Its novelty consist not in its technology or manner of distribution, but in its function for a distinct class in a changing and more liberal social-political climate.
The letter history of the newspaper can be told either as a series of struggles, advances and reverses in the cause of liberty or as a more continuous history of economic and technological progress. The most important phases in press history which enter into the modern definition of the newspaper are described in the following paragraphs. While separate national histories differ too much to tell a single story, the elements mentioned, often intermingling and interacting, have generally been factors in the development of the press institution to a greater or lesser degree.
The press as adversary          
From its beginning, the newspaper was an actual or potential adversary of established power, especially in its own self-perception. Potent images in press history refer to violence done to printers, editors and journalists. The struggle for freedom to publish, often within a broader movement for freedom, democracy and citizen rights, is emphasized. The part played by underground presses under foreign occupation or dictatorial rule has also been celebrated. Established authority has often confirmed this self-perception of the press by finding it irritating and inconvenient (although also often malleable and, in the extreme, very vulnerable to power).
            There also been a general progression historically towards more press freedom, despite major setbacks from time to time. This progress has sometimes taken the form of greater sophistication in the means of control applied to the press. Legal restraint replaced violence, the fiscal burdens were imposed (and later reversed). Now institutionalization of press within a market system serves as a form of control, and the modern newspaper, as a large business enterprise, is vulnerable to more kinds of pressure or intervention than its simpler forerunners were.
Rise of newspaper-reading public   
The extension of newspaper reach to the ‘masses’, beyond the circle of an educated elite or business class, is a familiar feature of press history in many countries, although the causes are disputed (Williams, 1958). Improved technology, rising literacy, commerce, democracy and popular demand all played a part and they largely coincided in their timing. Few countries experienced majority penetration by the newspaper until well into the twentieth century, and there are still large variation in rates of newspaper reading between countries at the same level of of development. In assessing the significance of the rise of the newspaper, we should distinguish between the growing market penetration of the commercial press (as a vehicle for advertising and entertainment) and the reading of the newspaper for mainly political purposes. The enhanced role of the newspaper in political movements or at times of national crisis is also a striking feature of press history.
The political press    
It is not surprising that the newspaper should often have been used as an instrument for party advantage and political propaganda. On common form of the newspaper was the party-political paper dedicated to the task of activation, information and organization. This type is now largely unknown in North America and has been in general decline else-where for some time (although alive once more in Central and Eastern Europe). The party newspaper has lost ground to commercial press forms, fun and has been able to appeal more readers more of the time. The idea of party press, even so, still has its place as a component in democratic politics. Where it does survive in Europe (and there are examples elsewhere), it is typically independent from the state (though possibly subsidized), professionally produced, serious and opinion-forming in purposes. In these aspects it is not far removed from the prestige liberal newspaper, but its uniqueness lies in the attachment of its readers by way of party allegiance, its sectionalism and its mobilizing function for party objectives.
The prestige press
The late-nineteenth-century bourgeois newspaper was a high point in press history and contributed much to our modern understanding of what a newspaper is or should be. The ‘high-bourgeois’ phase of press history, from about 1850 to the turn of the century, was the product of several events and circumstances: the triumph of the liberalism and the absence or ending of direct censorship or fiscal constraint; the emergence of a progressive capitalist class and several new professions, thus forging a business-professional establishment; and many social and technological changing favoring the risk of a national or regional press of high information quality.
The chief features of the new prestige or ‘elite’ press which was established in this period were: formal independence from the state and form vested interests; recognition as a major institutions of political and social life (especially as a self-appointed former of opinion and voice of the ‘national interest’); a highly developed sense of social and ethical responsibility and the rise of journalistic profession dedicated to the objective reporting of events. Many current expectations about what a ‘quality’ newspaper is still reflect several of these ideas and provide the basis for criticisms of newspaper which deviate from the ideal, by being either too partisan or too ‘sensational’.
Commercialization of the newspaper press
The mass newspaper has been called ‘commercial’ for two main reasons: it is operate for profit by monopolistic concerns, and its heavily dependent on product advertising revenue (which made it both possible and advantageous to develop a mass readership). The commercial aims and underpinnings of the mass newspaper have exerted considerable influence on content, in the direction of political populism as well as support for business, consumerism and free enterprise (Curran, 1986; Curran and Seaton, 1988). For present purposes, it is more relevant to see, as a result of commercialization, the emergence of a new kind of newspaper: lighter and more entertaining, emphasizing human interest, more sensational in its attention to crime, violence, scandals and entertainment, and having a very large readership in which lower-income and lower-education groups are overrepresented (Hughes, 1940; Schudson, 1978; Curran et al., 1981).
            While this way now appear to be the dominant (in the sense of the most read) newspaper form in many countries, it still effectively derives its status as a newspaper from the ‘high-bourgeois’ form (especially by claiming to give current political and economic information), although it is otherwise most clearly defined by its contrast with the prestige newspaper.


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