Cover image for The Golden Age of the newspaper
The Golden Age of the newspaper
Douglas, George H., 1934-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiii, 300 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Reading Level:
1290 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN4864 .D68 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



From the arrival of the penny papers in the 1830s to the coming of radio news around 1930, the American newspaper celebrated its Golden Age and years of greatest influence on society. Born in response to a thirst for news in large eastern cities such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, the mood of the modern metropolitan papers eventually spread throughout the nation. Douglas tells the story of the great innovators of the American press--men like Bennett, Greeley, Bryant, Dana, Pulitzer, Hearst, and Scripps. He details the development of the bond between newspapers and the citizens of a democratic republic and how the newspapers molded themselves into a distinctly American character to become an intimate part of daily life.

Technological developments in papermaking, typesetting, and printing, as well as the growth of advertising, gradually made possible huge metropolitan dailies with circulations in the hundreds of thousands. Soon journalism became a way of life for a host of publishers, editors, and reporters, including the early presence of a significant number of women. Eventually, feature sections arose, including comics, sports, puzzles, cartoons, advice columns, and sections for women and children. The hometown daily gave way to larger and impersonal newspaper chains in the early twentieth century. This comprehensive and lively account tells the story of how newspapers have influenced public opinion and how public demand has in turn affected the presentation of the news.

Author Notes

GEORGE H. DOUGLAS is Professor of English at the University of Illinois. A Jersey native, his father was a long-time writer and editor at the Newark Evening News . As a boy Douglas was an inveterate visitor to the paper's city room and was awed by the roar of the rotary presses. He is the author of eleven books and many dozens of articles, mostly dealing with American literature and social history. Among his books are The Early Days of Radio Broadcasting , H. L. Mencken: Critic of American Life , All Aboard: The Railroad in American Life , Skyscraper Odyssey , and The Smart Magazines .

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-A history of U.S. newspapers from the arrival of the penny papers in 1830 to the height of the industry's publishing in the early 1930s. Douglas attributes the onset of radio to the fading of newspapers as a social force. This browsable volume offers readers glimpses of the men and women who made American journalism the crass, clumsy, down and dirty, but always exciting medium it remains today. Of course there are chapters on Horace Greeley and James Gordon Bennett, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, Charles Dana, and women in the pressroom (especially Nellie Bly). Chains; tabloids; the rise of the New York Times; and that glorious oddity of nature, tobacco, and gin-the reporter-are covered as well. Douglas seems to be prejudiced in favor of newspapers as a form of news delivery as opposed to television. He also suggests that today's TV journalism is more homogenized than the homogeneous press of that golden age of newspaper past-an argument that seems both specious and nostalgic. The illustrations are few, but interesting, and the writing, though stiff, is clear and easy to skim. Edwin Emery's The Press and America (Allyn & Bacon, 1995) and Frank L. Mott's American Journalism (Macmillan, 1962; o.p.) covers the same material, but Douglas may be the only one to do it in under 300 pages.-Herman Sutter, Saint Agnes Academy, Houston, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Penny Papers: The Printed Word for Democratic Man
The Quest for a Real Newspaper Giants of a New AgeJames Gordon Bennett and Horace Greeley
Newspapers Move West Ferment in the South
The Civil War
The Indispensability of News Dana and the New York Sun
The News Story as Art Newspapers in the Gilded Age
Dangerous Crossroads: Pulitzer and Hearst
The Rise of the New York Times Of Evenings, and Sundays, and Funnies, and Such Newspaper Chains and Press Associations
Fantasy and Reality: The Newspaper Reporter
When the Women Marched in The Newspaper Saga: From Our Town to Olympus
The Foreign Language Press Tabloids
A Bright and Shining Moment