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The Form of News: A History

The newspaper has always been a privileged form of communication in the United States. Law accords it a seriousness often denied other media, and popular culture endorses its power to expose and enlighten. Why are newspapers seen as instruments of democracy? How do they succeed or fail in their mission? And how does the experience of reading them shape our identity as citizens? This book offers a fresh perspective on the history of newspapers in the United States. Although most scholars think the newspaper works through its content, this history looks deeper into form: ways of writing; systems of organization; and genres of presentation, including typography, space, and pictures. Richly illustrated with archival material, the book traces the changing "look" of the news from the Revolutionary era to the present day. It explores both how we see newspapers and how newspapers imagine us -- as citizens, voters, consumers, and spectators.
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. The Form of News: Style, Production, and Social Meaning, 1750-2000Part I. Before ModernismChapter 2. The Founding Forms: Politics and the Work of Newspapers, 1750-1850Chapter 3. Commercialization: The Newspaper and the Market Revolution, 1780s-1880sPart II. The Role of PicturesChapter 4. Civic Picturing: The Regime of Illustrated News, 1856-1901Chapter 5. The President Is Dead: Pictures and Journalistic Values, 1881-1963Part III. The Rise of ModernismChapter 6. The Front Page: Measuring Modernism and Its Phases, 1885-1985Chapter 7. Visual Mapping: Modern Design and Cultural Authority, 1920-1940Part IV. After ModernismChapter 8. Beyond Modernism: Americanization and Its Consequences, 1910-2000Chapter 9. Spectators and Their Spectacles: Forms of Knowledge, Forms of PowerReferencesIndex


'This wonderfully intelligent book... will enlarge and deepen our view of the press and will strengthen our understanding of the relation between journalism and civic life.' - James Carey, Columbia University 'Two enterprising scholars and newspaper buffs offer here an original new frame for American journalism history by analyzing the changing appearance of newspapers.' - Columbia Journalism Review 'The best - that is, the most well-written, comprehensive, and cogent - text to date on the history of newspapers in America. It will be useful for undergraduate and graduate courses, and will be of considerable interest to general readers.' - Neil M. Postman, New York University 'Offers a useful and accessible overview of the history of American newspaper form. Ideally, [this book] will also serve as a baseline and model for future studies analyzing the relationship between form and the role a medium plays in society.' - SHARP News (Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing) 'Barnhurst and Nerone cover ground that has rarely been tread before. And they do it with a keen eye on historical context.' - Nieman Reports

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