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The Penny Press

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The Penny Press was developed during a very dynamic and colorful period in American history. In the early 1800s, newspapers were biased and controlled by political parties that only reported on political news. Social, economic,political and cultural conditions created a new form of journalism which began during the penny press. For once readers were able to read a newspaper and not just view it. This new press refelcted the new politics going on in America. Many historians believed that the nations growing litercay was the reason for the development of this cheap new press. By 1862, a number of editors wrote editorials including gossip and sports. The penny papers were influenced by Charles Knights magazine, Penny Magazine. This press was very sucessful . After a year this paper attainted a circulation of more than 20,000 and boosted a large American audience. The penny papers were started and owned by competitive entreprenuers who saw the value in mass production of newspapers that could be read by all classes of society. ” Now the commitment came from private entrepreneurs who owned their power and it was the kind of power the press had never enjoyed before” ( Fellow 85).

The penny press produced several changes that reported on different forms of news . They broke away from their roots and then began mass production and distribution. The penny press newspapers started to attract people into a common interest. These papers gave stories the readers could understand and relate to. The papers were organized to get the news out efficently and faster but cheaply. As the population grew the demand for news grew. “The nation saw a 233 percent increase in population between 1833 and 1860 ” ( Fellow 106). The penny press developed advertising as a means for increasing revenue. “The penny papers contributed to the extensive development of the free market by making advertising more avaliable to more people and by transforming the newspaper from something to be borrowed to a product one brought home and read” ( Fellow 84). It is said that ” The penny press revolutionized the way news was financed,produced, distributed and consumed. ” ( Fellow 108). These newspapers were now including local news stories not just foreign news. Stories were being told about the local police, the streets, courts and private households were being printed. ” News for the first time reflected not just commerce or politics but social news” ( Fellow 108).

News became a nessecity during this time which expanded newspaper businesses making them a larger organization with production, editorial and advertising departments. During the penny press, news became less political because most of the publishers were no longer biased for just one political party. ” They could not afford to offend anyone with different political beliefs because they needed mass audiences to attract advertisers” ( Fellow 109). Andrew Jackson brought upon an explosion in public prints. He believed in the common man and economic equality. This contributed to the birth of the penny press. The penny press introduced newspaper competition which demanded faster methods to get the news faster and to print news quicker. ” The penny press pushed technology” ( Fellow 87). The invention of the Telegraph helped produce cheap paper from wood pulp making it possible for newspapers to be produced quickly in mass quantities. This allowed publishers to reach their deadlines and attracted advertisers which helped make money. Transportation and technology made it easier for these papers to be distrubted which helped increae revenue.

The development of canals and railroads allowed paper mills to transport their newspapers to distant places instead of just selling it to local markets. The hand powered press was another attribute that contributed to the development of the penny press. The steam power and the flatbed press made it possible to print more sheets per hour. Technological developments improved the manufacturing of these newspapers. Overall, the penny press helped with the independence from political parties. The penny press also included low prices, which made it affordable for more people to buy. The penny press was in high circulation and had an emphasis on news. The penny press helped to bring about the extension of the market by opening up advertising and made the newspaper afforadable and cheap enough to be consumed at home. Invention of the steam press and the telegraph coupled with a relatively robust economy and rising literacy gave rise to newspapers that expanded their size and reduced their prices. This became more accesible to reaching a larger audience in multiple cities. The penny press has had an impact on todays development of news in newspaper and online.

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