The media has always played a role in how a society functions dating back to the Egyptians and the hieroglyphics. Whether it was to tell a story or to tell the achievements of the time, the media always was there to document everything.
In the past century, the media has played an increasingly large role on society. With the invention of the radio in the late 1800’s and the finalizing of what the radio is today in the early 1900’s, the media had a direct channel into people’s homes (The Invention). People’s everyday lives began to be affected by the media. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that the television was introduced, so this paper will take a look at how the newspaper and radio coverage of current events has changed over the past century.
II. Three Generations
The grandparents of today have seen radio go through many changes. They have seen the invention of the radio and how it was the newest source for news. They lived through the time when the radio cost more than a television set does today. They listened to the radio throughout World War II and listened to the radio during the Big Band Era. The parents of today saw radio take the backset when the television was introduced. They used the radio primarily as a source of entertainment and listened to the Beatles and the rock bands. The youth of today uses the radio as a source of entertainment as well. Some youth use the radio to get their news in the morning or in the evening, but basically it is used to listen to music.
“Guglielmo Marconi sent and received his first radio signal in Italy in 1895” (The Invention). This marked a turning point in how people would communicate, and most importantly, how people would receive their news. In the early 1900’s, the radio played a vital, but small part in delivering the news. Although the new technology began sweeping the nation very quickly, it still had problems of delivering the signal to these people.
The content of the radio was significantly sparse. Because of signal problems, not very many people could receive the transmission. When the radio was first introduced to the home, it was sold more as an entertainment piece than an information piece. People purchased radios to hear the stories and music instead of purchasing it to stay on top of current events.
Throughout World War II, it became more of a news source. All of a sudden, people began to use their radio often to get an update of how the armies were doing overseas. People all over the nation listened to the President declare war over the radio air waves. Suddenly, radio stations began having news segments throughout the entire day to keep everyone updated.
After World War II and throughout the 50’s, people began using the radio once more for entertainment. The radio was installed into automobiles and people were listening to the radio everyday. There were some news channels that offered morning news or evening news, but for the most part, it was used for music and entertainment. Stories over the radio still played a large role in what people used the radio for.
Some of the programs did not even have commercials. “Let’s Pretend, (children, 1934) in the “public interest” without commercials by CBS until the 1940s” (History of Radio).
As time progressed, and people entered into the 70’s until today, radio became a both a news source and an entertainment center. Radio stations are abundant now and whatever the person is looking for can be found. Information, sports, weather, news, traffic, music, comedy, and much more is available on the radio.
When the radio first came out in the early 1900’s, not very many people could pick up radio signals. Due to the fact that it was a new technology and not evolved, many alterations had to be made so that the general public could receive the radio transmissions.
As time went on, more and more people were able to receive radio signals. Today, there are millions of radio stations and new technology that allow radio stations to be played over a satellite in space so that anybody can get a radio station no matter where they are.
As with any new technology, the price is very high when it is first introduced to the public. This is simply because everybody will want one and there are not enough to be sold to everybody. “In 1910, two new models replaced the XII, the Victrola X ($75.00) and Victrola XI ($100.00)” (History). After the radio was produced for a while, the price eventually came down and everybody could have one. After the radio was able to be installed in cars, everyone that owned a car had a radio. Before this, everyone probably had a radio already in their home.
The grandparents were able to get all of their information from the newspaper. It was the only news source available to them, so it was the only thing they could do to find out the news. It cost very little to have the newspaper every day as well. The parents of today saw the newspaper take a back seat to the radio and the television. They still read the newspaper everyday and saw the transformation from national and breaking news to local news and detailed news of the prior day’s events. The youth of today use the newspaper as a source of information for local news. Many youth read the newspaper online and do not even have it delivered anymore. It is a way to find out all the details about something that happened the day before.
“The history of newspapers is an often-dramatic chapter of the human experience going back some five centuries” (Barber). The newspaper was the main source of information in the early 1900’s. Everybody had the paper delivered to their home so that they knew what was going on in the world at the time. There was no other simple way to find out what was going on unless they heard it from another person that had read the newspaper.
The newspaper delivered cutting edge information and news. It told about world affairs, internal affairs, and everything to do with the economy. As time progressed and the radio and television stations began to become more accessible and popular, the newspaper began too lose its control over the news department.
With the development of television and radio, the newspaper could no longer be the first to bring the information. The television would break into programs to bring breaking news, just as it does today. Details could be found the next day in the newspaper.
The newspaper has never had a problem with availability. Since the newspaper was the primary source of news in the early 1900’s, it had to be able to be delivered to every person that wanted it. The printing press allowed this and enabled the mass production of newspapers so that everyone could receive one.
The cost of a newspaper was very cheap in the early 1900’s. Since it was the only source for news, everybody had it, so company could charge a little for each one and still make a large profit. “A copy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on August 2 1927 cost just three cents” (About Us). Over time, the newspaper began to be valued less, so the companies had to start charging more for the newspaper. The newspaper is one of the few inventions in history that has raised its price as time progressed.
III. Media Usage
The media has used the radio in many different ways. Beginning in the early 1900’s, the media used the radio to alert the nation of breaking news and weird news across the nation. It was important for everybody to know what was going on. They simply told the facts of the story and went back to the regular programming.
Soon, the television came into play and people began not using the radio as much. So, just as anything will do when it begins losing popularity, it must do something to grab people’s attention. The radio began using scare tactics so that people would listen to the radio instead of the television. The radio would alert the public that they were in danger and they needed to stay tuned to that station so they knew what was happening.
People fell into the trap and listened to that station religiously so that they didn’t miss what happened. Finally, television completely took over as the primary source of news and the radio went back to giving the news with just the facts and going back to the programming. “Commercial radio Ã¢Â?Â¦ has by now totally abandoned serious journalism, except some might argue, in a handful of big cities whose all-news radio stations typically offer little more than a 24-hour headline service” (Radio).
Since the newspaper was the primary source of news, the media used it from the beginning. The newspaper displayed information in a very down to earth format explaining nothing but the facts of the story.
Just as the radio did when television came along, the newspaper had to begin writing stories to grab people’s attention and get them away from the radio. This was extremely hard for the newspaper since it only came out daily, and the radio could alert people of news at anytime of the day.
The newspaper took a left turn at that moment in history. Since then, the newspaper has become a source of details. The radio and the television told the event that took place and the newspaper comes out the next day with all of the specific details about the event.
Today, the newspaper still takes the role of explaining the detail. But, the newspaper has a more important role. It simply documents our history. While radio and television can be taped and stored, the newspaper is the only source of information that people may be able to look at in 200 years and be able to use.
“When experienced news people are asked what makes for quality, a number of words and phrases inevitably surface: integrity, fairness, balance, accuracy, comprehensiveness, diligence in discovery, authority, breadth of coverage, variety of content, reflection of the entire home community, vivid writing, attractive makeup, packaging or appearance, and easy navigability. In the American tradition, but not always accepted elsewhere, is the clear differentiation of reporting and opinion” (Bogart).
IV. Similarities & Differences
The radio and the newspaper are very similar in their life pattern. The newspaper was the primary source of information until the radio came along. The newspaper began producing a different side of the story while the radio took over. Then, the television came along and the radio had to begin producing a different side of the story to stay alive. Both of these sources of information had to deal with being completely obsolete. They had to adjust themselves in order to survive.
The way the information is relayed today is also very similar in a newspaper and on the radio. There are many talk shows that will talk about an event the next day on the radio, just as the newspaper will give details about an event the next day.
The biggest difference between the two is the way they are used. The radio is used primarily as a source of entertainment today while the newspaper is still used for a story side of an event. Some people still do get a lot of their news from the radio, but television is the dominant factor when looking for a source of news.
The media will always play a large role in the way a society works. Whether or not it is from a newspaper, the radio, television, or the Internet, the media will always be there. The way the media has communicated to the public has made drastic changes in the past century. With the invention of the Internet, it is only safe to say that the public has only seen the tip of the iceberg in what the media can do.
The public has reacted to the media completely different in every generation the United States has gone through. Through World War II, the public reacted to the media with concern and belief. Through the Vietnam War, the public reacted to the media with hate and distrust. Today, the public has mixed feelings on what or if to belief from the media. The information that comes from the media will always be up to the viewer’s personal decision.
“About Us.” Pittsburgh Post Gazette 10 Feb 2006. 10 Feb 2006 http://www.post-gazette.com/aboutpg/history.asp
Barber, Phil. Newspaper History. HistoricPages.com. 10 Feb. 2006 http://www.historicpages.com/nprhist.htm
Bogart, Leo. “Reflections on Content Quality in Newspapers.” Newspaper Research Journal Dec 2004. 10 Feb 2006 http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3677/is_200401/ai_n9353031
History of Radio. History of Radio. 10 Feb. 2006 http://history.acusd.edu/gen/recording/radio.html
“History of the Victrola.” History of the Victrola. The Victor Victrola Page. 10 Feb. 2006 http://www.victor-victrola.com/ABOUT.htm
Radio: Content Analysis. 2004. Journalism.Org. 10 Feb. 2006 http://www.stateofthenewsmedia.org/narrative_radio_contentanalysis.asp?cat=2&media=8
The Invention of the Radio. About.com. 10 Feb. 2006 http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blradio.htm