More on the time lag in news reporting…

August 10, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

journals_and_journeymen_briSome weeks ago I commented on the time lag between a news event and its appearance in newspapers of the day, focusing on the publication dates of the Declaration of Independence in various newspapers.

Because time lag is a major factor in looking for news reports prior to the use of the telegraph in the mid-19th century, I thought more discussion should be given to the issue.  Again I turn to Brigham’s “Journals and Journeymen” for much valuable information.

Obviously the  delay in receiving news of world events was beyond the control of newspaper publishers. The news of the death of Queen Anne on August 1, 1714 arrived in America on September 15. George I died June 14, 1727 but his subjects in America did not learn of it until August 13. George II died October 25, 1760 and it was two months later before the news arrived at Boston. Even the significance of the Treaty of Versailles at Paris which ended the Revolutionary War was first heard of at Boston on October 22 and not published in a newspaper until October 30 despite the event happening on September 3.

Ocean travel was dangerous & speed was dependent on the weather. Foreign wars & privateering also made voyages quite hazardous. The first issue of the “Boston News-Letter” of April 24, 1704 carried London reports of December 20, 1703. It was common for ships to load their passengers & their London newspapers and then wait around in the Channel for up to 3 weeks or more before sailing. During the first two years of newspaper publication there were exceptional voyages of five weeks, but the average was about two months.

After the Revolution & before 1820 merchants began building larger vessels which meant improved speed. In 1820 there were frequent sailings of 28 to 30 days, but there was no dependable time schedule.

Noting the diaries of some famous travelers we gain some insight. In 1722 Samuel Johnson traveled from Boston to England in 39 days. Benjamin Franklin in returning from England to Philadelphia in 1726 did so in 67 days. William Beverley sailed from Virginia to Liverpool in 37 days. Abigail Adams, whose story of a voyage is one of the most detailed on record, sailed from America to England in 30 days in 1784.

Postriders took a week to travel from New York to Boston, and at least two days from Philadelphia to New York. When stagecoaches came into use around 1785, the delivery of letters & newspapers was quicker & more consistent.

But by the establishment of the magnetic telegraph in 1844 and the laying of the Atlantic cable in 1858 (but not perfected until 1866) news was transmitteed from country to country instantaneously.

Collectible Magazines… Rich West… Periodyssey – Part II

April 13, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Tammy Kahn Fennell at Collectibles Corner TV recently completed part II of her interview with Rich West of Periodyssey fame.  Part II of the interview begins at the 3:32 mark; however,  if you have the time, the entire episode is worth watching.  Thanks Tammy… and Rich.

Episode #10 – Depression Glass, Colophon, Rich West of Periodyssey part 2, Get Me Video

Note from the previous post re: the interview with Rich:

Although Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers’ archives contain nearly every issue of Gentleman’s Magazine, Harper’s Weekly (actually an illustrated newspaper), Harper’s Monthly, The Sporting News, and a selection of others (Liberty Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, Scribner’s, etc.), including many of these and others beyond what is posted on the Rare & Early Newspapers website, the Timothy Hughes of magazine collecting is Rich West of Periodyssey.  He operates with integrity, has an incredible inventory of magazines to offer, and is the most knowledgeable resource in the field of magazine collectibles.

A reference book for your shelves…

March 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

There are very few reference books which are exclusive to newspapers, so some of the better ones are about printing in general, peppered with historical accounts of newspaper publishing as well.

One of my favorites is such a book, titled “Printing In The Americas” by John Clyde Oswald. Done by the Gregg Publishing Company in 1937 it unfortunately is out of print, however copies can be found on book dealer shelves across the country. With the broad scope of internet sites abebooks.com and alibris.com I suspect it would not be difficult to find a copy.

There are 91 chapters totaling over 560 pages but it can essentially be considered to have three parts. first: a general history of printing in colonial America which includes much on early newspapers; second: a state by state review of the their first printing efforts, most of which were newspapers rather than books or pamphlets; and third: printing history in other countries of the Western hemisphere including Canada, Central America, South America and the West Indies, typically not dealt with in most printing history efforts.

I find the Midwest and Western states to have the most intriguing histories, filled with stories of tragedy & hardship in trying to operate a printing establishment in the wilds of America. There were far more failures than successes. Early printers must certainly have come from hearty and optimistic stock.

This is a title I would suggest you pursue. Given its format it doesn’t have to be read cover to cover, but rather chapters of interest stand alone as little histories in just a few pages.

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