THE PRINTED WORD NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES
MEDIA IN THEORY
Words are probably the most common sign in communication.
As symbols they signify something other than themselves.
They operate on
a denotative level in the sense that they name objects in our world.
They also work on a connotative level in the sense that they convey cultural beliefs and values. (Example: The experienced skier can identify a wide variety of snow such as corn snow, powder, champagne snow, packed powder, granular snow, and icy snow).
GUTENBERG AND MOVEABLE TYPE
As a business man not very successful and died penniless. However, like most people living along the Rhine, he did press his own grapes to make wine.
Johannes Gutenberg caused the most significant change in all human history. The mass produced written word. He invented moveable type.
We estimate the first page to be printed was around 1446. By 1500, presses all over western Europe had published almost 40,000 books. Today, Gutenberg is also known for the bibles he printed with moveable type.
Forty seven Gutenberg Bibles remain today. One sold in 1978 for $2.4 million dollars.
BOOKS IN HUMAN HISTORY
The introduction of books in the 15th century marked a turning point in human history.
Before then books were usually hand written by scribes or monks who copied existing books onto blank sheets of paper, letter by letter, one page at a time. These scribes could produce only a few hand-lettered books in a lifetime.
The duplicative power of moveable type put the written word into wide circulation and fueled quantum increases in literacy.
One hundred years after Guttenberg's death, an elaborate postal system was in place, printed maps replaced hand-drawn maps and newspapers followed shortly after.
NEWSPAPER INDUSTRY DIMENSIONS
In Canada, 106 dailies publish about 5 million copies a day.
The Canadian newspaper industry is multicultural: 39 Canadian ethnic groups publish almost 300 newspapers.
What makes a Canadian newspaper Canadian?
type is set in Canada (excluding ads or feature stories).
CONTENT, DIVERSITY AND DEPTH
Newspapers have a rich mix of content - news, advice, comics, opinions, sports etc.
People like newspapers. (Example: Having a cup of coffee in the morning, while reading the morning paper).
However, the newspaper industry is facing huge problems from:
1990 only 30% of
people under 35 years of age read a daily newspaper
Newspapers have since emphasized morning newspapers and have phased out afternoon papers.
THE EARLY DAYS OF CANADIAN NEWSPAPERS
Bartholomew Green set up the first printing press in Canada in 1751 in Halifax.
One year later, Green published Canada's first newspaper, the Halifax Gazette.
At the end of the War of 1812, Canada had only a handful of newspapers.
By 1825 the number had risen to almost 300 newspapers.
From 1850-1900s, immigration and migration became the two important factors in the growth of Canadian newspapers.
CANADIAN NEWSPAPERS IN THE 20TH CENTURY
Improvements in technology helped the newspaper to grow to new heights.
The average circulation for a daily newspaper in 1951 was around 40,000. An 800 percent increase since the 1900s.
Television arrived in 1952, and people began to turn away from newspapers as a source of news and entertainment.
Watching television takes less energy than reading a newspaper.
TREND TOWARD CHAINS
Reasoning that he could multiply profits by owning multiple newspapers, William Randolph Hearst put together a chain of big-city newspapers in the 1800s. Like other chains, Hearst also expanded into magazines, radio and television.
The trend toward chain ownership continues.
Today chains own the majority of daily newspapers in the United States and in Canada. (Example: See table page 41).
ASSESSING CHAIN OWNERSHIP
Is chain ownership good for newspapers?
Are diverse points of view as likely to get into print if ownership is concentrated into fewer and fewer hands?
Are chains more oriented to profits than participating in public dialogue?
Are chains so concerned about profits that they forget good journalism?
GOVERNMENT COMMISSIONS INTO CANADIAN NEWSPAPERS
1930 -116 daily newspapers were owned by 99 publishers
1970 - 3 newspapers chains, Southern, Thompson and F.P. had controlling interests in three-quarters of newspaper circulation in Canada.
1970 a Special Senate Committee on the status of the mass media in Canada, headed by Senator Keith Davey, released a report on the state of Canadian newspapers.
Rationale for the committee was the growing trend toward concentration of newspaper ownership.
The Davey report made many recommendations:
Ten years later the situation had not improved.
Ownership of newspapers, especially in Quebec had fallen into fewer and fewer hands.
1981 Kent Commission headed by Tom Kent
In August of 1980, the Ottawa Journal, which had been publishing for 94 years and was owned by Thomson, and the Winnipeg Tribune, which had been publishing for 90 years and was owned by Southam, each closed their doors. (Each city still had a daily newspaper, The Winnipeg Free Press owned by Thompson and the Ottawa Citizen, owned by Southern).
The commission was to propose a course of action for the government and the commission's mandate was considerably broader than its predecessors.
Kent Commission made recommendations on the concentration of ownership, on editorial expression, and on the quality of Journalism in Canada.
CURRENT STATE OF NEWSPAPER INDUSTRY
Since the 1981 Kent Commission the situation has not changed, just the players have. 1981 Thompson owned twice as many newspapers as Southam. Thompson has since sold off most of its newspapers to concentrate on electronic information services.
Southam is now the largest newspaper player in Canada with an average daily circulation of 1.4 million newspapers, or 27% of total daily newspaper circulation in Canada. It owns 17 dailies and 33 weeklies in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. Southam also publishes business magazines and electronic information for America On-Line (AOL).
Conrad Black's Hollinger is Canada's second largest publisher. In 1996 Hollinger acquired 41 percent of Southam.
The fears of both the Davey and Kent commissions are well founded. Mr. Black has become a media supernova.
Some view this a national disaster
MIDTERM Assignment: Do a historical analysis of the concentration of chain ownership by Southern, Thompson or Hollinger or a critical anlysis of the Davey or Kent commissions.
What will replace
the newspaper as the mirror and mentor of our communities?
News is a product, and it needs a variety of voices to be produced. Too much power in the hands of one person contradicts the role of the press in a democracy. (Example: Conrad Black and the Prime Minister).
Also, newspapers have traditionally been used to record history. Concentration of ownership has serious implications for archival information and future historical research.
Television, direct mail and preprints have affected newspaper advertising and subsequent revenues. (Preprints are advertising circulars tucked inside a newspaper. In the past, these advertisers would have supported the newspaper directly by placing advertisements within the newspaper itself).
Formal classified ads generate more than half of a newspaper's revenue.
ADVANTAGES OF NEWSPAPERS OVER OTHER MEDIA
Portability: Newspapers are a portable medium.
Variety: Cover a variety of events and features, more than other media.
Indexed content: Quick source of information.
Depth coverage: Room for lengthy, in-depth treatment, unlike radio or TV.
Counter-culture newspapers (Alternative newspapers): Antiestablishment political coverage and antimilitary slant
Ethnic newspapers (Minority newspapers) Canada's Italian community has 30 newspapers, Jewish community 20 newspapers and First Nations 20 newspapers.
SOURCE: Abridged version of Chapter two from: Vivian, John and Maurin, Peter. (1997). The Media of Mass Communication. Allyn and Bacon Canada. Scarborough, Ontario.