This is the first book to analyse the essential feature of periodical media, which is their periodicity. Having to sell the next issue as well as the present one changes the relation between authors and readers-or customers-and subtly shapes the way that everything is reported, whether politics, the arts and science, or social issues. So there are certain biases that are implicit in the dynamics of news production or commodified information, quite apart from the intentions of journalists. The story of the first century of periodical media in England shows how soon publishers mastered this entirely new treatment of knowledge. And it shows how soon the public despite certain misgivings, adopted a news consciousness that was at odds with the "print consciousness" which Marshall McLuhan described. The colorful pioneers of journalism history seem different when seen first as entrepreneurs, creating a market for the most ordinary sort of information, rather than as heroes of enlightenment and liberty. Looking closely at the publications themselves rather than recounting the struggles of journalists reveals more of what readers were actually faced with.
It also suggests how periodicity would begin to shape their minds. Further, it indicates how the very immaturity of the early media allowed them to perform their function of initiating discussion, and how soon a commercial maturity undermined that function, leading to deficiencies which are now widely lamented but little understood.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc