The gathering of information and report news was prevalent centuries back. The advent of technology marked the inception of mass transmission of news and information with considerable change in the speed at which this information was gathered and disseminated to the public. The primitive source of transmission of news was by words of mouth by merchants, sailors, and traders. On their return, they brought home news and information which were picked by peddlers and travelers further spreading to other localities and towns. This transmitted news was documented by local professional personnel called as Scribes who wrote this reported news and information down. This was considered as the earliest form of journalism.
With the invention of the first printing press at around 1440 by German Johannes Gutenberg (in the Roman Empire) marked the technological aspect of disseminating news. It ended the manual documentation by scribes as it was highly unreliable and eventually died out with the invention of the printing press.
Within decades, the printing press spread to other European countries. With its operation mass media that is the press came into the picture. The Renaissance of Europe hence marked the era of mass communication which changed the structure of the society. The unrestricted and revolutionary information and ideas reached the borders areas captured the public at large consequently threatening the power of political religious authorities.
In the eighteenth-century newspapers and a few of magazines became the most easily accessible medium of journalism. Within a short period of time newspapers got a foothold and magazines as well. These periodicals were named ‘Tattler’ and ‘Spectator’. Information gathered through these periodical circulated at large and reached to a considerable audience.
Gradually with the increase in the audience at large, cost of gathering and transmitting became expensive as the publications saw the increasing appetite for printed news. News agencies became to form and started hiring people to collect, gather and write the news of the events happening around them and sell to news outlets. Over a period of the time telegraph invented by Samuel Morse greatly contributed in revolutionizing long distanced communication. Followed by the non-printing form of media; radio and television sped up the process of gathering and disseminating making news more credible, relevant and timely. The process was further sped by the introduction of internet disseminating within a flick of seconds. It thus marked the change in the course of journalism. Technology became an integral part of journalism.
By the twentieth century, journalism began as a way of making itself professionally. In 1883, the first foundation of journalists laid out in England with the foundation of England’s Chartered Institute of Journalists followed by the organization of the American Newspaper Guild in 1933 an institute meant to function as both trade union and a professional organization. From the inception of print media that is the newspaper till the mid-1800s, journalists learned the field as apprentices starting as copy boys and cub reporters.
Journalism as an academic discipline study first started when it was introduced at the university level in 1879 in the University of Missouri which was offered as a four-year course of study. In 1912 Columbia University in New York City established the first graduate program. Special training was offered to cater to the needs of special news concerning political affairs, science, economics contending the public interests demanding news reporters with knowledge in this field. By 1950s, courses in journalism were commonly offered in universities across the United States. Gradually motion pictures and radio evolved followed by television. Literature and texts on journalism grew drastically as well.
There were dark times in journalism where the journalists used immoral and dishonest tactics to win the public attention labeled as yellow journalism. Yellow journalism is a type of journalism that reports exaggerated, non-legitimate news and eye-catching headlines to influence the public to sell more newspapers. It came into view in the mid-1890’s when the advancement in technology made newspapers cheaper and sell less. The rival newspaper publishers competed for sales in coverage of events and led to the Spanish-American war in 1938, the first press drove war in the human history. The rival started as a competition between two New York newspaper publishers Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal. These newspapers publishers competed against each other for more sales and therefore, made more sensational and exaggerating news and eye-catching headlines to get people to buy more newspapers because the sales of a newspaper had decreased due to the evolution of non-print media. Since then yellow journalism has expanded as technology further advanced affecting society in several ways.
Eventually, we come to the present world of journalism. The radical advancement in internet, satellite and digital technology has made news and information easily accessible increasing the competition among the journalists and there has been such tremendous growth since the yellow newspaper ages.
Today there are many alternative mediums of dissemination developed such as online distribution, electronic mailings, interaction through forums, blogs, popular social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to compete and meet the demand of ‘in a minute’ updates. Consequently, to some extent, the information and reported news have been devalued because of the overload of the news uncovered. Nevertheless, journalism is crucial for the world. Journalism as a media channel serves as eyes and ears for those seeking information about the events happening around every corner around the globe. Journalism first began its advent through words by mouth transmission of news by merchants and travelers, has gradually reached to the present age of journalism where it plays a vital role in structuring our society, the way we view and think about the world around us.