Benjamin Harris’s Publick Occurrences both Forreign and Domestick was the first newspaper in the American colonies. Spell check was obviously yet to be invented.
Although it was shut down soon after for not having a required license, “Harris’ newspaper employed an early form of reader participation” according to Rogers in ‘A (Brief) History of Print Journalism in America’ (2014). It consisted of three sheets of stationery-size paper and a fourth page which was left blank for the reader to add their own news and pass it on.
The stories printed were deemed necessary to understanding the world by providing information, in a meaningful, relevant and engaging way, that people needed to live their lives (Shelley 2007). Over the decades, what is deemed necessary to engage with the world has outgrown the boundaries of primitive paper into the vast digital realm. With our ever-expanding repertoire of outlets, media has evolved to include traditional news (deaths, crime, politics, economy, etc) and what is often referred to as ‘soft news’ (the arts and human interest stories).
To engage this subject matter, journalists are rejecting the traditional written articles and press releases, and instead opting for documentaries, the internet and advertising- a branch referred to as aesthetic journalism (Cramerotti 2011).
With news being reported 24/7 through countless platforms by thousands of journalists, traditional news does not sell like it once did. People are looking online to filter their own interests which often lie in the broader category of arts or popular journalism. The information available on these platforms is still just as necessary to allowing readers to engage in their world in a meaningful way, but that information is no longer encased in the A4 pages of Publick Occurrences.
I have cultivated an arts blog over the past few months which you can visit here, should it interest you.
Cramerotti, Alfredo, 2011, “What is Aesthetic Journalism,” in Cramerotti, Alfredo, Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform Without Informing, Intellect, London
Pratt, Andy C., 2011, “The cultural contradictions of the creative city,” City, Culture and Society 2 pp. 123–130
Rogers, Tony, ‘A (Brief) History of Print Journalism in America’, 2014, http://journalism.about.com/od/ethicsprofessionalism/a/printhistory.htm