Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972048 | Print ISBN: 9780761929574 | Online ISBN: 9781412972048| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
History of Journalism: Before 1861
Berrin A. Beasley
During the 400 years between the introduction of Johann Gutenberg's moveable type printing press around 1455 and the beginning of the American Civil War in 1861, news reporting experienced significant philosophical, legal, and technical changes that set the stage for the practice of modern journalism. Although written and printed communication did not originate in Western Europe, most American journalism scholars begin their discussion of journalism history with Gutenberg because of the United States' origin as a British colony. Gutenberg's press was brought to England in 1476 by Englishman William Caxton, who proceeded to publish the first book printed in English, a history of Troy. Caxton's other printed English works helped unify England under a common language. As a British colony, Americans were subject to English law, which included the licensing of publishers and charges of seditious libel whenever someone criticized the crown or royally appointed officials. These legal restraints on ...