Friday, January 11, 2019


Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

My grandfather worked as a typesetter for a Dallas newspaper for many years. Because of my interest in writing and taking journalism in high school and college, we shared time talking about newspapers and how they were published. One of his first jobs as a young boy was delivering newspapers in Victoria, Texas where his father was a doctor. In writing a novel loosely based on his life, I did research about newspapers which I found to be interesting.

 Even though daily newspapers are dwindling today, they were once the main source of news for those who were literate and could afford the price. Printing in colonial America was expensive with small circulations. No editor could afford to put more than one or two issues a week. Because of the expense of printing and distributing the paper, many of the common folks in town were excluded. Even though Americans tended to be literate, they simply didn’t have the money to buy newspapers. Thus, the circulation remained small.

One of the early "newspaper" sheets circa 1690.

In spite of the expense, early newspapers had a profound influence on the early years of our federal government. Articles, essays, and editorials were in abundance and the organs for political faction. Many politicians became connected to specific newspapers.

Noah Webster, before publishing the first American dictionary, started the first daily newspaper in 1783 in New York City named the American Minerva. Essentially, it was an organ of the Federalist Party. Although in operation for only a few years, it influenced and inspired the establishment of later newspapers.

Eight years later, Alexander Hamilton founded the Post, and it also had some political affiliation. At the time, the newspaper became the means for politicians to communicate with their constituents. The papers carried accounts of newsworthy events as well as letters from the people who voiced their opinions concerning political matters.

John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, and Andrew Jackson all had political campaigns which played out on the pages of newspapers. This type of political action continued well into the 1820’s.

As newspapers began a transformation in the 1830’s, they turned to publishing news of current events, local happenings, and non-partisan editorials and essays. The price also went down which allowed for the working class and even new immigrants to buy them. Now everyone could afford the paper and reading the news every morning became a routine in many households across the country.

Photographic portrait of James Gordon Bennett

Some of the great names in the industry as it grew included Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune and James Gordon Bennett, pictured above, of the New York Herald. They both possessed strong personalities and controversial opinions as expressed in their respective newspapers.

Another editor, William Cullen Bryant, edited the New York Evening Post even though people knew him better as a poet. The New York Times began publishing in 1851 with Henry J. Raymond at the helm. Raymond worked under Greeley, and the newspaper was considered an upstart without any strong political connection.

Newspaper Press Circa 1865

As the nation grew, underwent wars, and invented new technologies, the newspapers grew as well. With the invention of the linotype by Ottmar Mergenthaler, the papers could publish larger editions with more pages and more news of interest to more people such as news about sporting events.

In the late 1880s Joseph Pulitzer, a successful publisher from St. Louis, bought a paper in New York City. Pulitzer transformed the business of print news by focusing on events that would appeal to common people. He focused on crime stories and other sensational subjects in New York World. The vivid headlines, produced by a staff of specialized editors, pulled in readers.
Pulitzer met with great success in New York, but in the mid 1890’s, a competitor came into the picture. William Randolph Hearst, already the publisher of a San Francisco newspaper, moved to New York City and purchased the New York Journal.
From the competition between the two men came a circulation war, the likes of which had not been seen before. There had been competitive publishers before, of course, but nothing like this. The sensationalism of the competition became known as Yellow Journalism.
In the 19th and early to late 20th Century, our nation witnessed a rise in newspaper circulation. Newspapers were delivered to the home, sold at newsstands or hawked by newsboys on city streets. 

Now, in the 21st century, we see its decline. People now depend on electronic media to give them up-to-date news about events around the world. With the news flashes available on cell phones and computers, even the news on TV may seem old.

Most Americans today are in a rush for everything, and getting the news as soon as it happens is more appealing than reading through various sections in a daily newspaper. With rising costs and smaller editions, the newspapers of today are becoming less and less a necessity of our daily lives.

How much of a part does a newspaper play in your daily life? Do you prefer a printed version or electronic?

It's getting to be rodeo time here in Houston, and my newest release features a barrel-racing heroine. 

Kylee is the youngest of the Danner clan and drops out of college to barrel race full-time and spend more time with her rodeo sweetheart, Jesse Martin. Connor Morris, known as Jesse Martin on the rodeo circuit, is in love with Kylee, but he is keeping his true identity from her for now. When her brothers discover Jesse Martin is an ex-con on parole, they jump in and decide Kylee must break off the relationship. Kylee can’t believe Jesse is what they say, but when he doesn’t show up at the rodeo where they’re both competing, she grows suspicious. When the truth of his identity as Connor Morris is revealed in a news item on television, it is even more shocking to Kylee. His retired movie queen mother has had a heart attack and is at a hospital in Denver. He is shown there with a woman claiming to be his fiancĂ©e, and she calls him Connor Morris, son of Hal Morris, who was running for U.S. Senator from Colorado. Jesse must now not only gain back Kylee’s love and trust, he must also convince her father and brothers that he loves Kylee and the TV story was a big mix-up. 

Martha Rogers is a multi-published author and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston, Texas where they are active members of First Baptist Church. They are the parents of three sons and grandparents to eleven grandchildren and great-grandparents to four, soon to be five. Martha is a retired teacher with twenty-eight years teaching Home Economics and English at the secondary level and eight years at the college level supervising student teachers and teaching freshman English. She is the Director of the Texas Christian Writers Conference held in Houston in August each year, a member of ACFW, ACFW WOTS chapter in Houston, and a member of the writers’ group, Inspirational Writers Alive.
Find Martha at:, Twitter:  @martharogers2                Facebook: Martha Rogers Author


  1. I enjoy getting a paper, but cost and lack of interest in the stories it chooses to cover have made us decide not to get daily papers. And you are right, most information is available online. I think often to myself how our dependence on these electronic items in our home may well be our demise one day, and the old ways may have to be resurrected. Even with the regular phone system rather than smartphones. I can't remember the last time I had a conversational phone call!!! Thanks for the post, Martha. Happy New Year!

    1. Yes, Connie,electronics have taken over our lives. Happy New Year to you and thanks for stopping by.

  2. One of the ways I learned to love reading is by watching my parents read the newspaper. As a young girl, I sat on the floor near my parents, waiting for each one to hand me a section of the newspaper to read. :-) Precious memories.

    1. Yes, they are precious. I remember how when my birthday or special occasion drew near and I would ask how long until it came, my mother would say it was three colored comics days until it was time. Colored comics were only on Sunday, so I would count those. Fun to remember those days. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Hi Martha, Very interesting post! I did not know about the competition between Pulitzer and Hearst. And that picture of the old press! WOW! My brothers and my husband had newspaper routes when they were boys. I also worked at a newspaper in advertising several years and found it very exciting. My father read it every morning and every afternoon after work (two papers a day). We still get the daily paper at our house, although we're probably in the minority in our neighborhood to do so. So many people use the internet instead now. I know many newspapers are struggling to stay afloat and the hometown newspaper is slowly disappearing, either being bought out by a conglomerate or going out of business altogether, which I think is sad.

    1. I think so as well. If we really want local news that affects us and our neighborhood, we rely on a free weekly newspaper put out by a publisher in our area. It covers our section of the city in Northwest Houston, and we enjoy reading about new restaurants and businesses in our area as well as what is happening in our neighborhoods. It exists on contributions from those who read the paper, and it's delivered to our front yard every week.

  4. Reading a printed daily newspaper has been in my routine for most of my life until last year. The cost of the phone and the diminished content helped in our decision to cancel our subscription. I still miss it at times but I check area obituaries on line. Thanks for a great post!

  5. We read the paper on-line now as well, but we still get the Sunday addition. I like the crossword puzzle and my husband devours the sports. The daily paper has shrunk so, it's not worth the cost. Thanks for stopping by.