The regulation of newspapers in the 18th century

Paul Starr again:

Throughout the century, the absence of regulatory obstacles to newspapers contributed to their growth. No guild regulations limited entry into printing and the Stamp Act of 1712 did not apply to the colonies.


Throughout most of the colonial era, however, there was no system of partisan politics to support partisan journalism. And with only a limited local demand for their services, printers typically maximized their potential clients and advertisers by not taking sides in local controversies… Printers avoided offending the powerful by keeping divisive issues entirely out of their newspapers, stifling debate rather than promoting it.

Objectivity is often seen as a pillar of modern journalism, but historically it has chilled debate.

First published Apr 5, 2011