In reading the “Information Diffusion in the British Colonies” and “The Press, Paper Shortages, and Revolution in Early America” for this week’s assignments, it occurred to me that the flow of information has always had its obstacles in the United States. From the stifling of the Colonial press by England to the lack of linens needed to make paper in America during the pre-revolutionary period, it is a miracle the colonists were ever able to assemble enough momentum to create a revolution. But it seems as if there was always a strong desire to have an informed public from the beginning of this nation and therefore the freedom of the press always succeeded in delivering the necessary messages.
There will be more obstacles in the history of American journalism and early communications that try to smother the flow of information. “Information Diffusion” mentions the gag rule of the 1800s, where speaking of abolition was prohibited in congress and in newspapers. Once again, the spreading of information (and abolition) will win.
It seems that the need and desire for an informed public always defeated the attempts of those in charge to try and hide certain facts. We can only hope that we, as a nation, continue to lean towards truth, educating the public, and freedom of the press.
Chandler, Alfred D., and James W. Cortada. Nation Transformed by Information: How Information Has Shaped the United States from Colonial Times to the Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Mellen, Roger. “The Press, Paper Shortages, and Revolution in Early America.” Media History 21, no. 1 (January 2, 2015): 23-41.