Week 4 Reading Response

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.

2 Replies to “Week 4 Reading Response”

  1. I liked your comment about defeated attempts at controlling the spread of information. Today, it seems that people on differing sides of an issue tend to stretch the truth instead of trying to silence one another. There is less of a need to stifle opposition because social media, the internet, and modern journalism makes it easier to spread information to hurt another’s argument. In the same regard, the nature of these platforms also make it near impossible to stifle information today because sharing information is accessible and fast.

  2. I think you mark an interesting shift in the way news has been spread over time in that there was previously such a strong desire to get the word out to your fellow members of society that we had to take some drastic measures in order to make sure enough paper was had to get the word out. Now, while we are still striving for that informed public, it does seem to be a bit more challenging as we have to work a bit harder as consumers of information to make sure that what we’re reading and taking in is true.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *