During most of the nineteenth century, a newspaper or a magazine could be started with a little borrowed cash and a lot of hard work. Most publications expressed the views and preferences of their publishers and editors: it was the age of personal journalism. By 1900 it took at least a million dollars to launch a newspaper in New York City, and most publications were affected by business concerns. So began the age of corporate journalism. What had been a personal, local, and literary enterprise became steadily more bureaucratic, national, and professional throughout the twentieth century. In 1900 there were 2,226 dailies with a combined circulation of 15.1 million in the United States.
Rapid growth in population, resources, and power had turned the United States into a decidedly industrial nation by the turn of the century, but basic questions about the character of the nation remained unanswered. What role would the United States play in world politics? How could unrestricted economic individualism be reconciled with the goals of social reformers who crusaded against the ills of capitalism? How many people would benefit from the wealth generated by the nation's prodigious natural resources? Would the government guarantee living and working conditions, educational opportunities, health, and security? And not...
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