Mass Media, Political Strife and the Nineteenth Century

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"The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything. Except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands." –Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism, 1891. The quote above sums up the past and present influence of the media on human societies. Humans have a tendency to look for the justifications for their ridiculous actions whether for the benefit of a group, the spread of their ideology, or sheer greed. In creating these justifications, some form of media must be used in order for it to take hold of a given society. The invention of the printing press in the mid-fifteenth century, acting as a preamble, led from one event to another such as the Protestant Reformation and the Thirty Years' War. The latter conflict was the epitome of deplorable misery and death all fuelled by what was spread in printed manuscripts and books. My argument is that various media, particularly the newspaper, have led and will continue to lead political strife and misery. In addition, I will be arguing with evidence from the nineteenth century, such as a brief description of the rise of the media in 1860s United States, the Congo experience of Henry Morgan Stanley, and culminating with the beginning of the Spanish-American War at the end of that century. While the media did not have any spectacular influences apart from the Reformation, American and French Revolutions (particularly in the form of pamphlets to spread ideals), it was galvanized in the nineteenth century by improvements in technology. These improvements, which were brought about by the Industrial Revolution, harnessed the capacity of the printing presses to multiply their output geometrically. With ... ... middle of paper ... ...ions, due to improvements in technology, spread them everywhere with no consideration for consequences. This media, exploiting human appetites for new information and venturing into uncharted territory, unintentionally created a new world where lives were drastically changed forever. Works Cited Berenson, Edward. Heroes of Empire: Five Charismatic Men and the Conquest of Africa. Berkeley: University of California, 2011. Print. Key, Wilson Bryan. The Age of Manipulation: The Con in Confidence, The Sin in Sincere. New York: H. Holt, 1989. Print. Secunda, Eugene, and Terence P. Moran. Selling War To America: From the Spanish American War to the Global War on Terror. Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2007. Print. Summers, Mark Wahlgren. The Press Gang: Newspapers and Politics, 1865-1878. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1994. Print.

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