Chapter 7: The Circulation War
7. The circulation war In the last decade of the nineteenth century, the major European powers were at peace, calmly digesting the chunks of Asia and Africa they had carved up among themselves. So far, the United States had politely restrained itself from attempting to build an overseas empire. Instead, the main goal of its foreign policy had been to keep Europe out of the Western Hemisphere. Meanwhile, a series of innovations was transforming the publishing industry. The web-fed rotary press, stereotypy, the linotype machine, the electric motor and paper from wood pulp had dramatically reduced the cost of producing an additional copy of a printed page. Together, these improvements had also greatly increased the initial investment required to launch a daily newspaper. As a result, a newspaper publisher needed to be able to sell hundreds of thousands of copies each day to be able to turn a proﬁt. But how could such publications possibly attract the required number of new readers at a time when most men and women lacked the patience to break into walls of dense text describing complex political, economic and social issues? SHAPING THE PUBLIC’S TASTES The American steamer Olivette had just left Havana harbor and the passengers were sitting at their dinner tables. Richard Harding Davis, reporter for the New York Journal, began a conversation with Señorita Clemencia Arango, a well-dressed young woman who described the humiliations to which she and two other young women had just been subjected. She related to...
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