U.S. Journalism Timeline

American Journalism: A Timeline

By Christopher B. Daly

Boston University

1704 First American newspaper published. (In Boston)

1729       Benjamin Franklin begins publishing

1735 Sedition trial of printer John Peter Zenger.

1776 Start of American Revolution. Thomas Paine writes

pamphlet called “Common Sense.”

1789-91 Adoption of Constitution and First Amendment.

1790-1830 Partisan and commercial press period.

1798 Sedition Act passed by Federalists and used against

Republican editors; allowed to expire under Jefferson.


1833 Founding of first Penny Press paper in New York,

making newspapers cheap enough for the masses.

1844 Invention of telegraph, by Samuel F.B. Morse.

1846            The Associated Press founded, in New York City.

1854              The New-York Daily Times founded.

1861-65        U.S. Civil War.

1880s-90s Rise of “new journalism.” Introduction of photographs                                  into newspapers. Era of “Press Barons” William                                           Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer.

1898                Spanish-American War.

1904-12 Period of investigative reporting known as


1917-18 U.S. role in WWI (censorship + propaganda)


1923 Henry Luce founds TIME magazine.

1925 Harold Ross founds The New Yorker.

1926 Radio Corp. of America creates NBC network.

1927 Congress creates commission to regulate radio.

CBS network founded by William Paley.

1930s Economic depression. Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt                                                               delivers “fireside chats” on radio.

1941-45 U.S. role in WWII. (censorship + propaganda)

1945-89         Cold War

1948 First regular television news.

1954               Edward R. Murrow attacks Sen. McCarthy

1960 Television shows Kennedy-Nixon debate.

1960-75 U.S. involvement in Vietnam War.

1963 Television covers Kennedy assassination.

1964               NYTimes v. Sullivan (Supreme Court libel case)

1968 In Vietnam, Tet Offensive; My Lai massacre.

CBS launches “60 Minutes” TV news magazine

1970                NPR begins.

1971                Pentagon Papers case.

1972-74         Watergate scandal.

1980               CNN founded by Ted Turner

1982               USA Today newspaper launched by Gannett Co.

1987 Broadcasting de-regulation begins.

1988 Rush Limbaugh goes national with conservative talk


1991 U.S.-led war in Persian Gulf.

1995                World Wide Web begins to spread to public.

1996 Fox News debuts.


2001 On Sept. 11, terrorists attack U.S.

2005 NYTimes reporter Judith Miller serves 85 days in jail

to protect a confidential source.

2007 On-line journalist Joshua Micha Marshall, founder of TPM,                                wins a Polk award for journalistic excellence.


1 Comment

Filed under journalism history

One response to “U.S. Journalism Timeline

  1. As an undergraduate journalism student at ASU’s Cronkite School, I appreciate you posting this blog and giving perspective to some of journalism’s biggest milestones. I am currently studying some of the history surrounding the creation of standardized journalism ethics, and my professor, Michael Bluhm, told our class that journalistic ethics were born as a backlash to yellow journalism as well as a way for the powerful elite (newspaper owners) to control the working class (readers and journalists themselves).
    I was wondering if you had any additional information on this transformation in the history of journalism?
    You can read the blog I wrote on Professor Bluhm’s background here http://brittanymarlene.wordpress.com/2011/08/26/michael-bluhm-cronkite-professor/
    -Brittany Marlene


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