The Invention of News: How the World Came To Know About Itself

Yale Univ. 2014. 456p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300179088. $35. COMM
OrangeReviewStarThe desire and need to know what is happening in the world around us has deep historic roots. Pettegree (history, Univ. of St. Andrews) carefully documents the history of news in Europe. Beginning with the prepaper world, the author covers the four centuries up to 1800. As Europe developed, the start of a communication network formed to support the information needs of rulers, church officials, and developing commercial enterprises. Early efforts included papal courier services, a postal service for the Holy Roman Empire, and medieval chronicle writing. Previously, news was often delivered orally in town marketplaces, taverns, and churches, and only the elite could afford to subscribe to specialized manuscript messenger services. As print evolved, along came pamphlets, edicts, journals, and broadsheets. Then, when printing materials became cheaper and more accessible, people's understanding of the world began to change. The book is wonderfully illustrated with examples of early news sources. Pettegree relies on an impressive range of archival sources, including diaries, that illuminate how several individuals acquired and understood everyday events.
VERDICT This expansive view of news and how it reached people will be fascinating to readers interested in communication and cultural history.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing