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US Newspapers: A Continuing Story

1450s - Johann Gutenberg pioneers the use of movable type and the platen press for printing. 1690 - Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, the first newspaper published in the Colonies, is issued in Boston by Benjamin Harris and is suppressed by the colonial governor after one issue. 1704 - Boston News-Letter, the first commercially successful newspaper in the Colonies, is founded by John Campbell and is ``published by authority.'' 1735 - John Peter Zenger is acquitted of seditious libel charges growing out of comments in his New York Weekly Journal. The decision is now regarded as a fundamental step in establishing freedom of the press. 1754 - Benjamin Franklin publishes the first political cartoon. 1786-87 - The Pittsburgh Gazette and Kentucke (sic) Gazette in Lexington are the first newspapers founded west of the Alleghenies. 1791 - The Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and press, is ratified. 1825 - News is transmitted by mail in government ``express post.'' 1833 - Benjamin Day founds the New York Sun, the nation's first commerciallly successful penny paper. 1837 - Samuel Morse develops the telegraph. 1841 - Horace Greeley founds the New York Tribune. 1846-51 - Regional and local groups of newspaper editors form the Associated Press (AP) news-gathering agencies, responding to the introduction of telegraph lines in 1844. 1870 - Less expensive wood-pulp paper replaces rag-pulp paper in newspapers. 1878 - Joseph Pulitzer buys the St. Louis Dispatch and merges it with the St. Louis Post. 1880 - The number of afternoon newspapers surpasses the number of morning papers. 1883 - Joseph Pulitzer purchases the New York World and introduces a sensational, mass-marketing strategy. 1884 - The linotype machine, patented by Ottmar Mergenthaler, speeds newspaper production, thereby allowing newspapers to expand the number of pages. 1890s - High-speed rotary presses are used throughout the newspaper industry, and some metropolitan newspapers use two to four colors regularly in press runs. The halftone process is first used extensively for printing news photographs. 1894 - Richard Outcault produces the first widely known comic strip, ``Yellos Kid,'' in Pulitzer's New York Sunday World. 1895 - William Randolph Hearst purchases the New York Journal and challenges Pulitzer's World in the ``yellow journalism'' war of sensationalism. 1896 - Adolph Ochs acquires control of the New York Times and begins to build the paper's reputation. 1908 - Mary Baker Eddy founds The Christian Science Monitor in Boston. 1909 - Hearst founds the International News Service as a competitor to AP and United Press 1909 - The number of daily newspapers in the US reaches its largest total, about 2,600. 1917 - First Pulitzer Prizes awarded. 1935 - AP introduces the Wirephoto system of transmitting news photos by electronic signals. 1945 - Total circulation of daily newpapers reaches 36.5% of total population, the largest proportion of the population in history. 1964 - The New York Times v. Sullivan, a Supreme Court decision, establishes ``actual malice'' as the standard for defamation of public officials by newspapers. 1965-80 - investigative journalism, spurred by the Pentagon Papers and Watergate investigations, becomes a popular and controversial enterprise among newspapers. 1966-74 - ``New journalism,'' which uses feature and fictional styles in writing about news events, gains currency. 1967 - The demise of the World Journal Tribune signals a decline of New York City dailies from eight in 1950 to three by 1990. 1970 - The AP introduces computer-terminal writing and editing of news copy in its Atlanta and Columbia, S.C., bureaus. 1972-74 - Coverage of the Watergate break-in, especially by the Washington Post, contributes to President Nixon's resignation. 1975 - The Wall Street Journal introduces satellite delivery of full pages to regional printing centers. 1978 - Congress passes the Newspaper Preservation Act, allowing failing newspapers to apply for antitrust exemption to merge production and business operations with their competitors. 1981 - The AP begins satellite delivery of news reports to member newspapers. 1985 - Corporate chains own 69 percent of all daily newspapers and control nearly three-fourths of all daily circulation. Nearly 98 percent of cities with dailies do not have competing dailies.

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