Radio Was Gonna Kill Newspapers, Too

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2009 11:30 AM CDT
"Media at War: Radio's Challenge to the Newspapers, 1924-1939," by scholar Gwyneth L. Jackaway, offers an intriguing parallel to contemporary debates about Internet news.   (Wikimedia Commons)
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(Newser) – As newspapers hemorrhage cash, the refrain is getting louder: the Web is sucking away their audiences and can never replicate the serious journalism they offer. The argument sounds familiar, Jack Shafer writes for Slate: It’s the one newspapers used against radio 80 years ago. Radio was then seen as the death of print, delivering reports instantly and allegedly cheapening the “sacred rhetoric” of written journalism.

In the 1920s and ‘30s, print journalists railed that radio journalism was sloppy and inaccurate, or else it was simply regurgitating headlines from newspaper stories. It took years before print and radio were able to coexist peacefully, but the skirmishes are a reminder, writes Shafer, that “the newspaper industry was as shameless in the 1930s as it is today.”