The newspaper press in nineteenth-century Newfoundland : politics, religion, and personal journalism

Whelan, Maudie (2002) The newspaper press in nineteenth-century Newfoundland : politics, religion, and personal journalism. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

Given Newfoundland's geographical constraints, its small and scattered population, limited readership, and prevailing illiteracy, the large number of newspapers published throughout the nineteenth century is a paradox demanding closer attention. These newspapers contain fragments of a fishing society's history still unexamined. Temperance and poverty are only two such examples. Bound up with religion and politics, which have characterized Newfoundland history generally, these volatile issues also infused its journalism. Although used extensively as sources Dy historians, the newspapers have not been approached as a legitimate field of study in their own right. This thesis begins to correct the anomaly. -- It examines approximately 25 different newspapers during the years between 1832 and 1899, and reviews an early period, 1807 to 1832, during which the newspaper press was established. The discussion reveals the complexities of the press of the society it reflected and shaped. Censorship at the beginning, led gradually to more liberal laws, followed by a mix of political patronage and commercial independence. The press, confined until the late 1870s to St. John's and Conception Bay on the Avalon Peninsula, the centre of government, trade, and commerce, reinforced the differentiation between urban and rural life. Journalism expressed the personal religious beliefs and political ambitions of publishers and editors. Their demise, and that of their newspapers, marked the beginning of a new era in the 1880s, when a new outport press emerged, and a daily press developed in St. John's. -- Literacy improved over time, but the habit of reading newspapers remained the prerogative of the elite in urban centres where it had been cultivated. Twillingate sustained a local newspaper, due in part, to the prevalence of wage-based industry, and a daily press in St. John's survived. The introduction of the telegraph and railway did not, as might have been expected, spur the expansion of the newspaper market. Editors avoided criticism of the telegraph monopoly and exploited the political railway debate, seemingly without seriously considering their potential for a newspaper industry. To the end of the century, the Newfoundland press remained a marginal force for change in the lives of the people.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/1490
Item ID: 1490
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 338-365
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > History
Date: 2002
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Journalism--Newfoundland and Labrador--History; Newfoundland and Labrador newspapers--19th century

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