Then & Now
Bringing War Front News to the Home Front
The outbreak of the Civil War spurred tremendous growth and change in the role of newspapers. The public was hungry for current news of a war that was geographically widespread yet touched the people of every community. Larger New York City newspapers like the Herald, Tribune and Times organized news gathering efforts using war correspondents who followed the armies and reported back on battles. News organizations like the Associated Press supplied smaller newspapers with up-to-date information. The telegraph enabled news to be transmitted on a daily basis rather than days or weeks later, which meant correspondents could pose problems for army commanders who were concerned about leaking troop movements and other strategic combat details. Local newspapers also printed personal letters and lists of missing, dead and wounded.
Newspapers not only influenced how people at home saw the war, but they also helped keep soldiers informed about the political debates on the causes and conduct of the war. As many as 25,000 copies of the Philadelphia Inquirer were sold in military camps and avidly read by the soldiers.
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