Then & Now
The Role of Newspapers
Newspapers ran local advertisements and announcements and carried stories of national and international interest, but the stories were far from objective. Reporting was overseen primarily by editors and publishers who clearly represented their opinions and favoritism for a particular political party. Local newspaper editorials were partisan propaganda designed to praise their party’s candidates and vilify its opponents.
Newspapers were also active in the debate over slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War and remain important primary source material in documenting this debate. Two New York City newspapers, Horace Greeley’s Tribune and Gordon Bennett’s Herald, took opposite sides in this debate, with the Tribune opposing slavery while the Herald criticized abolitionists and supported secession. William Lloyd Garrison of Massachusetts founded his abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator, in 1831, and former slave Frederick Douglass edited the North Star in Rochester, New York.
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