Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Making Metropolitans Newspapers and the Urbanization of Americans 1880-1930
by Guarneri, Julia A., Ph.D., Yale University, 2012, 441; 3525211
Abstract (Summary)

Making Metropolitans offers a new view of U.S. metropolitan newspapers focused on their decades of most dramatic change and peak influence. Unlike previous journalism histories that concentrate on editorials and front-page news, this study analyzes the content and impact of "feature news" such as advice columns, travelogue articles, comic strips, and Sunday magazines. These features not only took up the bulk of newspaper pages; they also spoke most directly to the issues of urban Americans' everyday lives. A thematic survey of feature material uncovers transformative change in the news industry that is less noticeable in the era's "hard news." It brings the histories of neglected reading audiences to light, for many features pitched especially to women, to immigrants, and to working-class readers. Contextualized within the history of urbanization as well as journalistic innovation, it shows how metropolitan newspapers shaped the diverse, contentious, and commercial urban public sphere of the twentieth century.

Organized as a series of case studies that examine developments in advertising and advice, urban reportage, suburban and regional circulation, and syndication within particular metropolitan areas, this study argues that in a period of rapid urbanization and growing anonymity, newspapers shaped Americans' identities and loyalties to cities, regions, and the nation. Newspapers assimilated readers to a fast-changing urban culture, offering up identities formed by class and consumption and illustrating new models of urban manhood and womanhood. Newspapers forged readers into communities as well. On a city level, newspapers fostered a climate of civic concern and responsibility, communicating the idea that all urban residents shared a common fate. As they sparked municipal pride and cultural curiosity, papers brought both cohesion and cosmopolitanism to Progressive-era cities. On a national level—and especially through syndicated material—newspapers created a more uniform American culture that undergirded the "American century" of global influence and expansion.

Examining the political economy of newspapers reveals how newspapers fueled cities' cultural, economic, and physical expansion. Papers' circulation strategies and real estate sections facilitated suburban growth but kept suburbs tethered to downtown. Newspaper material stoked suburban and small-town readers' desires for consumer products and urban adventure, which ultimately secured cities' roles as regional hubs. In both suburbs and regions, papers functioned as basic economic infrastructure and enabled coordinated regional economies. By facilitating flows of people, goods, and information, newspapers created metropolitan regions and defined the signature traits of American urban life.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gilmore, Glenda Elizabeth
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 73/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American studies, American history, Journalism, Social structure, Urban planning
Keywords: Cities, Journalism, Newspapers, Print culture, Syndication, Urban culture, Urbanization
Publication Number: 3525211
ISBN: 978-1-267-57500-5
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