The first regularly published American newspaper, the Boston News-Letter, appeared in Boston in 1704. It was not long before daily newspapers appeared in major cities across America.
The first true American newspapers were largely political in coverage, supporting or criticizing the views and records of politicians. Their relatively high price of six cents per copy put them out of reach of most people.
About 1830, some papers began to publish the news in smaller sheet sizes that working people could afford. Soon there were many small-sheet newspapers competing for the mass market. Called penny papers because many sold for one cent per copy, they emphasized news over politics and featured human-interest stories as well as editorial commentary.
By the late 1800's, a number of large daily newspapers exerted considerable influence on their readers in the United States. Publishers began to feel their power. Some made a conscious effort to serve the public interest and, sometimes, to sway public opinion. They acquired many newspapers, creating nationwide chains of ownership. Aggressive competition and an interest in controversial news stories set the tone for modern journalism.
At about the same period, national wire services came into being. The first in the United States was the Associated Press, started in 1848. These services provided breaking news to newspapers all over the world, first by telegraph and later by teletype.
Magazines became popular in the mid-1800's but at first focused on fields of special interest rather than on general news. At the turn of the century, some magazine journalists attacked corruption in business and government. These reformers were called muckrakers, because they unearthed information usually hidden from the general public.
Time, the first weekly newsmagazine, was founded in 1923. Other magazines of news and political commentary soon followed, including Newsweek, U.S. News, and the Nation.
The development of radio communication early in the 1900's enabled the use of radio broadcasting for communicating news by about 1920. Network radio began during the 1920's with the founding of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) and the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). Many print journalists moved to radio, changing their writing style to briefer reports made up of short sentences intended for the ear rather than the eye. Radio became a very important news medium for reporting the latest news during World War II, but its significance was reduced after the war by the rise of television.
Motion pictures were a popular news medium during the 1930's and throughout World War II, when newsreels of current news, sports, and general-interest events were shown in movie theaters. However, this use of movies was largely replaced by nationwide television broadcasts by the mid-1950's.
Television grew rapidly after World War II, and many radio journalists transferred their skills to the new medium. In the United States, television coverage of such major events as the Army-McCarthy hearings, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the Vietnam War established television's position as an important journalistic medium capable of reaching millions of people at the same moment. News shows were broadcast every evening, and soon a majority of U.S. citizens were getting their news from television.
Beginning in the 1960's, communications satellites allowed worldwide transmission of television broadcasts. In 1980, the Cable News Network (CNN) became the first television station to provide news 24 hours a day. Other cable stations provide news on particular subjects. CNBC focuses on financial news, and C-SPAN covers government and public meetings throughout the United States.