The development of unbiased newspaper printing

Posted: October 6, 2010 in Uncategorized

Wood pulp = the doorway to free, unbiased news.

At least, that’s what NPR said in an interesting interview.

The beginning was interesting. It started out as an argument between the two hosts on how much one would pay for a pizza. Apparently there is a pizza show nearby that sells a pie for 30 bucks! That sounds crazy to me too. But according to their guest economist, University of Chicago economist, Matthew Gentzkow, he’d pay that much for a really good piece of pizza.

But of course, that’s not what the podcast was really about (although, I must say it was a catchy opener that made me hungry for pizza). But basically the interview was about our rapidly changing global economic growth. Gentzkow said we’ve progressed because of good intentions. But it’s not just that. We’ve progressed as a society because of implementation of basic economics principles.

Gentzkow explains in the podcast how advances in printing helped newspapers expand their audience beyond just one political party. Since the early 1800s, newspapers would print what certain candidates wanted based on funding from that party’s advertisement purchases. But of course this couldn’t go on forever. Newspapers had to do a cross-benefit analysis. What content would provide them with the most readers? Does that outweigh the benefit of pleasing one particular party?

But when printing rates went down because of increased innovations in newspaper printing (ie. wood pulp vs. linen based paper and the invention of the telegraph), newspapers were freed by the need to have funding by outside parties.

My favorite quote from the podcast: “We owe our independent press to cheap wood pulp.”

 

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