Master of Mass Communication (MMC)


Mass Communication

Document Type



The rise of the American penny press in the 1830s is thought of as a crucial moment in journalism history that precipitated changes in newspapers that are still evident today. Yet, many specific characteristics of the transition from a predominantly elite mercantile and partisan press to the popular penny press remain unknown, including the changes that occurred in foreign news coverage. This study will examine four newspapers, two mercantile and two penny, printed in New York City from 1830 to 1842. It will use quantitative content analysis of five variables – frequency, length, prominence, content, and presentation style – to compare foreign news coverage between the different newspapers and over time. Contrary to expectations, the newspapers exhibited only small differences in foreign news, indicating the limitation of the dichotomous distinction between the mercantile and penny press. Rather, the newspapers showed characteristics of more nuanced market segmentation, with each newspaper fitting a particular niche of news coverage. Most importantly, this study will attempt to establish a baseline for researching the historical nature of foreign news coverage.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Hamilton, John M.