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Printer-Editors

Stephen J. A. Ward


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Printers acted as editors from the origin of printing in eastern and western society. But Gutenberg's press in the mid-fifteenth century gave birth to journalistic printer-editors who published news regularly and informed a wide public (→  Journalism, History of ). These early journalists used book production techniques to generate broadsheets, pamphlets, mercuries, intelligencers, gazettes, and newsbooks ( Boyce et al. 1978 ). Under the eye of monarchs and their censors (→  Censorship ), they disseminated reports on war, discoveries, and omens, and campaigned for or against political and religious movements across Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as part of an emerging western print culture ( Eisenstein 1979 ). These printer-editors emerged in two stages ( Briggs & Burke 2002 ). From the second half of the 1500s to the early 1600s, before the establishment of a periodic press, printer-editors were relatively obscure, were scattered widely, and operated small presses under strict censorship. Their occasional publications tended to focus on one topic or event. The second stage extended to the eighteenth century, when printer-editors became periodic journalists, publishing well-known weekly or biweekly papers in major cities. Printer-editors gleaned their material from many sources: officials for court gossip, soldiers for accounts of battles, alleged eyewitnesses ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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