The Paragraph as Information Technology: How News Traveled in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World

Abstract : The newspapers of the 18th-century Atlantic World copied, translated and corrected each other. The basic technology that facilitated the transmission of international news was the paragraph, a textual unit easily detached from one source and inserted into another. In 18th century London the paragraph took on a new political significance, becoming a distinct genre of publicity and an expedient vehicle for exporting messages abroad. But thanks to editorial interventions, the form and content of news reports evolved as they traveled from one place to another. Integrating scholarship on journalism in Europe, Great Britain and the United States, this article compares reports in French-, English- and Spanish-language newspapers in order to reveal the process of news making. Two detailed examples from the American Revolutionary war demonstrate how political news in the Age of Revolutions was a collaborative process linking printers, translators, readers, and ship captains on both sides of the Atlantic. In doing so it highlights the importance of the paragraph as an object of historical study.
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Will Slauter. The Paragraph as Information Technology: How News Traveled in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World. Annales HSS, 2012, 67 (2), pp.253 - 78. ⟨http://www.cairn-int.info/article-E_ANNA_672_0363--the-paragraph-as-information-technology.htm⟩. ⟨hal-01446908⟩

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