Encyclopaedia

To address questions about accuracy, the journal Nature tested 43 entries in Wikipedia and in the Encyclopaedia Britannica and found both amazingly accurate. Wikipedia did, however, have four errors for every three in Britannica, but errors were rare in both places. A 2010 study of toxicology, cancer research, and drug entries found that Wikipedia’s depth and coverage were comparable with physician databases.

Whatever the pros and cons of Wikipedia, it represents the techno-driven environment in which print media—whether in the book, newspaper, or magazine industries—will survive or fail. For many companies solidly wedded to ink-on-paper technologies, the prospects are not good. A media revolution is in progress.

5.1 Mass Media as Industries

Study Preview Mass media products traditionally came from seven legacy industries. They have been called legacy industries because some argue that they represent a heritage rather than a reflection of the current media environment. Newspapers, historically, have been the dominant one and have shaped other media industries, including magazines, books, recordings, movies, radio, and television.

Learning Objectives By the end of this module you will be able to:

  1. 5.1.1 Assess the legacy of the print media revolution
  2. 5.1.2 Outline the factors contributing to the industrial revolution

5.1.1 Legacy Industries 1. Objective: Assess the legacy of the print media revolution

Had Johannes Gutenberg been alive four centuries after inventing his revolutionary printing techniques, he would have recognized the print shops. In 1833, for example, Benjamin Day started his New York Sun with the same kind of hand-operated press that Gutenberg used in the 15th century. Like Gutenberg, Day assembled pages of type by drawing one metal-cast letter at a time from a tray to form a word, a line, a column, and a page. Just like 400 years earlier, printing was still a craft practiced in small shops—often a family enterprise with an occasional helper or apprentice. Printing in 1833 was a cottage industry, although the word industry is too grandiose.

Soon, though, printing made quantum technological leaps, and within the next 20 years, quaint print shops in leading cites evolved into major business enterprises. Gutenberg would not have recognized the giant presses that could roll out thousands

of copies of a finished product in an hour. These were still ink-on-paper products, but the new technologies facilitated production on a huge, unprecedented scale. Investment in these technologies catalyzed the boon in three ink-on-paper industries —newspapers, magazines, and books. By the mid-1800s, printers who made the transition from their cottage industries to such mega-enterprises amassed fortunes.

Grand, imposing edifices bore witness to the power and influence of the newspaper empires. By 1906, the leading New York papers, the World, Tribune, and Times, had erected buildings in Manhattan that dwarfed City Hall. The street was called Newspaper Row. Leading book and magazine publishing companies also had elegant, and in some cases, palatial headquarters.

New Media Structures and Business Models The small printshops had evolved into different structures—companies. Cumulatively, those companies comprised media industries. Throughout the majority of modern media history, newspapers were the largest and the most influential of these industries. Within the range of media industries, there were diverse enterprises, each of which produced a distinctive product. The successful ink-on-paper industries created the business models on which both the seven legacy media industries (books, newspapers, magazines, recording, movies, radio, and television industries of the 20th century) and later media conglomerates were based.

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