the division of labor principle

The Herald was a quick success, surpassing the circulation of the other local newspapers. Bennett organized the modern newsroom, applying the division of labor principle. Reporters were assigned subjects to cover and were responsible for being first with news on their subjects. News beats, as they were called, included the police, the courts, and other fertile subjects for news. New York, then 150,000 people, was large and complex enough that nothing short of a beat system could come close to comprehensive coverage. Bennett’s system recognized that finding a broad audience meant covering a wide range of subjects and issues. News in the Bennett Model was largely reactive. The role of the journalist was to cover events as they unfolded. Bennett did not emphasize investigative reporting in which reporters set out proactively to unearth news. Rather, events unfolded, and journalists reported on them.

In short, Bennett’s sense of his audience’s interests and his innovations established a foundation for newsgathering practices and techniques for packaging news stories. The Bennett Model has become a baseline in understanding of what comprises news.

6.2.2 Bennett Model Components 1. Objective: Analyze the components of the model proposed by James

Gordon Bennett

James Gordon Bennett’s techniques were imitated quickly by other news outlets, finding larger and larger audiences.

Compelling Events Reporting on events became an art form, transforming newspapers into a major industry through the 1900s. The basic human hunger for information was being satisfied as never before in history. At the same time, the emerging role of consumers in the economy drew advertisers to newspapers. The purchase of advertising space made for thicker dailies from the 1830s on. Demand then led to both morning and evening editions, and then to multiple editions in both the morning and evening news cycles. Like hungry lions, newspapers were always in need of fresh meat to fill the paper. To feed the lions, reporters leaped from one unfolding event to the next. Competition for big stories was keen. The news business was an adrenaline rush for reporters and a vicarious rush for readers.

Murder in the Whorehouse. The murderer steals away in this artist’s reconstruction of the 1836 murder scene of Helen Jewett in a New York brothel. Public interest in the murder had first been fanned by journalistic innovator James Gordon Bennett who listened in while detectives quizzed the brothel’s madame after Jewett was found dead in her burning bed. Bennett’s account made a compelling story and prompted who-dun-it interest for decades.

Deadline-Driven Bennett’s focus on beating other penny papers grew heated. Pressure to get the latest developments in the soonest possible edition became intense. Readers were dazzled at getting reports faster than they’d ever imagined, but in time they expected nothing less. The telegraph was invented in 1844 and within only four years, all the major cities were linked by wire—even Chicago and Milwaukee, locations considered to be in the distant “west.”

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