DeFranco_GoogleNgrams Assignment

Screen shot 2015-03-05 at 11.11.52 PMFor the Ngrams assignment I chose to look at the comparison between newspapers and magazines and I found it interesting that newspapers surpassed magazines around 1815. This could have happened for many reasons but I’ve made a few inferences. The first is that, though newspapers, in their earliest form, were first developed in the 1600s, it was not until the early 1800s that they began to become more standard, available and affordable. This is indicated where the increase in the word newspaper becomes clearly defined around 1825. Before this, both ‘newspaper’ and ‘magazine’ were pretty steady over the years with magazines even beginning on top. My theory for the much slower growth of magazines is that, like today, magazines were bought mostly for soft stories and entertainment. So big news events that effected the sales and popularity of newspapers had little to no effect on magazines.

The sharp rise of newspapers in the early 1830s was most likely brought about by the following societal developments: First, in 1831 The famous abolitionist newspaper The Liberator is first published by William Lloyd Garrison. Second, there was the The New York Sun newspaper that in 1833 cost one cent–this was the beginning of the penny press. Another spike shown on the chart for newspapers is around 1880. In this year the first halftone photograph (Shantytown) was published in a newspaper, most likely increasing their popularity. At the same time advertising was becoming more and more relevant with the first whole page newspaper ad placed by an American department store (John Wanamaker) was run in 1879. I imagine this would also increase the mentions of the word newspaper over time.

As for magazines there didn’t seem to be any spikes until about 1855. When I researched possible reasoning for this I found that in 1855 Illustrated London News published a Christmas special with a color cover produced using colored wood blocks. This magazine sold 130,000 copies a week–10 times the daily sale of The Times. That may have had something to do with that blip. When magazines start to grow steadily at the end of the 19th century this is most likely because, like newspapers, magazines began to increase in availability and affordability–leading to popularity.

Sources:
http://inventors.about.com/od/pstartinventions/a/printing_4.htm
http://www.magforum.com/time.htm

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