History of Science Journalism

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1870-1920

Journalism during This Era

Newspapers become information enterprises

At the dawn of the 20th Century, the industrial and economic boom in Canada led to changes in the newspaper business. Most newspapers distanced themselves from political parties, reporting more on current events. Progressively, the opinion-oriented press yielded to an information press.

Daily newspapers with the greatest circulation were the Star (1869-1979) and La Presse (1884-), both based in Montréal. They focused on public journalism, reporting on local events affecting the ordinary man and campaigns in favour of the working class. Thus, these newspapers targeted the growing working population in an industrial city like Montréal. Because increasing numbers of people now knew how to read, the number of potential readers also increased.

Evolution of the circulation of the Star and La Presse (1885-1920)
  Star La Presse
1885 23 803 9 852
1890 30 563 16 898
1895 38 603 34 346
1900 50 941 66 147
1905 56 674 85 440
1910 68 850 97 050
1915 109 429 138 229
1920 105 032 141 573

Improved methods of transportation and telecommunications

Technical progress in transportation and telecommunications facilitated news gathering. The railway and electric tramway allowed reporters to converge quickly on the locations of events. The telephone provided fast access to sources of information. Telephone lines linked the entire continent. Radiotelegraphy (wireless telegraph) transmitted news from many international press agencies, generally in under 24 hours.

Canada was a vast, sparsely populated country. In 1917, to facilitate the exchange of news across the country, a group of newspaper editors created The Canadian Press (La Presse Canadienne). This was the country's first national press agency to produce its own dispatches and reports. Service in French at this agency began in 1951.

Specialized journalism and changes in page make-up

The work of the journalist was becoming specialized. Reporters collected information on events in the field while writers worked at publishing the newspaper. Some journalists (reporters or writers) were assigned sources or particular subjects, for example City Hall to cover municipal politics. Journalists (reporters, writers and news agency correspondents) prepared almost all newspaper articles.

Parallel to this, other types of journalism were emerging: reporting, interviewing, etc. News and reporting were taking on new forms and specific styles.

Journalism was becoming a trade unto itself, but working conditions remained difficult: many hours per day and week and low-paying wages. Some women joined the ranks of daily newspapers.

Block Calendar

Some significant facts related to the press as an industry

Media Creation
1869 The Evening Star
1884 La Presse
1894 L'Album industriel
1903 Le Canada
1910 Le Devoir
1919 La Revue moderne (merged with Châtelaine in 1960)
1926 Petit Journal
1930 Ancestor of the Montréal Matin: Illustration from 1930 to 1936; Illustration Nouvelle from 1936 to 1941
1930 Montréal-Matin
Other Facts
1860-1880 Wood pulp replaced cotton fibre in the production of newspaper.
1870-1880 Newspapers and magazines introduced illustrations.
The rotary press came into use.