The Folger Shakespeare Library recently opened their newest exhibit Breaking News: Renaissance Journalism and the Birth of the Newspaper on September 25. The exhibit runs through January 31, 2009 and is free to the public. I recently had a delightful Q&A session with Jason Peacey, one of the exhibit’s curators and a Lecturer in History at University College London, and Amy Arden at the Folger here in DC.
Give us an idea what a visitor to the Folger’s latest exhibit should expect.
Breaking News follows the story of the newspaper from England to America. Visitors will see many things that they recognize, from the kinds of topics covered – politics, natural disasters, extreme religious sects, crime – to the actual format of newspapers from this period with headlines, columns, and serialized issues. One thing that may surprise people is how much of a role wartime reporting played in launching the newspaper; during the 1640s civil war raged in England between the supporters of the king (known as Royalists) and the supporters of Oliver Cromwell and Parliament (the Parliamentarians). Both sides produced their own accounts of the conflict and printed newspapers in an attempt to sway public opinion in their favor. It was a ripe time to be a journalist!