Downtown, History, Interviews, Special Events, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: “Breaking News”

Courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library

A true and exact relation of the late prodigious earthquake & eruption of Mount Ætna. London, 1669

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!

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DC Print Media: Alive and Well

Newspaper boxes stretching from Dupont Circle to the Balitmore Sun

Newspaper boxes stretching from Dupont Circle to the Balitmore Sun

I’m sitting here in Dupont Circle looking at the newspaper stand and I’m amazed at the plethora of print available to the interested reader. Just on this side of the block alone, we have 15 different periodicals to choose from. Everything from the Wall Street Journal, to the Falls Church News-Press, to The Creek (a fiercely independent newspaper), to Bash Magazine (a monthly comic alternative).

All these paper-media options tells me that while we at WeLoveDC embrace the Internets, there’s still much offline reading going on.

It also indicates that there is strong competition to the Washington City Paper’s dominance of local alternative news. With Politico, The Examiner, and the Express, WCP no longer rules the free weekly roost like it did in the 90’s.

But it does make me wonder: what’s your free newspaper paper choice?