Newstelling: Story and themes in the Courant of Hartford from 1765 to 1945.

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

Robert Ward Dardenne

Document Type


Publication Date


Date Issued

January 1993

Date Available

November 2014


“News is seen as discrete items of timely, accurate information. Researchers have studied its making, creation, or construction, and its relationship to real events it reports. This study approaches news as story; seeing it as a text, exploring its themes and relationships over time, focusing on portrayal of individuals. Textual analysis of about 800 newspapers--1765 to 1945--of The Courant of Hartford, the country's oldest continuously published newspaper, explores the story aspects of news. Four major article types were reports, straightforward, unembellished tellings of facts in chronological or inverted pyramid order; self-contained stories, providing a beginning, middle, end, and semblance of plot; accounts, building detail and description on the stark facts of the report; and features, characterized by extreme detail, use of people, and explanations of events and people. Sources in news gradually became more official and news more bureaucratic. Voice of the reporter and even the paper eventually yielded to that of the official, expert, authority, and celebrity. News in various periods promoted American ideals and Connecticut Yankee values; it changed from certainty of the present and past, to doubt and speculation about the future. Throughout the 1700s and much of the 1800s, human beings were portrayed as gullible and manipulated, with dark natures that erupted in violence when stimulated by alcohol or left outside controlling influences of government and religion. Through the middle 1800s, powerful natural forces left hapless humans at their mercy, killing at will. Later, trains, automobiles, radio, and other technological advances helped conquer nature, but created their own problems. News emphasized people more in later decades, but usually as sources. The more people are emphasized, the less readers learn about them as people. Self-contained stories were often about human values and ideals, but the continuing story, introduced in 1845, followed events day-to-day, and while concentrating on people, emphasized information and detail. The continuing story brought with it journalistic concerns of time and proximity. News in the era of the continuing story was more connected, as journalistic narrative style tied more events together, creating a story view of the world.”


Kappa Tau Alpha, Murray Fellowship Award. PhD dissertation, University of Iowa. Abstract only. For full access, check out the book through your local library, request it on interlibrary loan, or order it through a book dealer.




University of Iowa

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