The Labor History of News in the US Before the World War I

Author: John Nerone


The article attempts to provide a labor history of the news through the period of the industrialization of the news system in the United States. It begins by characterizing newswork as labor and questioning the division between intellectual and mechanical labor in the news industry. It then surveys the mode of production of news, identifying occupational pressures and the evolving division of labor. Using the minutes of select locals of the International Typographical Union (ITU), it offers observations on craft unions in newspapers; it then contrasts that history with the professionalization project of newsroom workers. It concludes by considering the counterfactual possibility of journalists organizing as craft workers in concert with typographers, and wondering whether such a project would have offered a way of redressing persistent class biases in capitalist news systems.

Key words: history, journalism, labor, newswork, typography, unionism
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