The History of the Media
From Monastery to Profitability
From the beginning of printing in the Western world, around 1450, publishing rapidly
expanded from monasteries to stationers who produced and sold hand-copied books in
limited quantities. Since Europe's stationers and printers had increasing commercial
incentives to publish and sell books, they sought more titles and distribution channels.
As businesses developed a pro. t motive for expanding the ranks of the reading public,
the new print media left the limited distribution of early manuscripts behind and began
reaching for larger audiences.
Starting in 1517, the religious conflict fomented by the Protestant Reformation helped
the printers' cause. Reformation leaders relied on the printing press to promulgate their
theology, becoming perhaps the reform movement in history to use print to promote
its cause. The Counter-Reformation (starting around 1570) also used print to persuade
its followers. Protestants encouraged Bible reading, which helped foster literacy.
accelerated in the 1600s, when Germany's Petist movement and England's Puritans promoted daily Bible study. Traders on early commercial routes carried written messages as well as cargo. And,
by the late-1400s, private postal networks linked much of Europe, aided by state postal
systems in France (from the late 1400s) and England (from 1516). These systems
extended service to individuals to recoup costs and monitor private communications. By
1600, these postal links helped create news networks with correspondents who provided
economic and political news. This gave rise to commercial newsletters which printed
commodity prices and exchange rates as early as the late 1500s. The . rst public news
compendium appeared weekly in Austria in the early 1600s. By 1620, seven major
European cities had weekly newspapers. Although newspapers were banned in England
until 1636, their development accelerated as the English revolution brewed. As of 1712,
some 20 weekly papers were...