Why did national press grow so dominant during the 20th Century

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Why did the National Press become so dominant in the Twentieth Century?

Hayley Clarke

The dominance of the national press in the twentieth century was caused by a number of factors that had occurred during the nineteenth century as well as the twentieth. One aspect that may have influenced the national press during the twentieth century was that journalists and newspaper companies had more freedom.  There were fewer restrictions for journalists and newspaper companies to follow.

The national press’ growing dominance during the twentieth century was due to many different factors; people were more educated in the twentieth century, they had more money, more free time and people knew what they wanted.  This essay will explore the factors that caused the press to grow so much in such a short time.

By the twentieth century the press was free from taxation. The stamp act, which had taxed knowledge, was abolished in 1855 enabling newspapers to charge as little or as much as they liked. Cheaper newspapers meant more consumers. This led to increased competition between rival newspapers. With all the newspapers dropping their prices the control of the national press definitely grew, more newspapers were being produced meeting high demands from consumers. People were also starting to earn more money during this period giving them a higher disposable income. They could afford to spend more on leisure.

The growth of the national press in Britain during the twentieth century was parallel to what was occurring in society. During the twentieth century, government realised that people needed more leisure time. Working hours were reduced and people were starting to get paid better. With more money and time, people bought more newspapers and magazines contributing to the national press’ growth. Before working hours were reduced it was the Sunday papers that had the most readers. Sunday was the day of rest for most people meaning they had more time to go out and read newspapers.  

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The Education Act of 1870 also caused the expansion of the press, more people were learning to read and write, arguably because of the press. Earlier arguments against the printing press were formed because not many could read or write, which some organisations such as the Church of England wanted to maintain. As the popularity of the press grew so did the number of people wanting to learn to read and write. By 1900 an estimated 97% of the British population were literate.  With the growth of education and literacy came a thirst for more knowledge and during the ...

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