Monday, May 12, 2014

News and trust.

I am reading a book right now called "The Invention of the News: How the World Came to Know About Itself" by Andrew Pettegree. You can find out more about the tome (500 pages) here.

Basically, the book goes through a variety of Middle-Ages revolutions and how they affected communications.

News of Kings dying, of people being hanged, of Crusades being organized and propagated, of heretics being burned was originally transmitted by word of mouth. Since most people in the Middle-Ages hardly ever left the town they were born in, this news most often came to town via itinerant travelers or the King's men. In fact, in the Middle Ages, news was not considered credible unless you knew who it came from.

Later, say the mid-15th Century as paper, the printing press and courier services arrived, news became more widespread, people slowly became accustomed to reading the news. But most people still preferred to hear things first hand.

The internet of the day was, of course, the inn or tavern. There was a reason England was Merrie. There was one pub per every 20 adult males.

Eventually, people began to trust written news because it came from writers and presses that had developed trust over time. But much of the news was transmitted through balladeers who would sing news and what we would today call an "editorial." These ditties were the viral videos of their day.

I'm working my way through this. And working through the parallels to our industry and our times today.

There will be more to come on this topic.

Because there's nothing like reading a book on the Middle Ages to help make you realize that nothing today is new.

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