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1 .<-NARRATOR:->Listen to part of a conversation between a student and her history professor.
1 .<-FEMALE STUDENT:->So I definitely wanna write my term paper on American journalism in the eighteenth century.
2 .That old copy of the New York Daily Gazette you showed us, the one printed from the library's microfilm... just seeing a newspaper that was published in 1789, that was really cool.
1 .<-MALE PROFESSOR:->Yes, reading old newspapers can be a powerful experience, especially to a budding historian like yourself.
2 .As a resource for scholars and researchers, I don't think any form of publication really captures the day-to-day life of a community better than a local newspaper.
1 .<-FEMALE STUDENT:->Yeah, I mean I knew that the number of newspapers exploded in the eighteenth century, but I figured they all deteriorated before the technology was invented to preserve them, or y'know, make copies.
1 .<-MALE PROFESSOR:->Well, actually, before the mid-1800s, newspapers were printed on fairly sturdy paper made from cotton fibers. Those that survived are in surprisingly good shape.
1 .<-FEMALE STUDENT:->Are there many more copies of the Gazette on microfilm.
1 .<-MALE PROFESSOR:->Yeah, we've got a great microfilm library on campus. You'll find it invaluable, I'm sure, as you research your paper.
2 .Um, but also talk to the librarians, because they're creating an online archive of their microfilm collection.
3 .I'm not sure of the project's status, but if it's done, it'll probably save you time.
4 .[getting back on topic] So, um, eighteenth-century journalism; you must realize that that topic's too broad for this assignment.
1 .<-FEMALE STUDENT:->I do. So one idea I had was like, looking at an important world event, like maybe the French Revolution of 1789, since we just finished a unit on it.
2 .The readings you had given us were incredibly vivid; I loved them. But they were translations of French writers...historians.
3 .So, I thought it'd be interesting to pick the Gazette and one other American newspaper to see how each covered the Revolution, how the journalists reported it from America's perspective...
1 .<-MALE PROFESSOR:->Hmm. Interesting approach. But remember, I'll be grading your paper based on the details you include.
2 .And at some point in your paper, you'll want to focus on a particular event of the Revolution, like maybe the storming of the Bastille prison?
1 .<-FEMALE STUDENT:->How 'bout the formation of the French National Constituent Assembly?
1 .<-MALE PROFESSOR:->Sure, that would work.
1 .<-FEMALE STUDENT:->And since I'm gonna look at newspapers from two cities, I could read the editorials, the opinion pieces, to find out what each community thought about the National Assembly.
1 .<-MALE PROFESSOR:->[warningly, not excitedly] OK, but... y'know, I once attended a history conference where a professor presented a paper on the American press in the French Revolution.
2 .She was discussing the development of democratic ideals here and in France at the time.
3 .[cautioning student against overgeneralizing] But, ah, she also pointed out that using old newspapers as primary sources... to be aware that they reflected the values of only a segment of society and should not be used to draw conclusions about all Americans.
4 .[no regrets] I don't think I held onto her paper, but it was subsequently published, so you'll have no trouble tracking it down on the Internet. Let me give you her name...