It took many years before journalism became established as a profession. Sometimes, journalists sensationalized their stories with details that were not true. Journalists might also change sides, and many people felt that early reporters were not always good sources of information. However, this didn't stop them from reading the news!
During England's Civil Wars in the 1640s, many journalists and publishers supported either the king, Charles I, or Oliver Cromwell and his army, who were known as "Parliamentarians."
Reporters and Publishers
Jane Coe: One of the few female printers in London, Jane Coe built a successful business after her husband's death. She specialized in political pamphlets and newspapers, and wasn't afraid to take sides during the English Civil War. In fact, she was a strong opponent of the monarchy and King Charles II.
Sir Roger L'Estrange: Sir Roger, whose portrait is on this page, was a government censor. He also wrote pamphlets and started a newspaper, The Observator, to spread news and ideas that supported the government and the king.
Samuel Pecke: Samuel Pecke is often considered the first English journalist. After selling copies of political speeches and other documents related to government affairs, he eventually became a newsbook editor. Unlike some of the other writers of this time period, he had a reputation as a fair and respectable reporter.
Benjamin Harris: Benjamin Harris started the first American newspaper in 1690 in Boston. Although he intended to publish Publick Occurrences monthly, his first issue was also his last. The governor and other authorities shut down the newspaper because they didn't like some of the things that Harris printed. It was 14 years before someone else started a newspaper in Boston.
Marchamont Nedham: In addition to his long and colorful writing career, Nedham is know for often changing sides. He wrote for both the Parliamentarians and the king's supporters, and later had stints writing in favor of Oliver Cromwell before switching his allegiance to Charles II.
Why do you think that journalists have a Code of Ethics to "seek the truth and report it" today?