The telegraph and the Brazilian press

TitleThe telegraph and the Brazilian press
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Matheus, L. C.
Affiliation (1st Author)Department of Journalism from Social Comunication Faculty Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (Uerj)
Section or WGHistory Section
DateWed 26 June
Slot CodeHISW4a
Slot Code (Keyword)HISW4a
Time of Session16:00-17:30
RoomHelix - The Studio
Session TitleBroadening the scope of information and ways of dissemination
Submission ID4497

This paper analyses the adoption of the electrical telegraph by the leading newspapers at the end of the 19th century in Brazil. It focuses on the expansion of the telegraph net toward the Brazilian borders, connecting Brazil to other South Cone countries, and to Portugal. It aims at relativizing the importance of the French agency Havas in the process of popularization of telegraphy, once newspapers have developed alternative circuits for news gathering and news distribution through the new electric system. Local newspapers have also added to the supplying of news, spreading messages across important newsrooms through the telegraph. It also demonstrates the prevalence of domestic news exchanges, which widened the range of information sources, besides developing a sense of national feeling through narratives of distant regions from Rio de Janeiro, the former Brazilian capital. The empirical research identifies the origins of published telegrams, in an attempt at distinguishing between real electric transmission and those publicized letters named “Telegramms” due to their original mode of circulating as some kind of material object. The research corpus consists of ten newspapers which have circulated between 1870 and 1900: Jornal do Commercio, O Fluminense, Jornal do Brasil, Gazeta de Notícias, Diário do Rio de Janeiro; Gazeta da Tarde; O Paiz; A Pátria, Diário de Notícias, and A Cidade do Rio. This material has been compared with documents concerning telegraphic exchanges through  the public net supported by the government. Telegraphy was the first technology to set communication apart from transportation, thus affecting the perception of time and space to a certain extent. The new telegraphy technology deals with problems concerning territorial occupation by communication, redimensioning the notions of distance, of local affairs news coverage, and of international flow of information. It has implications on the concept of local/national and international news coverage. Telegraphy puts the relations between communication and territory into question, hence exposing historical inequalities in the distribution of both technological and mass media resources. In this case, these differences are marked by geopolitical factors. It does not exactly exemplify the differences between nations but the domestic differences between the Brazilian coast and countryside localities. This is why I intend to build the concept of communication distance, in order to think the relations between space and communication practices, especially in journalism.

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