Abstract: News Networks and the Creation of a National Newspaper Industry in Eighteenth-Century Britain

Victoria E. M. Gardner


This paper demonstrates how one eighteenth-century information network—the newspaper press—itself was underpinned by an expanding web of connections, and body of knowledge, between proprietors and editors. My paper reassesses the contribution of the household-family to the Industrial Revolution. In a rare consensus, economic historians accept the household-family's importance in local capital accumulation during early industrialization. Using the newspaper industry as its case study, my work revises these arguments by assigning even greater long-term importance to these family units. As the press expanded, multiple relationships fostered within the household-family (consisting of employees and apprentices, as well as the wider family) enabled the specialization of trade knowledge and the development of a collective identity as journalists and "members of the press." In this way, the press gained critical power to fight off rivals, lobby the government, and gain key victories over it.