Researchers at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity explored this old-​​school viral spread, by studying 41,829 old news­pa­pers to examine how the old gray ladies facil­i­tated the transfer of arti­cles and ideas across America before the Civil War.

Just as with memes, the internet usu­ally gets too much credit for killing news­pa­pers. The news­paper that was left to be felled by Craigslist already had its lunch eaten by the last sev­eral dis­rup­tive inno­va­tions. Before tele­vi­sion (which made the pic­tures obso­lete), radio (which made news­paper speed look slow) and even paper­back books, news­pa­pers were “people’s one portal to the world,” Eng­lish pro­fessor Ryan Cordell said in his appear­ance “On the Media.” In addi­tion to news and clas­si­fieds, 19th cen­tury news­pa­pers car­ried travel jour­nals, polit­ical speeches, recipes, and poetry.

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