INQUIRY 7: PRECEDENT
The Mystery of Washington's Printed Past
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Newspapers to use: All for reference and comparison.
Note: Students work in three large groups to develop one large exhibit on newspapers, printing technology, and change over time.
What is the concept of historical precedent?
How does the concept of precedent apply to changes in newspaper technology and reporting?
Ideas build upon one another. In its simplest form, precedent means "coming before." This could refer to an incident, an object, or an idea that came before the one being studied. For example, before automobiles were invented, people traveled in horse-drawn carriages. The earliest automobiles looked like "horseless carriages," with the carriages setting the precedent for the design of early automobiles.
In legal terms, precedent means to justify a present decision. Back in 1910 when the women of Washington were granted the right to vote, precedent for this had been set by a handful of other states. The granting of the vote in Washington State helped set the stage for women earning the right to vote on a national level ten years later in 1920.
Inquiry Set-up for Students:
As an established exhibit design firm, your class has been hired to design an exhibit on the history of newspapers in Washington State. Knowing this will be a large task, you divide your firm into three work groups each dealing with a different aspect of the newspaper mystery. Those three work groups are:
Newspaper History, Printing Technology, and Newspaper Statistics.
The research questions for each of the work groups are as follows:
- What was the first newspaper printed in Washington State? Where was it located?
- What were the names of some of the earliest newspapers in Washington and who published them?
- When was the Seattle Times founded, why, and by whom?
- When was the local newspaper in your area founded?
- Who were some of the first female and minority reporters to work for newspapers in the state?
- What does the term "lineotype" refer to and what does it have to do with printing?
- What does "dpi" stand for? Where in a newspaper is this most obvious?
- Are any newspapers in Washington still printed on a letterpress? If so, where?
- Has the paper used for newspaper printing changed in the last 100 years? If so, how?
- What are the most significant changes in printing technology that have taken place over the last 200 years?
- How many newspapers are currently published in Washington?
- How much does it currently cost to place a half-page advertisement in a newspaper such as the Seattle Times?
- How much paper is used to print an average Sunday edition of the Seattle Times?
- How many sections does the Seattle Times have and what are they? How does this differ from earlier editions such as 1900 and 1920? (Note: You'll probably have to look at microfilm in order to figure this out.)
- What is the current circulation of the Seattle Times and how does that compare to its early years?
Work in your groups to gather the answers to these questions. You will then present your findings to the class via a "Printing Through Time" exhibit.
Activity Plan: Teacher Directions
Step 1: Divide the class into 3 groups. Assign each group one of the three different exhibit sections (Newspaper History, Printing Technology, Newspaper Statistics).
Step 2: Have students in each group investigate and obtain the answers to the questions for each exhibit section.
Step 3: All student groups then work together to decide how they will construct and interpret their sections of the exhibit. It may be helpful to appoint a student team leader or Project Manager for each team who will coordinate the construction of their team's portion of the exhibit.
Step 4: Discuss the concept of precedent and have students establish an order of precedent for their information.
Step 5: Students work together to build and install the exhibit. Invite your school administrators and parents to the exhibit opening.
Suggested Materials and Resources:
Book on the history of printing
Book: Raise Hell and Sell Newspapers: Alden J. Blethen & The Seattle Times
Site visits to Seattle Times' Printing Facility (Bothell, WA)
and Washington State History Museum (Tacoma, WA)
Reading 1.1-1.3, 1.5, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2
Writing 1.1-1.3, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1-3.5
Communication: 2.2, 2.4, 3.1-3.3, 4.1-4.3
History 2.1-2.3, 3.1-3.3
Arts: 1.4, 1.5, 3.1, 4.1