Jeremy D. Popkin reconstructs the Gazette's history, providing a comprehensive picture of the environment that produced it, how it gathered and printed its reports, its relationship with its readers, and the way it depicted the great events of three critical decades. In rich detail he shows that absolutist regimes often cooperated with the Gazette's editors, providing information and condoning its publication in open violation of their own censorship regimes.
He also examines the Dutch context which fostered both the freedom that made the paper's publication possible and the technology and business skills that allowed for its rapid publication and successful marketing. In addition, he draws on a wide reading of the press of the period to compare the Gazette with other major newspapers. He concludes with a treatment of the paper's fortunes during the era of the French Revolution.
Their central question: Do the media in fact have a real influence on the unfolding of revolutionary crises? On this question, the contributors diverge, some arguing that the press does not bring about revolution but is part of the revolutionary process, others downplaying the role of the media.
Essays focus on areas as diverse as pamphlet literature, newspapers, political cartoons, and the modern electronic media. The authors' wide-ranging views form a balanced and perceptive examination of the impact of the media on the making of history.