Irony alert: Newspapers were social media long before blogs and Facebook came along

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There are a host of complex reasons why the newspaper industry is in the shape it is — including the disruption of the print advertising model that most of the business was based on — but there’s no question that the rise of social media, including blogs and Twitter and Facebook, has accelerated that process by fragmenting the market. So it’s more than a little ironic that newspapers themselves were very much like social media, and specifically the blogosphere, long before the internet.

Tom Standage, digital editor of The Economist, makes this point in a Medium post — a point that is a subset of the argument he makes in his recent book “Writing on the Wall: Social Media — The First 2,000 Years.” As Standage describes it, one of the earliest social networks in the U.S. was a network of newspapers in New England, with Benjamin…

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