Newspaper and magazines are maybe dying because they are simply not as awesome as they used to be. The American Antiquarian Society has put together a book called The Flash Press: Sporting Male Weeklies in 1840s New York, and those sporting male weeklies make our modern-day tabloids and lad mags look like they're put together by a bunch of kittens and marketed to little girls. They are called The Flash Press after The Flash, a weekly founded by a drunk Bostonian named William Snelling. He wrote a poem about how much he hated all the other poets in the nation, then moved to New York to spend more time at brothels. Eventually he founded that four-page weekly paper, dedicated to "Awful Developments, Dreadful Accidents and Unexpected Exposures." Was he the original blogger?!

Snelling edited the paper along with one man who owned a saloon and another "who had been arrested for bawdy-house rowdiness in 1836," the best possible thing in history to have been arrested for, probably. The paper was about trashy gossip and tips on brothels, chambermiads, and courtesans. They were all charged with libel, obviously, after they revealed that a Wall Street merchant "had worked as a 'fancy man' for a prostitute and asserting that he was, among other things, lascivious, sordid and crapulous." (The more things change, right?)

After the charges were dropped against one of the editors, he started a rival scandalsheet devoted to attacking Snelling. After Snelling got out of jail, they started a new paper together called The Whip.

By that summer, there were two more flash rags, The Rake and The Libertine, and a printer and cartoonist named Robinson was busy selling dirty drawings with titles like "Do You Like This Sort of Thing?"

Basically, bloggers need to step up their game.

We therefore must say of Alex Balk, our onetime colleague that his best effusions now are the mumblings of a sot. What has he left but to crawl his way through the world, leaving his slime behind him.

Sex and the City (1840) [NYT]