Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a new form of newspaper journalism was in the works. The formula for this new urban journalism was devised by Joseph Pulitzer after taking over the New York World in 1883. He combined good news coverage, sensational and human-interest material, and lavish artwork to create an appealing package for the city's new population. This newspaper--and its imitations in just about every major American city--provided residents with a comprehensive guide to urban living. In addition to news, which occupied a small segment of editorial content, Sunday newspapers offered guidance in etiquette and public behavior, tips on fashion and correct attire for men and women, recipes for preparing food, advice to the lovelorn, household hints, medical counsel, amusements for children, games, puzzles, cartoons and even sheet music for popular songs.

Newspapers like the Sunday World after 1900 provide a striking demonstration of mass media's propensity for shaping popular culture. The American daily newspaper emerged in the twentieth century as the undisputed creator and judge of American popular culture, and it occupied this position until the advent of commercial broadcasting in the 1920s forced the press to share its power with the new electronic medium of radio.

The abundance of newspaper headlines regarding fashion in the early twentieth century attest to the large role that fashion and dress played in American life. The dress reform wars of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were waged in our nation's newspapers, played out on the pages for Americans to read and choose sides. By examining these "topics of the times" from the New York Times and the Washington Post, one can see what was important to American culture--their values, their beliefs, their fashions.