DOI link for Common Sense
Common Sense book
Samuel Johnson established an enduring set of criteria by which the social 'duty' of journalism could be understood as the provision of truth for the common reader. Neither truth nor a common readership was to survive the modernizing American, French and Industrial Revolutions intact, even though it was during these events that such innovations as the notions of universal truth and a general public underwent a period of vigorous self-invention and social promotion. 'Common' sense was suddenly revealed not to be 'common' to all in a given political readership. Thomas Paine exemplifies the transformation from universalism to adversarialism. After some years in America he returned to Europe where he played a significant role in the French Revolution and in the emerging class conflict in Britain arising from the Industrial Revolution. Popular journalism began as the 'mighty auxiliary' in the battle for democratic reform and self-representation by the 'labouring classes', as The Charter put it in 1839.