As the colonies began growing and expanding, however, their relationship with the British government became strained, and the main source of conflict was a business issue – taxes. Newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean covered the issue with gusto. In fact, some of the major developments in journalism of the 18 th century were related to the increasing tensions in the colonies.
The best known was the case of a journalist accused of spreading scurrilous information about the governor of New York . John Peter Zenger was a printer’s apprentice who had opened his own shop in New York . He was approached by businessmen in the area to start a newspaper that would rival the New York Gazette, controlled by the administration. His New York Weekly Journal appeared for the first time in November 1733 and began criticizing the British-controlled government. Among the criticisms were two that were business related. One claimed that the government wanted one-third of the price of the sale of public land. Another accusation suspected illegal land purchases. A year after opening his paper, Zenger was accused of sedition and brought to trial. When he was found innocent, newspapers rejoiced and became more emboldened in covering issues that affected their readers. No other newspaper editor was tried for sedition before the Revolutionary War.