People in America just sort of take for granted that our mainstream news outlets are, or at least should be, relatively objective, simply reporting news events as they happen. We're also used to knowing what is happening all over the world at the instant it ocurrs. Actually, this so-called objectivity, and the ability to learn what's happening in the next town, let alone the next country in less than a week is rather a recent phenomenon, really only about a hundred and fifty years old
Before this time, all the way back to the invention of the printing press that made news papers possible, objectivity in news reporting simply wasn't a consideration. Newspapers were by and large (in the US at least) seen as mouthpieces for the political viewpoints of whatever party the editor-in-chief happened to be a member of. The bigger the newspaper was, the bigger the party that ran it. They all claimed to speak the truth, but hardly any claimed to be objective about it.
The Associated Press got its start through a consortium of New York City papers. Before the telegraph was invented most news, especially news from Europe, traveled via ship. To ensure a "scoop", these papers would put reporters on rowboats to meet ships as they pulled into harbor. There were so many, and the competition so fierce, many times reporters would end up in the harbor, becoming news instead of reporting it. The idea was to send just one reporter out to a ship, after it had docked, and then share the news with whoever was part of the consortium.
This consortiums didn't really come into its own until the telegraph, coincidentally invented just a few years earlier, began to spread.
It's difficult to emphasize how magical the telegraph seemed at the time. Unlike the printing press, which was essentially just a mechanized method of copying written communication, the telegraph represented a fundamental change in how people communicated with each other. Suddenly people were able to "speak" with each other just as if they were together in the same room, even though they were sometimes hundreds of miles apart. When Samuel Morse tapped out "What hath God Wrought" from the US Capitol to Alfred Vail at the B&O Railway Station in Baltimore (39 miles north), the world became infinitely smaller in an instant.
News that once took weeks to transmit from one place to another now took just a few seconds. By placing specially-paid "Morse operators" in every city as it got wired up, what initially started out as a method of keeping reporters from drowning turned into a powerful method of transmitting news from one location to another. Because very few papers could actually keep reporters in every single city around the country, other newspapers would quite gladly pay for the services', well, service, and so it became an extremely lucrative method as well.
But there was a problem. Different cities had different newspapers, and therefore different political parties, "in charge". If a reporter in one city wrote copy from, say, a Democratically controlled news paper's normal point of view, it would be completely unsellable to at least half the rest of the newspapers across the country. You wrote what happened and not what you thought or you couldn't make any money. The economics of the telegraph itself, where you weren't charged by the minute, you were charged by the word, also lead to an extreme economy of reportage which didn't lend itself well to "spin" and "slant".
The invention of the printing press turned general information into a commodity. The invention of the telegraph turned news, time-sensitive information, into the same sort of commodity. The "wire service" changed that news from something that suited the agenda of just one group, even just one man, into a tool of freedom.
People were able to learn what happened rather than what they were supposed to think about it. They were able to cross-check their own local paper against a national organization which literally reported "just the facts". They were able to care about what was happening on the other side of the country, eventually even on the other side of the world, because what they learned didn't happen last week, or last month, it was happening right now, when they could actually do something about it.
While it can be said the modern age started with the printing press, the information age, this constantly changing, obsolete-before-it's-invented world we live in now, started with the telegraph.
And, once again, the world would never be the same.