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University of Southern California

The IJPC Journal, Volume 1 - Fall 2009

Carrying the Banner: The Portrayal of the American Newsboy Myth in the Disney Musical Newsies

Stephen Siff

Abstract


The Disney musical Newsies depicts a previously forgotten moment in journalism history, when newsboys in New York shut down two of the largest newspapers in the country and sparked what nearly became a city-wide children’s general strike. This paper examines the musical’s fidelity to period accounts of newsboys and the 1899 New York newsboy strike by comparing the film to the historical record. In assessing Newsies as a work of cinematic history, Robert Brent Toplin’s eight generic strategies are used to locate the deviations from historical record that are customary for a commercially viable film. Additionally, Robert A. Rosenstone’s five levels of truth in historical films are applied.

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