Craig Fehrman traces the history of the soundbite, which as been shrinking for over a century according to new research by professors David Ryfe and Markus Kemmelmeier. Fehrman writes that by "1916, [Ryfe and Kemmelmeier] found, the average political quotation in a newspaper story had fallen to about half the length of the average quotation in 1892." This isn't necessarily a negative:
[Soundbites] do come with benefits. [Daniel] Hallin [author of a famous 1992 study on shrinking sound bites] has argued all along that television news in the 1960s and 1970s, which many take to be the genre’s golden age, was never actually that good. Stories were dull and disorganized; those long quotations would be followed by a couple of seconds of dead air. Early newspapers, in their time, were no different. The Boston Globe’s first issue, in 1872, devoted much of its front page to transcriptions of church sermons.