History of newspapers and magazines

History of newspapers and magazines

Before the invention of newspapers in the early 17th century, official government bulletins were circulated at times in some centralized empires. The earliest newspaper date to 17th century Europe when printed periodicals began rapidly to replace the practice of hand-writing newssheets. The emergence of the new media branch has to be seen in close connection with the simultaneous spread of the printing press from which the publishing press derives it name.[1]


Early news publications of world

Before the advent of the newspaper, there were two major kinds of periodical news publications: the handwritten news sheet, and single item news publications. These existed simultaneously.

The Roman Empire published Acta Diurna, or government announcement bulletins, around 59 BC, as ordered by Julius Caesar. They were carved in metal or stone and posted in public places.

In China, early government-produced news sheets, called tipao, were commonly used among court officials during the late Han dynasty (second and third centuries AD). Between 713 and 734, the Kaiyuan Za Bao ("Bulletin of the Court") of the Chinese Tang Dynasty published government news; it was handwritten on silk and read by government officials. In 1582, there was the first reference to privately published newssheets in Beijing, during the late Ming Dynasty;[2]

In 1556, the government of Venice first published the monthly Notizie scritte, which cost one gazetta.[3] These avvisi were handwritten newsletters and used to convey political, military, and economic news quickly and efficiently throughout Europe, more specifically Italy, during the early modern era (1500-1700) — sharing some characteristics of newspapers though usually not considered true newspapers.[4]

However, none of these publications fully met the classical criteria for proper newspapers, as they were typically not intended for the general public and restricted to a certain range of topics.

Early publications played into the development of what would today be recognized as the newspaper, which came about around 1600. Around the 15th and 16th centuries, in England and France, long news accounts called "relations" were published; in Spain they were called "relaciones".

Single event news publications were printed in the broadsheet format, which was often posted. These publications also appeared as pamphlets and small booklets (for longer narratives, often written in a letter format), often containing woodcut illustrations. Literacy rates were low in comparison to today, and these news publications were often read aloud (literacy and oral culture were, in a sense, existing side by side in this scenario).

Sixteenth century (avvisi, gazettes)

One example of this type of merchant was the 16th century German financialist, Fugger. He not only received business news from his correspondents, but also sensationalist and gossip news as well. It is evident in the correspondence of Fugger with his network that fiction and fact were both significant parts of early news publications.

Sixteenth century Germany also saw subscription-based, handwritten news. Those who subscribed to these publications were generally low-level government officials and also merchants. They could not afford other types of news publications, but had enough money to pay for a subscription, which was still expensive for the time.

Avvisi, or Gazzettes (not gazettes), were a mid-16th century Venice phenomenon. They were issued on single sheets, folded to form four pages, and issued on a weekly schedule. These publications reached a larger audience than handwritten news had in early Rome. Their format and appearance at regular intervals were two major influences on the newspaper as we know it today. The idea of a weekly, handwritten newssheet went from Italy to Germany and then to Holland.


Title page of Carolus' Relation from 1609, the earliest newspaper

The term newspaper became common in the 17th century. However, in Germany, publications that we would today consider to be newspaper publications, were appearing as early as the 16th century. They were discernibly newspapers for the following reasons: they were printed, dated, appeared at regular and frequent publication intervals, and included a variety of news items (unlike single item news mentioned above). The first newspaper however was said to be the Strasbourg Relation, in the early 17th century. German newspapers, like avisis, were organized by the location from which they came, and by date. They differed from avisis in the following manners: they employed a distinct and highly illustrated title page, and they applied an overall date to each issue.

The emergence of the new media branch in the 17th century has to be seen in close connection with the spread of the printing press from which the publishing press derives it name.[5]

The German-language Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien, printed from 1605 onwards by Johann Carolus in Strasbourg, is often recognized as the first newspaper.[6][7] At the time, Strasbourg was a free imperial city in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation; the first newspaper of modern Germany was the Avisa, published in 1609 in Wolfenbüttel.

Other early papers include the Dutch Courante uyt Italien, Duytslandt, &c. of 1618 was the first to appear in folio- rather than quarto-size. Amsterdam, a center of world trade, quickly became home to newspapers in many languages, often before they were published in their own country.[8]

The first English-language newspaper, Corrant out of Italy, Germany, etc., was published in Amsterdam in 1620. A year and a half later, Corante, or weekely newes from Italy, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Bohemia, France and the Low Countreys. was published in England by an "N.B." (generally thought to be either Nathaniel Butter or Nicholas Bourne) and Thomas Archer.[9]

The first newspaper in France was published in 1631, La Gazette (originally published as Gazette de France).[3]

The first newspaper in Portugal, A Gazeta da Restauração, was published in 1641 in Lisbon. The first Spanish newspaper, Gaceta de Madrid, was published in 1661.

Post- och Inrikes Tidningar (founded as Ordinari Post Tijdender) was first published in Sweden in 1645, and is the oldest newspaper still in existence, though it now publishes solely online.[10]

Opregte Haarlemsche Courant from Haarlem, first published in 1656, is the oldest paper still printed. It was forced to merge with the newspaper Haarlems Dagblad in 1942 when Germany occupied the Netherlands. Since then the Haarlems Dagblad appears with the subtitle Oprechte Haerlemse Courant 1656 and considers itself to be the oldest newspaper still publishing.

Merkuriusz Polski Ordynaryjny was published in Kraków, Poland in 1661.

The first successful English daily, The Daily Courant, was published from 1702 to 1735.[8][11]

News was frequently highly selective: rulers would often use them as ways to publish accounts of battles or events that made those rulers look good to the public. Sensationalist material was also printed, such as accounts of magic or of natural disasters; this material did not pose a threat to the state, because it did not pose criticism of the state. Printers readily printed sensationalist material because they faced a ready market, which proved lucrative for them. Printers found there was a market for news about rulers that did not cast those rulers in a favorable light. Printers could get away with doing so, because they would print the publication overnight and sell it quickly. This quick publication pace also resulted in quick returns on investments for printers.

Private uses of early news publications: rulers and merchants both established networks of people who were employed to provide them news from other lands, and here is an early manifestation of correspondence in news writing. Rulers found out political information from these networks, and merchants found out business information, and also political information that directly affected their trade.

Corantos in the Dutch Republic

Newspaper publications, under the name of corantos, came to the Dutch Republic in the 17th century, first to Amsterdam, which was a center of trade and travelers, an obvious locale for news publication. The term coranto was adopted by other countries for a time as well. The coranto differed from previous German newspapers before it in format. The coranto dropped the highly-illustrated German title page, instead including a title on the upper first page of the publication – the masthead common in today's periodicals. Corantos also adopted a two-column format, unlike the previous single-column format, and were issued on halfsheets.

British newspapers

The coranto form influenced British newspapers. On 7 November 1665, The London Gazette (at first called The Oxford Gazette) began publication.[12] It is considered to be the newspaper that decisively changed the look of English news printing, echoing the coranto format of two columns, a clear title, and a clear date. It was published twice a week.[13] Other English papers started to publish three times a week, and later the first daily papers emerged. This was partly due to in the postal system between Dover and London.

Newspapers in general included short articles, ephemeral topics, some illustrations and service articles (classifieds). They were often written by multiple authors, although the authors' identities were often obscured. They began to contain some advertisements, and they did not yet include sections. Mass market papers emerged, including Sunday papers for workers to read in their leisure time. The Times adopted new technologies and set the standards for other newspapers. This newspaper covered major wars, among other major events.

British magazines

The Gentleman's Magazine, first published in 1731, in London, is considered to have been the first general-interest magazine. Edward Cave, who edited The Gentleman's Magazine under the pen name "Sylvanus Urban", was the first to use the term "magazine", on the analogy of a military storehouse of varied materiel, originally derived from the Arabic makhazin "storehouses".[14]

The oldest consumer magazine still in print is The Scots Magazine, which was first published in 1739, though multiple changes in ownership and gaps in publication totaling over 90 years weaken that claim. Lloyd's List was founded in Edward Lloyd’s England coffee shop in 1734; it is still published as a daily business newspaper.

North American newspapers

Untitled watercolor (c. 1863) of a man reading a newspaper by Henry Louis Stephens. The headline reports the Emancipation Proclamation.
Front page of The New York Times on Armistice Day, November 11, 1918.

In Boston in 1690, Benjamin Harris published Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick. This is considered the first newspaper in the American colonies even though only one edition was published before the paper was suppressed by the colonial officials, possibly due to censorship and control issues. It followed the two-column format and was a single sheet, printed on both sides.

In 1704, the governor allowed The Boston News-Letter, a weekly, to be published, and it became the first continuously published newspaper in the colonies. Soon after, weekly papers began publishing in New York and Philadelphia. The second English-language newspaper in the Americas was the Weekly Jamaica Courant.[15] These early newspapers followed the British format and were usually four pages long. They mostly carried news from Britain and content depended on the editor’s interests. In 1783, the Pennsylvania Evening Post became the first American daily.

In 1751, John Bushell published the Halifax Gazette, the first Canadian newspaper.

English newspapers in Indian subcontinent

In 1766, a British editor, William Bolts, offered the first ever paper to his fellow countrymen in Calcutta and helped them establish a printing press. He was against the East India Company Government, so after two years of establishing his press, he was sent back to England by the Company. He published a book of 500 pages which carried details of corruption in East India Company and hardships faced by Indian people.

In 1780, James Augustus Hickey published Bengal Gazette/General Calcutta Adviser. The size of that four-page newspaper was 12"x8". Hickey too was against the Company Government and published internal news of the employees of the Company. Soon the Government withdrew the postage facility for his paper as a fallout of a news against them. Hickey still managed to circulate his paper by appointing 20 men to deliver it. Once he published a news against the Chief Missionary of the Main Church, Jan Zakariya. Jan complained to the Government for that fake news and filed a defamation petition against Hickey. Hickey was fined Rs 500 and sentenced to four months imprisonment. After that he was fined again which resulted in the death of the paper.

In November 1781, India Gazette was also introduced; it was pro Government and against Hickey.

Industrial Revolution

Newspapers of that time were in English, and the news only related to British activity in India. As the readers were also British, the local population was not the target. But the Company feared that these Indian papers could get to England and may defame the Company in England. English papers used to take nine months to reach India.

By the early 19th century, many cities in Europe, as well as North and South America, published newspaper-type publications though not all of them developed in the same way; content was vastly shaped by regional and cultural preferences.[16] Advances in printing technology related to the Industrial Revolution enabled newspapers to become an even more widely circulated means of communication. In 1814, The Times (London) acquired a printing press capable of making 1,100 impressions per minute.[17]

It was soon adapted to print on both sides of a page at once. This innovation made newspapers cheaper and thus available to a larger part of the population. In 1830, the first penny press newspaper came to the market: Lynde M. Walter's Boston Transcript.[18] Penny press papers cost about one-sixth the price of other newspapers and appealed to a wider audience.[19]

Middle Eastern newspapers

The first newspapers in the Middle East appeared during the nineteenth century.[20]

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Weber 2006, p. 387:
    At the same time, then, as the printing press in the physical, technological sense was invented, 'the press' in the extended sense of the word also entered the historical stage. The phenomenon of publishing was born.
  2. ^ Brook, Timothy. (1998). The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-22154-0 (Paperback). Page xxi.
  3. ^ a b Wan-Press.org, A Newspaper Timeline, World Association of Newspapers
  4. ^ Infelise, Mario. "Roman Avvisi: Information and Politics in the Seventeenth Century." Court and Politics in Papal Rome, 1492-1700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 212,214,216-217
  5. ^ Weber, Johannes (2006), "Strassburg, 1605: The Origins of the Newspaper in Europe", German History 24 (3): 387–412 (387) :
    At the same time, then, as the printing press in the physical, technological sense was invented, 'the press' in the extended sense of the word also entered the historical stage. The phenomenon of publishing was born.
  6. ^ "Weber, Johannes: Straßburg 1605: Die Geburt der Zeitung, in: Jahrbuch für Kommunikationsgeschichte, Vol. 7 (2005), S. 3-27" (in German). http://www.uni-leipzig.de/%7Ehsk/pgs/jahrbuch/2005/Weber_Strassburg1605.pdf. 
  7. ^ World Association of Newspapers: "Newspapers: 400 Years Young!"
  8. ^ a b Stephens, Mitchell, NYU.edu, "History of Newspapers", Collier's Encyclopedia
  9. ^ BL.uk, Concise History of the British Newspaper in the Seventeenth Century
  10. ^ Oldest newspapers still in circulation, World Association of Newspapers
  11. ^ Concise History of the British Newspaper in the Eighteenth Century[dead link]
  12. ^ "Viewing Page 1 of Issue 1". London-gazette.co.uk. http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/1/pages/1. Retrieved 2011-07-16. 
  13. ^ http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/1665-11-01;1666-11-01/sort=oldest/start=1
  14. ^ OED, s.v. "Magazine".
  15. ^ "Republic of Pirates Blog: Have you seen me? The hunt for the Weekly Jamaica Courant". Republicofpirates.net. 2007-12-08. http://republicofpirates.net/blog/2007/12/post.html. Retrieved 2011-07-16. 
  16. ^ "newspaper - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9055609/newspaper. Retrieved 2011-07-16. 
  17. ^ Meggs, Philip B. A History of Graphic Design (pp 130–133). John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998.
  18. ^ David R. Spencer, The Yellow Journalism (Northwestern University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-8101-2331-2), p. 22.
  19. ^ Bird, S. Elizabeth. For Enquiring Minds: A Cultural Study of Supermarket Tabloids. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992: 12-17.
  20. ^ Ayalon, The press in the Arab Middle East: a History.

Further reading

  • Angeletti, Norberto, and Alberto Oliva. Magazines That Make History: Their Origins, Development, and Influence (2004), covers Time, Der Spiegel, Life, Paris Match, National Geographic, Reader's Digest, ¡Hola!, and People
  • Brooker, Peter, and Andrew Thacker, eds. The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume I: Britain and Ireland 1880-1955 (2009)
  • Mott, Frank Luther. A History of American Magazines (five volumes, 1930-1968), detailed coverage of all major magazines, 1741 to 1930.
  • Summer, David E. The Magazine Century: American Magazines Since 1900 (Peter Lang Publishing; 2010) 242 pages. Examines the rapid growth of magazines throughout the 20th century and analyzes the form's current decline.
  • Wood, James P. Magazines in the United States (1971)

Primary sources

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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