History of Newspapers
The purpose of a newspaper is to provide the citizens with events which are happening, announcements and other information. The Romans put out a handwritten news journal called Acta Diurna (Daily Events) prior to 59 B. C. It was posted around the city for all to read. The journal did not list just official proclamations to the citizens. It also gave information about marriages, births, deaths, gladiatorial contests and horological happenings.
The official government of China put out a bao,a report of court affairs in Beijing from 611-1911 A. D. At first, it was prepared by hand and then was prepared by using block printing in the 1600's. In the 1400's and 1500's, even after the invention of the printing press, only books and pamphlets were produced. A newssheet was sometimes read aloud by town criers. A news pamphlet in the 1500's contained information on a specific piece of news.
In 1513, Richard Fawkes wrote a news pamphlet about the Battle of Flodden Field. Pamphlets like this might have four pages. Usually about twenty per year came out in England. Most of these were not political in nature, but told of amazing happenings, scandals and heroic adventures. In the Middle Ages, the commercial newsletter sent around to businessmen included information on goods and services and even politics.
A newsletter which became a regular newspaper began in Strasbourg, Germany in 1609 by Johann Carolus. The Dutch began the custom of reporting on international news weekly or twice weekly. They were in a good position to keep up on that news because of their geography and their trading work. Basic newspapers began in other European countries also. The first French daily newspaper (the Journal de Paris) started in 1777. A new type of British newspaper began in the late 1700's. It contained advertisements along with many other topics.
The first official newspaper In America was the Boston News-Letter in 1701. Benjamin Franklin's brother changed its name to the Boston Gazette. Before the Revolutionary War, 37 different newspapers existed in the colonies. Newspaper publishers, after Independence, were not under many restrictions from the government, as was the case with many former newspapers in Europe. Many became daily newspapers, like the New York Daily Advertiser, which was the first.
The new profession of journalism began. Newspapers turned into big businesses. New technology, advances in transportation and in printing techniques influenced the production of newspapers. The demand for newspapers brought about the steam driven press in Britain. The Times in London could put out 5,000 copies an hour. Its circulation increased to 50,000 by the mid-1800's.
The great breakthrough was the automatic linotype machine in the late 1800's. Prior to this machine, adjusting the words to fill the space in a line was done by hand. After the invention of the linotype, this process could be done by a keyboard. It was first used in the New York Tribune in 1886. Electricity was brought into the picture in 1884. Machines could print, cut, fold and bind the newspapers.
More news could be gathered by advances in communication. The telephone, undersea cables, the railroad and telegraph brought the news more quickly to the publishers. AS the newspapers grew, writers became full-time reporters. Some went to the battle lines to report events. News agencies grew up which sold news to different papers. Newspapers joined together to obtain the news. One such organization is the AP, or Associated Press. Every major city has at least one newspaper today.
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