Information is vital for the lives we live every day. Who could imagine a single day with no access to fresh information, be it related to politics, weather, elections or financial.
The news shape our life, influence our decisions, improve our daily activities and make history. At present, due to the rapid development of the Internet, news are only one click away from us, but until now, the newspapers were the major internationally accepted sources of news, no matter their type.
As newspapers have started little by little to become less important in our lives and considering the fact that the future (as it can be foreseen now) will almost surely be one without traditional newspapers, we should look in the past, in order to understand their history, which is very interesting.
In 59 B.C. the very first newspaper was published in Rome. Its name was Acta Diurna. Then, many years after that first moment in the history of newspapers, in 1556, Notizie Scritte was published in Venice. It is important to know that between the years of 618 and 906, during the Tang Dynasty, China was using ink for its prints, directly on carved wooden blocks.
The Dawn of the Modern Newspaper
The actual newspapers have a long life, as their beginnings are located in Europe, more than five centuries ago. In several of the European cities, merchants began to hand write some announcements related to weather, economy, the wars or even short stories that people would be interested in reading. These papers were spread among the inhabitants, who began to appreciate them and read them in larger numbers.
It is considered that Germany was the very first country where the very first newspaper appeared. It happened at the end of the fifteenth century, and the first newspaper contained sensational stories and several other news. People loved it, and this was the official start for the hundreds of newspapers that appeared in the following centuries.
It is important to understand that before the newspaper industry flourished, France and Germany built their first paper mills. Back in 1631, French people enjoyed the first French newspaper, which was called the Gazette.
Things were a little different in the U.S, where the first newspaper didn’t appear until 1690. It was called Public Occurrences, including both foreign and domestic news, and was printed by Richard Pierce. The newspaper was planned to be issued once a once a month, but this has never happened, as the newspaper had only one edition. It was only after several years that another try of this kind was made.
In 1666 the first English newspaper (the London Gazette) was published, and 14 years after this event, in America, John Campbell tried once again to launch a newspaper. The name of the newspaper was Boston News-letter. The newspaper contained only one advertisement and it continued to be published every week. When Campbell was no longer in charge of the post in Boston, he did not want to let someone else to print the newspaper, so it had to change its name. In 1721 there were four newspapers regularly printed in the U.S. and they all were read by the American citizens on a regular basis.
In 1704, Daniel Defoe, the first world journalist, published The Review. In 1803 the first newspaper was published in Australia. In 1844, Thailand has published its first newspaper, and in 1855 the first newspaper was published in Sierra Leone. Almost twenty years later the first newspaper was printed in Japan.
What about Europe and the U.S.A?
Maybe you wonder why there were so few newspapers in the U.S. and Europe. There are many possible answers, but one of them is the fact that back then it was difficult to find people that knew to write correctly. Actually, there were very few people that were taught and went to school. At the same time, the paper was expensive and the printing process was also time consuming and required a lot of effort and attention. Even if the printing press had been invented since 1436, the process of printing newspapers was very laborious.
Before Gutenberg invented the press, only decorative printing was made, being used mostly for pictures and designs. Gutenberg was a German man who was a craftsman and inventor. He is well known due to the invention of the regular printing press which was used until the twentieth century.
It was only at the beginning of the nineteenth century that the Gutenberg press was improved, though, so that the process of printing became more efficient. This way, in 1883, the price of a newspaper in New York dropped below one penny, due to the improvements made to the Gutenberg Press.
The year of 1884 brought a new invention, the Linotype, which really helped with the speed of printing the newspapers. In 1903 the first tabloid appeared in the U.S; its name was The Daily Mirror.
First Newspapers Challenges
The first challenge to the industry of newspapers is dated around the year 1940. The radio industry was flourishing and it was a real threat for the newspapers. This is demonstrated clearly by the fact that in 1954 there were more radios than newspapers.
Once the first computers starting being used for text editing, huge leaps were made and people witnessed an explosion of newspapers, which were printed in black at first, and then started to include colored text and images as well.
The big question is if the newspapers will manage to resist the Internet offensive and the (somewhat sad) reality is that that more and more persons prefer reading the news for free, on the internet, instead of buying a newspaper.
Most Read Newspapers in the World
The International Federation of Audit Bureau of Circulations, World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers have compiled a top of the most read paid newspapers in the world. The most read newspaper in the world is Yomiuri Shimbun from Japan, which is bought by more than 10 million readers. Asahi Shimbun comes also from Japan, ranking number two, and being read by close to eight million people. On the third place we find an Indian newspaper (The Times of India), which is currently read by close to four million persons.
The list continues with several other Japanese newspapers. It is interesting to know that The Times of India is the most circulated newspaper in the English language in all the geographical areas in the world. In the U.S. the most read newspapers are Wall Street Journal and USA Today.
These days, lots of people read the news online. In October 2012, 644 million persons were reading the news online. Mail Online is the most popular online newspaper, having 50 million unique visitors during one month. On the second place we have New York Times, which is read by 48.7 million persons. On the third place is The Guardian, which is preferred by 38.9 million persons.
In Europe, the moat circulated newspaper is the German newspaper Bild, followed by the English The Sun.