Little Bits of History

May 30

Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 30, 2017

1631: Gazette de France is first published. Théophraste Renaudot began the news sheet as a way to spread the information in France more quickly. Prior to the paper’s publication, news was passed around on hand written papers or nouvelles à la main. With the quick acceptance of the gazette as a way of disseminating the news, it became a useful tool for controlling the flow of information. France at the time was highly centralized and both Cardinal Richelieu and Louis XIII were frequent contributors. Prior to the French Revolution, the paper was often read by nobility and the aristocracy as a way of keeping up with events throughout the country and around the world.

The initial purpose of the paper was to spread news of court events, political issues, or diplomatic affairs. In 1762 it began to carry the subtitle Official organ of the royal Government, in French of course. It was also one of the most expensive magazines (initially published weekly) in all of Paris. Since the news was that of the government, there was little mention of any of the revolutionary items and even the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 failed to reach print in this venue. In 1791 the magazine came back under the control of Nicolas Fallet and became an outlet for Girondists (a part of the Jacobin movement or anti-royalists). In 1792, it became a daily newspaper and after Louis XVI was executed in 1793, the name changed to Gazette nationale de France. It ceased publication in 1915.

Renaudot was a physician, philanthropist, and journalist. He has been called “the first French journalist” as well as the “inventor of the personal ad”. He was born in 1586 and became a doctor in 1606. He met Cardinal Richelieu and as the man became more famous, both Renaudot and Richelieu moved to Paris. Renaudot was born Protestant but converted to Catholicism and became Louis XIII’s private physician. In 1630 he opened the bureau d’adresse at de rencontre where prospective employers and employees could find each other. He opened his paper with the help and backing of Richelieu and began organizing weekly press conferences in 1633, giving the paper much to print. These press conferences ended in 1642 when Richelieu died.

Passing along the news has been of great concern since the dawn of civilization. In ancient Rome, Acta Duma or the official government bulletins were created and posted around the city. These were either carved in metal or stone. In China, early news sheets were produced and circulated among court officials to keep them up to date. The first reference to privately published newssheets was in 1582 in Beijing during the Ming Dynasty. In Europe, with increasing international business, it became more and more important to be able to keep up with information and Venice was the first European city to create a news paper, published monthly, with the earliest edition hand written. It took the invention of the printing press before what we consider today to be a newspaper to actually come to market.

Editor: a person employed by a newspaper, whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed. – Elbert Hubbard

Public opinion is a compound of folly, weakness, prejudice, wrong feeling, right feeling, obstinacy, and newspaper paragraphs. – Robert Peel

You can never get all the facts from just one newspaper, and unless you have all the facts, you cannot make proper judgments about what is going on. – Harry S Truman

It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper. – Jerry Seinfeld

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