Little Bits of History

Spread the News

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 25, 2012

Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick

September 25, 1690: Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick is published in Boston. It was the first multi-page newspaper published in the Americas. Printed by Richard Pierce and edited by Benjamin Harris, it consisted of four 6 x 10 inch pages (only filling three of them). The plan was to publish monthly unless “any Glut of Occurrences happen” and then it would print an extra edition. Harris had previously published a paper in London and was experienced in the venture. However, even though many Occurrences did happen, a second issue was never printed. The Governor and Council shut down this first newspaper on September 29, 1690 – just four days after the first print.

Before this burst of journalistic expression, printed news was available to the literate residents of the colonies in the form of a broadside. This is a large sheet of paper printed only on one side and publicly displayed. They were akin to a poster and could contain information about events, proclamations of news, or simple advertisements. They were temporary and after the information was disseminated, they would be taken down and discarded. Some literary broadsides might contain a poem and be elaborately decorated and suitable for framing. Broadsides were the most common form of printing between the 16th and 19th centuries, especially in Britain, Ireland, and North America. On July 4, 1776, John Dunlap of Philadelphia printed 200 copies of a proclamation to be posted – The US Declaration of Independence.

Newspapers are scheduled printings available to the public, covering news and events that are current and yet cover a wide range of topics. All four criteria must be met. They are an outgrowth, improvement, or upgrade to posters of earlier times and places. Ancient China, Rome, and Greece all used methods of posted writing to get the news out. The invention of the printing press in the west had two major influences. First, it made copies of print material easier and cheaper to create. Second, because the written word was cheaper, more people learned to read. A literate society is needed before selling newspapers can be profitable. German newspapers were the first on the scene from as early as the 16th century.

News of newspapers spread across the continent and soon became quite popular in a variety of languages. In the colonies, it took another 14 years before a newspaper was given the green light. In 1704, the weekly The Boston News-Letter began. Printing on cheap paper has made it possible for many readers to keep up-to-date. In 2007 there were 6,580 daily newspapers. The worldwide recession of 2008 and the proliferation of web-based alternatives have changed that. The 395 million copies a day have steadily declined. With dropping sales, ad revenue had decreased and many papers have gone out of business.

Whereas some have lately presumed to Print and Disperse a Pamphlet, Entitled, Publick Occurrences, both Forreign and Domestick: Boston, Thursday, Septemb. 25th, 1690.

Without the least Privity and Countenace of Authority. The Governour and Council having had the perusal of said Pamphlet, and finding that therein contained Reflections of a very high nature:

As also sundry doubtful and uncertain Reports, do hereby manifest and declare their high Resentment and Disallowance of said Pamphlet, and Order that the same be Suppressed and called in;

Strickly forbidden any person or persons for the future to Set forth any thing in Print without License first obtained from those that are or shall be appointed by the Government to grant the same. – the order to quit publication

Also on this day:

The Supremes – In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to sit on the US Supreme Court.
Fasssssst – In 1997, a new land speed record was set.
Lots of Water – In 1513, Balboa reached the Pacific Ocean.

Hot Off the Presses

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 28, 2011

Steam-powered printing press

November 28, 1814: The London Times is printed using a steam-powered press for the first time. This made newspapers cheaper and with a greater ability to be mass-produced. The German inventors, Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Bauer, were working on their steam-powered press in London. John Walter of The Times was interested in the new machine. It was tested in secret so as to not upset the pressmen who were working at the paper. When it was found to be satisfactory, The Times produced their product with the new technology.

Newspapers, by definition, carry news. They also contain information that might not be considered “news” and advertisements to help with the cost of production. The first daily sheet we know of is Acta Diurna (Daily Events) that Julius Caesar had posted around Rome in 59 BC. The earliest printed papers came from Beijing, China in 748.

Johannes Gutenberg brought us the printing press in 1451 which made mass production easier. The first German newspaper was brought to market in 1502 while the first English language paper was available by 1513. In 1609 the first regularly published paper was in print in Europe, Germany’s Avisa Relation oder Zeitung. The first paper in North America was published in Boston in 1690. With rising literacy rates, the numbers of different papers printed, and the numbers of the papers sold both increased.

Today, 75% of the 100 best-selling papers are printed in Asia. In 2005 China had the greatest total circulation with 93.5 million papers sold per day. India was next with 78.9 million per day while Japan sold 70.4 million per day. The US was next with a marked drop to 48.3 million per day. Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, and Mainichi Shimbun, all from Japan, are the best-selling papers in the world. Germany’s Bild is the only non-Asian paper in the top ten best seller list. The lists of circulation records are for paid circulation, which is what advertisement fees are based upon. The numbers do not include online portals and the number of hits these papers receive with their non-print versions.

“Newspapers:  dead trees with information smeared on them.” – Horizon, “Electronic Frontier”

“Histories are a kind of distilled newspapers.” – Thomas Carlyle

“The evil that men do lives on the front pages of greedy newspapers, but the good is oft interred apathetically inside.” – Brooks Atkinson

“Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.” – Ben Hecht

Also on this day:
The Pitch Experiment – In 2000, the eighth drop in the 73-year-old Pitch Experiment drops.
Night Life & Death – In 1942, the Cocoanut Grove burned.