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When the Company of Newspaper makers, the youngest of the London City Livery Companies, was founded on February 26, 1932, the souvenir presented to each member of the Livery at the inaugural banquet at the Mansion House, contained, under the heading ‘‘The Story of the Press,’’ the following survey, recording, as will be noted the position held by ‘‘Berrow’s’’ as Britain’s oldest newspaper.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF NEWSPAPERS

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To Worcester belongs the distinction of being served by the oldest surviving newspaper in the World. THE BERROW'S WORCESTER JOURNAL. The dissemination of news is as old as history. Records of the building of Babylon exist to this day in the crude brick tablets of the Assyrians. In later times the Romans kept a news journal, published by the Senate, the Acta Diurna, which gave regular accounts of the happenings of the period, of fires, and executions, and hail-storms; but it was not until the fifteen century AD that the forerunners of newspapers as we know them first appeared. News, before the coming of the newspaper, was circulated by News Letters and Circulars, written in Venice, Nuremburg, Augsburg, Amsterdam, Cologne, Frankfurt, Paris and London by paid letter writers, who sent their news budgets to their principals in various capitals. Of these, the most famous generally regarded as the forerunners of the modern newspaper, were the Fugger News Letters, first issued at Augsburg early in the fifteenth century by the mercantile house of Fugger, which had its agents scattered throughout Europe. Several thousand of these News Letters are housed to-day at the Vienna Museum, covering a period of thirty-six years from 1568 to 1604.

The Fugger News

The Fugger News letters, nevertheless, were not printed newspapers. The first printed newspaper in the world emanated from Nuremburg, though for a time people believed that the English Mercurie said to have been produced in 1588, had that honour. But it was proven, some years ago, that the English Mercurie was a forgery, produced for the collector, and the claims of the Venice Gazetta of 1570 were unchallenged for a considerable period. But it was not to be. Nuremburg, the home of Albrecht Durer, preceded the Venetian news sheet by over a hundred years, and we have proof today that the first printed newspaper beyond any shadow of doubt was produced in 1457, five years after Peter Schoeffer first cast metal type in matrices at Nuremburg, with the title of Gazette. Next in 1534, came the Neue Zeitung aus Hispanien and Italien, published at Cologne, and from that date onwards the growth of the newspapers may be said to have begun.

First English Newspaper

The first printed English newspaper did not appear for sale until Nathaniel Butters, called the ''Father of the English Press'' brought out his Weekly News in London on May 23, 1622, while twenty years afterwards, another newspaper, equally famous, made its appearance in 1663. This was L'Estrange's Public Intelligencer, which preceded the Oxford Gazette by two years. Between 1640 and the Restoration no fewer than thirty thousand printed pamphlets, called ''News Letters'' and ''News Papers'' in their day, saw the light of publication in Great Britain, and of these, the British Museum possesses over two thousand in its archives. The following table shows a few of the principal journals which flourished in Europe between 1615 and 1720:

  • Frankfort Gazette..1615
  • Weekly Newes..1622
  • Leipzig Gazette..1660
  • Public Intelligencer..1663
  • London Gazette..1665
  • Worcester Post-man..1690
  • Stamford Mercury..1695
  • Newcastle Courant..1711
  • Berlin Gazette..1722.

Of these, Berrow's Worcester Post-Man still exists as Berrow's Worcester Journal. From the end of the seventeenth century, newspapers were produced regularly in the larger towns throughout Europe, although the first English daily newspaper did not appear until 1702, in the reign of Queen Anne. This was the Daily Courant. Paris had its first daily newspaper in 1777, the Journal de Paris ou Poste au Soir, and the United States first saw a daily journal with the advert of the American Daily Advertiser, published in Philadelphia in 1784.


Full Chapter List
Chapter 1: A Place in History
Chapter 2: Enter Mr Berrow
Chapter 3: Fatalities in the City
Chapter 4: First Woman Editor
Chapter 5: Mayoral Conflict
Chapter 6: To The Present Day
Chapter 7: Newspaper History

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