We are curious about the things happening around us, and we are curious about the world. Journalism is a pair of magical eyes that enable us to see things that are happening miles and oceans away from us. We feel connected to so many other human beings through words in a newspaper.
The Romans were the founder of Acta Diurna, the Roman name for newspapers. In 59 BCE, they started to record daily events on sheets and posted the sheets in public areas to inform people. However, it was only available to senators. Similarly, the Chinese invented “Bao,” a report issued to government officials. These were not considered newspapers by definition because they were not consumed by the public.
With the growth of education, common people in ancient times also demanded to know more about things that were happening beyond their narrow circle of life. They wanted to know the gossip, arts, and political discussions in their neighboring cities. Thus, the first true newspaper was published in Germany in 1604 by Johann Carolus. It was readily accessible to the public, published periodically, contained the most up-to-date information, and had a wide range of topics.
As newspapers’ popularity rises, the government begins to suppress the freedom of journalists to write whatever they want and especially articles of political criticism. However, the purpose of news is to inform people of the truth, so newspapers strived to ask for freedom of the press. In 1644, the British parliament granted such freedom to journalists, and the 1791 Bill of Rights included the freedom of the press as the first Amendment.
With more freedom and means of mass production, the newspaper can greatly influence society in many ways. By shaping public opinions, newspapers strengthened the American colonies to resist the French and gain independence from Britain. Hearst’s newspaper was even able to incite a war. Nobody knew how powerful newspapers could be until these things happened.
The newspaper had its glorious time during the industrial revolutions and wars. However, people’s enthusiasm for newspapers has slowly faded in this relatively peaceful era.
In modern times, the advance of technology has made new media like television, radio and, phones possible. The traditional newspapers, both digital and printed, can only survive by creating content that is more in-depth and analytical. However, the 21st century marks a time when everything is rapidly moving forward, so are people. People go about their lives like a second hand on the clock. They have no time and interest to read anything deep and long. Superficial information permeates the internet because they are fun and eye-catching.
It is interesting to see how journalism develops throughout history and think about what it is going to be in the future.
Photo Credit: publish.illinois.edu