Early newspapers

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Franklin the printer

Benjamin Franklin at work on a printing press. By Charles E. Mills [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’m reading Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography and one of my favorite parts so far is about him working as a newsprinter on the Pennsylvania Gazette. Newspapers at that time contained news of course, but also lots of non-news material. Mainly they were something to read that reached the masses. People contributed articles, books in series, observations, opinions, satire, pretty much whatever people were interested in reading.

It suddenly occurred to me that early newspapers must have been a lot like today’s blogs. The daily paper was something to read, something to browse, something of interest. It seems there was something for everyone in the newspaper, which of course was the idea, so that everyone would buy it. Especially the books printed in series in the paper made everyone reading it want to be sure to buy the paper every day so they wouldn’t miss a chapter.

The newspaper also connected the small colonial city of Philadelphia to the outside world. With no internet, television or radio, the newspaper was the main source of news (aside from letters from overseas). I can imagine the arrival of the daily paper was a highlight of the day!


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