The newsletter usually accorded primacy as a definite newspaper is the Relation of Strasbourg, first printed in 1609 by Johann Carolus. A close rival is the Avisa Relation oder Zeitung (Zeitung is the German word for "newspaper"), founded in the same year by Heinrich Julius, duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel. In 1605, in the Low Countries, Abraham Verhoeven of Antwerp had begun publication of the Nieuwe Tijdingen, although the earliest surviving copy is dated 1621. In any case, this historical rivalry is evidence of a fairly sudden demand for newspapers at the start of the 17th century, and the continuous publication of the Nieuwe Tijdingen indicates that this demand soon became well-established. Although these publications were emerging throughout western Europe, it was the Dutch, with their advantageous geographical and trading position, who pioneered the international coverage of news through their "corantos," or "current news." The Courante uyt Italien, Duytsland, & C., began to appear weekly or twice-weekly in 1618.
Similar rudimentary newspapers soon appeared in other European countries: Switzerland (1610), the Habsburg domains in central Europe (1620), England (1621), France (1631), Denmark (1634), Italy (1636), Sweden (1645), and Poland (1661). English and French translations of Dutch corantos were also available. But signs of official intolerance emerged fairly soon, and censorship stifled newspaper development in the late 17th century and into the 18th century in continental Europe. In Paris in 1631, the Nouvelles Ordinaires de Divers Endroits, a publishing venture by the booksellers Louis Vendosme and Jean Martin, was immediately replaced by an officially authorized publication, La Gazette, published under the name of Théophraste Renaudot but with influential backing by Cardinal de Richelieu. The new publication was to continue (as La Gazette de France) until 1917, casting the shadow of authority over nonofficial newspapers throughout its life. The first French daily--Le Journal de Paris--was not started until 1777; and although the Revolution of 1789 brought a temporary upsurge in newspaper publishing, with 350 papers being issued in Paris alone, the return to monarchy brought another clampdown. Napoleon I had his own official organ-- Le Moniteur Universel, first published by Charles-Joseph Panckoucke (one of a family of booksellers and writers) in 1789 and lasting until 1869--and there were only three other French newspapers.
In Germany, early newsletter development was soon hampered by the Thirty Years' War (1618-48), with its restrictions on trade, shortage of paper, and strict censorship. Even in peacetime censorship and parochialism inhibited the German press. Among the important regional newspapers were the Augsburger Zeitung (1689), the Vossische Zeitung in Berlin (1705), and the Hamburgische Correspondent (1714). In Austria the Wiener Zeitung was started in 1703 and is considered to be the oldest surviving daily newspaper in the world. The oldest continuously published weekly paper is the official Swedish gazette, the Post-och inrikes tidningar, begun in 1645. Sweden is also notable for having introduced the first law (in 1766) guaranteeing freedom of the press, but the concept of an independent press barely existed in most of Europe until the middle of the 19th century, and until then publishers were constantly subject to state authority.
Between the abolition of the Star Chamber in 1641 and the establishment of the Commonwealth in 1649 publishers enjoyed a short spell of freedom from strict official control. Publication of domestic news began to appear more regularly, shedding the original book form. News and headlines increasingly replaced the old title page. The Civil Wars (1642-51) acted as a stimulus to reporters and publishers, and 300 distinct news publications were brought out between 1640 and 1660, although many of these were only occasional reports from the battle front, such as Truths from York or News from Hull. The names of some contemporary publications, like the Intelligencers, Scouts, Spys, and Posts, reflected the bellicosity of the times, but the Mercurys still abounded, including the propaganda papers Mercurius Academicus (Royalist) and Mercurius Britannicus (Parliamentarian). The Parliamentarian victory brought strict control of the press from 1649 to 1658, and the restored monarchy was even more absolute, with the press being restricted to just two official papers. During the period of the Licensing Act (1662-94), an official surveyor of the press was given the sole privilege of publishing newspapers. The Revolution of 1688 produced a return to more permissive publishing laws and the first provincial presses were set up, starting with the Worcester Post Man (1690) and, in Scotland, the first Edinburgh Gazette (1699), although the British press was to remain principally a national one, centred on Fleet Street in London. Appearing briefly was Lloyd's News (1696), issuing from Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, which had become a centre of marine insurance. The subsequent Lloyd's List and Shipping Gazette (from 1734), with its combination of general and shipping news, exemplified both the importance of the City of London's financial activities to the newspapers and the importance of a reliable and regular financial press to business.
In the early years of the 18th century the British newspaper was approaching its first stage of maturity. After 1691, improvements in the postal system made daily publication practical, the first attempt at doing so being the single-sheet Daily Courant (1702-35), which consisted largely of extracts from foreign corantos. A more radical departure was the triweekly Review (1704-13), produced by Daniel Defoe, in which the writer's opinion on current political topics was given, introducing the editorial, or leading article. Defoe had been imprisoned, in 1702, for his pamphlet "The Shortest Way with Dissenters," but many eminent British writers were being attracted to the newspapers. Henry Muddiman had gained eminence as the "journalist" who edited the London Gazette (from 1666). John Milton had edited the Mercurius Politicus under Oliver Cromwell, and Sir Richard Steele and Joseph Addison, The Spectator (published daily 1711-12). The Spectator and The Tatler (triweekly, 1709-11, also written by Steele) are commemorated in the modern magazines of the same name (see below Magazine publishing), but their incorporation of social and artistic news and comment influenced the content of the contemporary newspaper permanently. Sales of the popular Spectator sometimes ran as high as 3,000 copies, and already this circulation level was enough to attract advertising. An excise duty on advertisements was introduced by the Stamp Act (1712), along with other so-called taxes on knowledge aimed at curbing the nascent power of the press. The rate of duty, at one penny on a whole sheet (four sides of print), was the same as the cover price of The Spectator, and this effective doubling of the price killed it, along with many other newspapers. But the newspaper had already become a permanent part of the social and literary life in London, and not even higher duties could prevent the proliferation of newspaper titles throughout the century.
Typical of the new breed of English papers was The Daily Advertiser (1730-1807), which offered advertising space along with news of a political, commercial, and social nature. An important gap in the political pages was filled from 1771, when the right to publish proceedings in Parliament had been granted. This right was not won lightly, for illicit accounts of debates in the House had appeared in the monthly Political State of Great Britain (1711-40) and every effort had been made to stop them. But campaigners such as the political reformer John Wilkes (with the North Briton, 1762) eventually won out. Politicians of both Whig and Tory sympathies ran their own often scurrilous newspapers or simply bribed journalists with occasional handouts and annual stipends, but later in the century there emerged a more sophisticated reader who demanded, and received, an independent viewpoint. Eminent newspapers of the time included the Morning Post (1772), The Times (from 1788, but started as the Daily Universal Register in 1785), and The Observer (1791), each of which is still published (although the Morning Post was later merged with the Daily Telegraph). Censorship continued in the guise of frequent libel prosecutions, and as late as 1810 the radical political essayist William Cobbett was imprisoned and fined for denouncing flogging in the army, but the principle of a free press, at least in peacetime conditions, had been firmly established.
The expense of employing a large team of reporters, some of whom could be out of the office for months, proved impossible for smaller papers, thus paving the way for the news agency. The French businessman Charles Havas had began this development in 1835 by turning a translation company into an agency offering the French press translated items from the chief European papers. His carrier-pigeon service between London, Paris, and Brussels followed, turning the company into an international concern that sold news items and that, eventually, also dealt in advertising space. Paul Julius Reuter, a former Havas employee, was among the first to exploit the new telegraphic cable lines in Germany, but his real success came in London, where he set up shop in 1851 as a supplier of overseas commercial information. Expansion soon led to the creation of the Reuters service of foreign telegrams to the press, an organization that grew with the spread of the British Empire to cover a large part of the world. In the United States, meanwhile, a very different type of agency--the newspaper cooperative--had arisen. Six New York City papers were the founding members; they suspended their traditional rivalries to share the cost of reporting the war with Mexico (1846-48) by establishing the New York Associated Press agency. Between 1870 and 1934, a series of agency treaties divided the world into exclusive territories for each major agency, but thereafter freedom of international operation was reinstated. The press agencies ensured a continuous supply of international "spot news"--i.e., the bare facts about events as they occur--and raised standards of objective news reporting. For their feature pages, American newspaper editors came to rely on the feature syndicates, which supplied ready-to-use material from medical columns and book reviews to astrological forecasts and crossword puzzles.
The character of a newspaper could change radically under a new owner or editor. In New York City, an individual stamp was put on the influential Evening Post by its scholarly editor, Parke Godwin. The New York Sun had started life in 1833 as the first of the inexpensive popular papers known as the "penny press," with its founder, Benjamin H. Day, successfully exploiting a vein of demand for inconsequential "human-interest" stories. Later, under Charles A. Dana (after 1868), the Sun rose in style and prominence. The New York Times (1851), long in the shadow of the more vigorous Herald and Tribune, struck an important and lasting blow for the independence of the press by exposing an attempted bribe of the Times' editor by Tammany Hall politician William Marcy ("Boss") Tweed; the reported $5,000,000 sum offered and rejected was an ample indication of the growing power of the press.
In 1836 the Stamp Tax was reduced to one penny, and in 1855 it was abolished entirely. This gradual relaxation of an impost on newspapers produced higher circulations for existing newspapers and encouraged the publication of new titles. Many were cheap, lurid crime sheets that disappeared as fast as they emerged. One exception was the sensational Sunday paper, the News of the World (1843), which attracted more readers than any other Sunday paper in Britain for more than a century. More characteristic of the age was the Daily Telegraph(1855), a penny paper, but one that competed directly with The Times by covering serious news stories and including thoughtful editorial comment on four sides of print, but at a quarter of the price of the fourpenny Times.
Disunity and political censorship continued to restrict the German press, although one independent daily, the Allgemeine Zeitung (Tübingen, 1798), managed to achieve wide influence. Farther north in Sweden, despite the freedom of speech granted to the press in 1766, the first notable newspaper (the Aftonbladet, founded by Lars Johan Hierta) was not begun until 1830.
Toward the middle of the century, censorship was abolished or relaxed in many other countries, including Switzerland (1848) and Denmark (1849). The new freedoms, together with the spread of literacy, gave birth to important newspapers, many of which still survive, including Le Figaro (Paris, 1854, daily from 1866), Frankfurter Zeitung (1856), Le Peuple (Brussels, date unknown), and the Corriere della Sera (Milan, 1876). In Spain and Portugal, censorship continued to prevent the development of true journalistic independence; any periods of comparative freedom were quickly followed by the reimposition of controls. In Russia strict censorship remained in force under the tsars, apart from a single decade (1855-65) of tolerance under Alexander II, when many new papers appeared. But limitations on publication were reimposed when it was found that greater freedom allowed radical ideas to be voiced, and the Russian press, like that in much of Europe, was forced to concentrate on literary rather than journalistic achievements.
The arrival of the U.S. naval officer Commodore Perry in Japan in 1853 was announced to the public in kawara-bans, which continued to be published for some years, though they began to be superseded by English-language newspapers. The first of these, the Nagasaki Shipping List and Advertiser (1861), was followed in the next five years by numerous periodicals, mainly translations produced by the shogunate Office for Reviewing Barbarian Papers. The office translated items from newspapers of China, Hong Kong, and the United States, as did Joseph Heko, a naturalized U.S. citizen and an interpreter at the American Embassy, in his monthly Kaigai shimbun (1865-66). The news items were therefore out of date, of little concern to the average Japanese, and too much resembling official announcements to be regarded as true newspapers. In 1867, however, the overthrow of the shogunate and the restoration of the Meiji led to the publication of more than a dozen newspapers concerned with domestic issues. Mainly issued by shogunate sympathizers, they included the Koko shimbun, whose publisher, the dramatist and educator Fukuchi Genichiro, had studied Western newspapers on his official travels abroad for the Japanese government (and who was later, in 1874, to preside over the Nichi-Nichi shimbun, which was closer to Western newspapers in style). The government soon suppressed these publications and promulgated the Newspaper Ordinance, which, in its 1871 version, decreed that the contents of a newspaper should always be "in the interest of governing the nation," a principle that was already anathema to many European and North American publishers.
Arrests of journalists and the supression of newspapers were common in the 1870s, but the decade nevertheless saw the birth of several giants of contemporary Japanese journalism. In 1870 the Yokohama Mainichi, the first daily in Japan, was started; it was also one of the first to use lead type. Two years later the Tokyo Nichi-Nichi appeared as one of the first truly modern Japanese newspapers, although it regarded itself as virtually an official gazette. The Yomiuri shimbun, one of the three leading national dailies in modern Japan, was founded in Tokyo in 1874, and it soon gained a reputation as a "literary" newspaper. The other two principal papers--the Osaka Nippo (1876) and the Osaka Asahi (1879)--were to become, respectively, the Osaka Mainichi and the Asahi shimbun (created in the early 1940s by a merger with the Tokyo Asahi, founded in 1888). They are associated with two of the fathers of modern Japanese newspaper publishing, Murayama Ryuhei (Asahi) and Motoyama Hikochi (Mainichi). Motoyama took full control of the Mainichi in 1903 and three years later added the Tokyo Nichi-Nichi to his publishing empire.
In other parts of the world a familiar cycle took place, with prohibition or strict censorship gradually giving way to the demand for a free press, although colonial governments long exercised an especially tight control on political publications. Canada had its first newspapers as early as the 18th century. These developed regionally and catered to both English and French speakers in Montreal, Quebec, and Toronto. Fine standards of journalism were later set by the Winnipeg Free Press (1872).
Parts of India also had an early service, with newsletters being circulated from the 16th century. Under British rule, both English- and vernacular-language papers flourished--the latter under government control--and enviable standards were set by The Times of India (1838, formerly the Bombay Times) and The Hindu (1878).
Several Australian titles date to the early years of settlement, notable ones being the Sydney Morning Herald (1831), the Melbourne Argus (1846), and The Age (1854). Full censorship lasted until 1824 and the stamp tax until 1830, but one title (The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser) was being published as early as 1803. The first issue of New Zealand's earliest newspaper, the New Zealand Gazette, was printed by emigrants even before their departure from London. The second issue awaited the installation of printing facilities in Wellington in 1840, when large-scale colonization was begun, but in the same year the New Zealand Advertiser was added to the list. The Taranaki Herald began publication in 1852.
In South Africa a press law was passed in 1828 to secure a modicum of publishing freedom, mainly through the efforts of the editor of the country's first paper, the South African Commercial Advertiser. Later papers, such as the Cape Argus (1857), were often tied to commercial and mining interests at first, but later their editors began to insist on freer commentary. The racially divided nature of the country has prevented, however, absolute freedom even in modern times. Similar restrictions continue to be applied to publishers in many other African and Asian countries, in eastern Europe, and in Latin America, although the political complexion of the various regimes may differ.