THE PAST

When and where was the world’s first newspaper published?

This depends on what we mean by "newspaper." Suppose we mean something that is published—that is, intended to be circulated to multiple persons, many of whom may be unknown to the publisher (unlike a personal letter); periodical (unlike a broadside published to communicate news about a specific occasion without any promise or expectation of further publication); printed (thereby making possible a general circulation much more difficult and expensive to achieve in handwritten form); and present-centered in its subject matter. Then we can pinpoint an answer fairly well: The first newspaper was produced in Strasbourg, Germany, by a printer, Johann Carolus, in 1605. Others would follow soon thereafter.

The first newspaper in English was not far behind. It was published in 1620. What may surprise the modern reader is that it was published not in London or Oxford but in Amsterdam, which was also the home of the first newspaper in French. Both French- and English-language newspapers in Amsterdam translated German and Dutch newspapers for the French and English markets.

 
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