A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features, editorials, and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6,580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a day. The worldwide recession of 2008, combined with the rapid growth of web-based alternatives, caused a serious decline in advertising and circulation, as many papers closed or sharply retrenched operations.
General-interest newspapers typically publish stories on local and national political events and personalities, crime, business, entertainment, society and sports. Most traditional papers also feature an editorial page containing editorials written by an editor and columns that express the personal opinions of writers. The newspaper is typically funded by paid subscriptions and advertising.
A wide variety of material has been published in newspapers, including editorial opinions, criticism, persuasion and op-eds; obituaries; entertainment features such as crosswords, sudoku and horoscopes; weather news and forecasts; advice, food and other columns; reviews of radio, movies, television, plays and restaurants; classified ads; display ads, radio and television listings, inserts from local merchants, editorial cartoons, gag cartoons and comic strips.
- Publicity: Its contents are reasonably accessible to the public.
- Periodicity: It is published at regular intervals.
- Currency: Its information is up to date.
- Universality: It covers a range of topics.
Gazettes and bulletins
In China, early government-produced news sheets, called tipao, circulated among court officials during the late Han dynasty (second and third centuries AD). Between 713 and 734, the Kaiyuan Za Bao ("Bulletin of the Court") of the Chinese Tang Dynasty published government news; it was handwritten on silk and read by government officials. In 1582, there was the first reference to privately published newssheets in Beijing, during the late Ming Dynasty.
In Early modern Europe the increased cross-border interaction created a rising need for information which was met by concise handwritten newssheets, called avvisi. In 1556, the government of Venice first published the monthly Notizie scritte, which cost one gazetta, a small coin. These avvisi were handwritten newsletters and used to convey political, military, and economic news quickly and efficiently to Italian cities (1500–1700) — sharing some characteristics of newspapers though usually not considered true newspapers.
However, none of these publications fully met the classical criteria for proper newspapers, as they were typically not intended for the general public and restricted to a certain range of topics.
The German-language Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien, printed from 1605 onwards by Johann Carolus in Strasbourg, is often recognized as the first newspaper. At the time, Strasbourg was a free imperial city in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation; the first newspaper of modern Germany was the Avisa, published in 1609 in Wolfenbüttel.
Other early papers include:
The Dutch Courante uyt Italien, Duytslandt, &c. ('Courant from Italy, Germany, etc.') of 1618 was the first to appear in folio- rather than quarto-size. Amsterdam, a center of world trade, quickly became home to newspapers in many languages, often before they were published in their own country.
The first English-language newspaper, Corrant out of Italy, Germany, etc., was published in Amsterdam in 1620. A year and a half later, Corante, or weekely newes from Italy, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Bohemia, France and the Low Countreys. was published in England by an "N.B." (generally thought to be either Nathaniel Butter or Nicholas Bourne) and Thomas Archer.
Opregte Haarlemsche Courant from Haarlem, first published in 1656, is the oldest paper still printed. It was forced to merge with the newspaper Haarlems Dagblad in 1942 when Germany occupied the Netherlands. Since then the Haarlems Dagblad has appeared with the subtitle Oprechte Haerlemse Courant 1656.
In Boston in 1690, Benjamin Harris published Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick. This is considered the first newspaper in the American colonies even though only one edition was published before the paper was suppressed by the government. In 1704, the governor allowed The Boston News-Letter to be published and it became the first continuously published newspaper in the colonies. Soon after, weekly papers began publishing in New York and Philadelphia. These early newspapers followed the British format and were usually four pages long. They mostly carried news from Britain and content depended on the editor's interests. In 1783, the Pennsylvania Evening Post became the first American daily.
In 1752, John Bushell published the Halifax Gazette, which claims to be "Canada's first newspaper." However, its official descendant, the Royal Gazette, is a government publication for legal notices and proclamations rather than a proper newspaper;
In 1764, the Quebec Gazette was first printed June 21, 1764 and remains the oldest continuously published newspaper in North America as the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph. It is currently published as an English-language weekly from its offices at 1040 Belvédère, suite 218, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
The first newspaper in South America was Diario de Pernambuco, established in 1825.
By 2007, there were 1,456 daily newspapers in the U.S., selling 55 million copies a day.
By the early 19th century, many cities in Europe, as well as North and South America, published newspaper-type publications though not all of them developed in the same way; content was vastly shaped by regional and cultural preferences. Advances in printing technology related to the Industrial Revolution enabled newspapers to become an even more widely circulated means of communication. In 1814, The Times (London) acquired a printing press capable of making 1,100 impressions per minute.
Soon, it was adapted to print on both sides of a page at once. This innovation made newspapers cheaper and thus available to a larger part of the population. In 1830, the first penny press newspaper came to the market: Lynde M. Walter's Boston Transcript. Penny press papers cost about one sixth the price of other newspapers and appealed to a wider audience. In France, Émile de Girardin started "La Presse" in 1836, introducing cheap, advertising-supported dailies to France. In 1848, August Zang, an Austrian who knew Girardin in Paris, returned to Vienna to introduce the same methods with "Die Presse" (which was named for and frankly copied Girardin's publication).
While most newspapers are aimed at a broad spectrum of readers, usually geographically defined, some focus on groups of readers defined more by their interests than their location: for example, there are daily and weekly business newspapers and sports newspapers. More specialist still are some weekly newspapers, usually free and distributed within limited areas; these may serve communities as specific as certain immigrant populations, or the local gay community.
A daily newspaper is issued every day, sometimes with the exception of Sundays and occasionally Saturdays, and often of some national holidays. Saturday and, where they exist, Sunday editions of daily newspapers tend to be larger, include more specialized sections and advertising inserts, and cost more. Typically, the majority of these newspapers’ staff work Monday to Friday, so the Sunday and Monday editions largely depend on content done in advance or content that is syndicated. Most daily newspapers are published in the morning. Afternoon or evening papers are aimed more at commuters and office workers.
- UK—daily vs. Sunday
In the UK, unlike most other countries, "daily" newspapers do not publish on Sundays. In the past there were independent Sunday newspapers; nowadays the same publisher often produces a Sunday newspaper, distinct in many ways from the daily, usually with a related name; e.g. The Times and The Sunday Times are distinct newspapers owned by the same company, and an article published in the latter would never be credited to The Times.
Weekly and other
Weekly newspapers are published once a week, and tend to be smaller than daily papers. Some newspapers are published two or three times a week; in the United States, such newspapers are generally called weeklies. Some publications are published, for example, fortnightly.
Geographical scope and distribution
Local or regional
A local newspaper serves a region such as a city, or part of a large city. Almost every market has one or two newspapers that dominate the area. Large metropolitan newspapers often have large distribution networks, and can be found outside their normal area, sometimes widely, sometimes from fewer sources.
Most nations have at least one newspaper that circulates throughout the whole country: a national newspaper. Some national newspapers, such as The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal, are specialised (in these examples, on financial matters). There are many national newspapers in the UK, but only few in the United States and Canada. In the United States, in addition to national newspapers as such, The New York Times is available throughout the country.
There is also a small group of newspapers which may be characterized as international newspapers. Some, such as The International Herald Tribune, have always had that focus, while others are repackaged national newspapers or "international editions" of national or large metropolitan newspapers. In some cases articles that might not interest the wider range of readers are omitted from international editions; in others, of interest to expatriates, significant national news is retained.
As English became the international language of business and technology, many newspapers formerly published only in non-English languages have also developed English-language editions. In places as varied as Jerusalem and Mumbai, newspapers are printed for a local and international English-speaking public, and for tourists. The advent of the Internet has also allowed non-English-language newspapers to put out a scaled-down English version to give their newspaper a global outreach.
Similarly, in many countries with a large foreign-language-speaking population or many tourists, newspapers in languages other than the national language are both published locally and imported. For example, newspapers and magazines from many countries, and locally published newspapers in many languages, are readily to be found on news-stands in central London.
General newspapers cover all topics, with different emphasis. While at least mentioning all topics, some might have good coverage of international events of importance; others might concentrate more on national or local entertainment or sports. Specialised newspapers might concentrate more specifically on, for example, financial matters. There are publications covering exclusively sports, or certain sports, horse-racing, theatre, and so on, although they may no longer be called newspapers.
For centuries newspapers were printed on paper and distributed physically to readers.
Virtually all printed newspapers have online editions distributed over the Internet which, depending on the country may be regulated by journalism organizations such as the Press Complaints Commission in the UK. But as some publishers find their print-based models increasingly unsustainable, Web-based "newspapers" have also started to appear, such as the Southport Reporter in the UK and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which stopped publishing in print after 149 years in March 2009 and went online only.
A new trend in newspaper publishing is the introduction of personalization through on-demand printing technologies. Customized newspapers allow the reader to create their individual newspaper through the selection of individual pages from multiple publications. This "Best of" approach allows to revive the print-based model and opens up a new distribution channel to increase coverage beneath the usual boundaries of distribution. Customized newspapers online have been offered by MyYahoo, I-Google, CRAYON, ICurrent.com, Kibboko.com, Twitter.times and many others.
Organization and personnel
In the United States, the overall manager or chief executive of the newspaper is the publisher. In small newspapers, the owner of the publication (or the largest shareholder in the corporation that owns the publication) is usually the publisher. Although he or she rarely or perhaps never writes stories, the publisher is legally responsible for the contents of the entire newspaper and also runs the business, including hiring editors, reporters, and other staff members. This title is less common outside the U.S. The equivalent position in the film industry and television news shows is the executive producer.
Most newspapers have four main departments devoted to publishing the newspaper itself—editorial, production/printing, circulation, and advertising, although they are frequently referred to by a variety of other names—as well as the non-newspaper-specific departments also found in other businesses of comparable size, such as accounting, marketing, human resources, and IT.
Throughout the English-speaking world, the person who selects the content for the newspaper is usually referred to as the editor. Variations on this title such as editor-in-chief, executive editor, and so on are common. For small newspapers, a single editor may be responsible for all content areas. At large newspapers, the most senior editor is in overall charge of the publication, while less senior editors may each focus on one subject area, such as local news or sports. These divisions are called news bureaus or "desks", and each is supervised by a designated editor. Most newspaper editors copy edit the stories for their part of the newspaper, but they may share their workload with proofreaders and fact checkers.
Reporters are journalists who primarily report facts that they have gathered and those who write longer, less news-oriented articles may be called feature writers. Photographers and graphic artists provide images and illustrations to support articles. Journalists often specialize in a subject area, called a beat, such as sports, religion, or science. Columnists are journalists who write regular articles recounting their personal opinions and experiences.
Printers and press operators physically print the newspaper. Printing is outsourced by many newspapers, partly because of the cost of an offset web press (the most common kind of press used to print newspapers) and also because a small newspaper's print run might require less than an hour of operation, meaning that if the newspaper had its own press it would sit idle most of the time. If the newspaper offers information online, webmasters and web designers may be employed to upload stories to the newspaper's website.
The staff of the circulation department liaise with retailers who sell the newspaper; sell subscriptions; and supervise distribution of the printed newspapers through the mail, by newspaper carriers, at retailers, and through vending machines. Free newspapers do not sell subscriptions, but they still have a circulation department responsible for distributing the newspapers.
Sales staff in the advertising department not only sell space to clients such as local businesses, but also help advertisers design and plan their advertising campaigns. Other members of the advertising department may include graphic designers, who design ads according to the customers' specifications and the department's policies. In an advertising-free newspaper, there is no advertising department.
Zoned and other editions
Newspapers often refine distribution of ads and news through zoning and editioning. Zoning occurs when advertising and editorial content change to reflect the location to which the product is delivered. The editorial content often may change merely to reflect changes in advertising — the quantity and layout of which affects the space available for editorial — or may contain region-specific news. In rare instances, the advertising may not change from one zone to another, but there will be different region-specific editorial content. As the content can vary widely, zoned editions are often produced in parallel.
Editioning occurs in the main sections as news is updated throughout the night. The advertising is usually the same in each edition (with the exception of zoned regionals, in which it is often the ‘B’ section of local news that undergoes advertising changes). As each edition represents the latest news available for the next press run, these editions are produced linearly, with one completed edition being copied and updated for the next edition. The previous edition is always copied to maintain a Newspaper of Record and to fall back on if a quick correction is needed for the press. For example, both The New York Times and