The earliest variation on a newspaper was a daily sheet published in 59 ВС in Rome called Acta Diurna (Daily Events), which Julius Caesar ordered posted throughout the city. The earliest known printed newspaper was in Beijing in 748.
In Renaissance Europe handwritten newsletters cir¬culated privately among merchants, passing along infor¬mation about everything from wars and economic condi¬tions to social customs and «human interest» features. The first printed forerunners of the newspaper appeared in Germany in the late 1400's in the form of news pam¬phlets or broadsheets, often highly sensationalized in content. Some of the most famous of those reported the atrocities against Germans in Transylvania perpetrated by Vlad Tsepes Drakul, who became the Count Dracula of later folklore.
In the English-speaking world, the earliest predeces¬sors of the newspaper were corantos, small news pam¬phlets produced only when some event worthy of notice occurred. News pamphlets appeared only from time to time and cannot be classed as newspapers, though they were unquestionably the immediate forerunners of the British press. The first successively published title was The Weekly Newes of 1622. It was followed in the 1640's and 1650's by a plethora of different titles. The first true newspaper in English was the London Gazette of 1666. For a generation it was the only officially sanctioned newspaper, though many periodical titles were in print by the century's end.
Earlv American journalism. Before the 1700's, the American colonists relied on pamphlets, handwritten newsletters, English newspapers, and town criers for the news. In 1690, Benjamin Harris of Boston founded Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, the first newspaper published in America. But the colonial government stopped it after one issue. In 1704, John Campbell established the Boston News-Letter, the first regularly published paper in the colonies.
John Peter Zenger founded the New-York Weekly Journal in 1733 and soon won a victory for a free press. In the paper, he criticized the royal governor of New York. The governor's council had Zenger arrested, and in 1735 he was tried for libel. The jury found Zenger not guilty after his attorney argued that Zenger had printed the truth and that truth is not libelous.
By 1765, the American Colonies had more than 20 newspapers. That year, the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act*. The act required that special tax stamps* be placed on all newspapers, legal documents, and other printed material. The colonists protested. Newspapers continued to publish without buying the stamps, and they supported the colonists. In 1766, Parliament repealed the law. But the newspapers remained a powerful force against British rule and helped propel America toward the Revolutionary War (1775-1783).
The growth of U.S. newspapers was rapid during the 1800s. By 1830, the country had about 1,000 papers. But most of these papers concentrated on business or political news. They also sold for about 6 cents a copy- far more than working-class people could afford. In 1833, Benjamin H. Day founded the New York Sun, the first successful penny newspaper. The Sun attracted large audience because of its low cost and its lively reports of fires, crimes, marriages, and other human-interest news.