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History of the Newspaper: and why they’re still important

History of the Newspaper
and why they’re still important
by Jennifer LB Leese

The history of newspapers is one of those fascinating stories that not many people have ever heard about. Well, after reading this article, you will no longer be one of those people.
Handwritten newsletters circulated privately among merchants in Renaissance Europe. These newsletters passed along information about everything from wars and economic conditions 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 pamphlets or broadsides, often highly sensationalized in content. Some of the most famous of these report the atrocities against Germans in Transylvania perpetrated by a sadistic veovod named Vlad Tsepes Drakul, who became the Count Dracula of later folklore.
"In the English-speaking world, the earliest predecessors of the newspaper were corantos, small news pamphlets produced only when some event worthy of notice occurred. 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 in the similar newsbook format. 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.
"In America the first newspaper appeared in Boston in 1690, entitled Publick Occurrences. Published without authority, it was immediately suppressed, its publisher arrested, and all copies were destroyed. Indeed, it remained forgotten until 1845 when the only known surviving example was discovered in the British Library. The first successful newspaper was the Boston News-Letter, begun by postmaster John Campbell in 1704. Although it was heavily subsidized by the colonial government the experiment was a near-failure, with very limited circulation. Two more papers made their appearance in the 1720's, in Philadelphia and New York, and the Fourth Estate slowly became established on the new continent. By the eve of the Revolutionary War, some two dozen papers were issued at all the colonies, although Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania would remain the centers of American printing for many years. Articles in colonial papers, brilliantly conceived by revolutionary propagandists, were a major force that influenced public opinion in America from reconciliation with England to full political independence.
"At war's end in 1783 there were forty-three newspapers in print. The press played a vital role in the affairs of the new nation; many more newspapers were started, representing all shades of political opinion. The no holds barred style of early journalism, much of it libelous by modern standards, reflected the rough and tumble political life of the republic as rival factions jostled for power. The ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791 at last guaranteed of freedom of the press, and America's newspapers began to take on a central role in national affairs. Growth continued in every state. By 1814 there were 346 newspapers. In the Jacksonian populist 1830's, advances in printing and papermaking technology led to an explosion of newspaper growth, the emergence of the "Penny Press"; it was now possible to produce a newspaper that could be sold for just a cent a copy. Previously, newspapers were the province of the wealthy, literate minority. The price of a year's subscription, usually over a full week's pay for a laborer, had to be paid in full and "invariably in advance." This sudden availability of cheap, interesting reading material was a significant stimulus to the achievement of the nearly universal literacy now taken for granted in America." (
So the next time you hear that newspapers may be going all digital - fight it! The history alone is worth keeping newspapers in your hands. But if just getting "the news" isn't good enough, here are a few "other" ideas for what newspapers are good for:

Make Your Own Cat Litter
1. Shred the newspaper.
2. Next, soak it in warm water mixed with a few squirts of gentle, biodegradable dish soap. The shredded paper takes on a cooked oatmeal consistency. The paper won't come completely clean, but the water will turn gray.
3. Now, drain the water (an old colander works well) and repeat the soaking process now without the soap.
4. Sprinkle baking soda generously on the wet paper. Knead it in to the mixture.
5. Squeeze the remaining moisture out until it's as dry as you can get it.
6. Crumble over a screen and leave it there to dry (this may take a few days).
7. Once it is dry, put about an inch and a half to two inches of the paper crumbles in the litter box. Scoop solids daily and change it once a week.
(Note: the whole process takes only about 30 to 45 minutes to make a two- to three-week supply of newspaper litter - minus the few days drying, of course).

Go Fly a Kite!
"Open the newspaper and find a sheet that has four pages on it, front and back. Place the sheet long ways, and center one of the sticks vertically, about an inch below the top edge of the newspaper.
Place the second stick horizontally, across the first stick. Bind them together with string into a cross shape. Now trim the horizontal stick so that each side is about an inch shorter than the newspaper.
Tie a single piece of string to each end of each stick, so that you have a line of string making a diamond shape. Make sure your kite frame is centered over the newspaper, and then trim the paper so that it is an over-sized version of the kite frame. Each side of the newspaper should extend beyond the frame at least two inches. Cut notches in the newspaper around each end of the frame.
Fold the newspaper over each side of the kite frame, gluing as you go. Elmer's Glue works great. When you are finished gluing, flip the kite over and tie two short lengths of string to the ends of each stick. This is where you will attach the rest of the string for flying the kite.
Give your kite a tail, using ribbon, or tear some old rags into strips and use those, the ribbon will help you to control the newspaper kite.
Go fly a kite!" (

Use Newspaper in Your Garden
* Lay down 2 to 5 sheets of newspaper.
* Leave three-inch diameter holes for the plants.
* Throw a two- or three-inch layer of mulch on top of the newspaper: Grass clippings, straw, leaves, etc.
The newspapers decompose before next season.

Wrap it Up!
If you are moving, newspapers are great for wrapping and protecting your glassware. With a good cardboard box and your items wrapped securely in newspapers, you aren't bound to have any breakage!

Squeaky Clean
Newspapers can also be used to polish and dry windowpanes. Crumple a newspaper and use it instead of a paper towel. It will absorb and polish much better.

Protection Anyone?
They are also a great way to protect your windowpanes when you're painting. Wet some newspapers and stick them on the windows. This will protect the windowpanes from any paint spills or drips.

The Miracle Worker
If your shoes happen to get wet by rain or any other method, the best way to dry them fast is to put in balled newspapers inside the shoes. You'll find your shoes dry in almost no time. Newspapers can act as deodorizers for plastic containers, wooden boxes and even suitcases. Fold a few newspapers into them and leave for a few days. You'll discover all the rancid smell gone.

The Nurse
Your friend or a child fell down, and you fear that he or she may have broken an arm or a leg, while you get help you can do this first, wrap the arm or the leg with several sheets of newspapers and tape them. It is like a make-do plaster and will help to immobilize the leg or arm to prevent any further damage.

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