The London Daily Press, 1772-1792

The London Daily Press, 1772-1792

The London Daily Press, 1772-1792

The London Daily Press, 1772-1792

Excerpt

The first London daily newspaper made its appearance in 1702. It was entitled the Daily Courant, and it consisted of a prospectus and some short paragraphs translated from Continental journals, the whole occupying two columns, one page folio, and selling for 1d. The prospectus promised that

[the author] will not, under pretence of having private intelligence, impose any additions of feigned circumstances to an action, but give his extracts fairly and impartially[;] at the beginning of each article he will quote the foreign paper from whence 'tis taken, that the public, seeing from what country a piece of news comes with the allowance of that government, may be better able to judge the credibility and fairness of the relation. Nor will he take upon him to give any comments or conjectures of his own, but will relate only matter of fact, supposing other people to have sense enough to make reflections for themselves.

The Courant evidently prospered, for on 22 April it supplemented its translations with some domestic "matter of fact" and a handful of advertisements, which, printed on the reverse side of the sheet, swelled the number of pages to two; and a few years later its sale was estimated at 800 a day. The Courant maintained its independence for approximately twelve years.

In 1712 Parliament smuggled into legislation the first of many Stamp Acts. The act stipulated that every newspaper printed on a half-sheet or less would henceforth be taxed 1/2d., every newspaper printed on a whole sheet 1d., and every newspaper printed on more than one sheet 2s. a sheet; in addition it stipulated that every advertisement accepted for publication would henceforth be taxed 1s. The effect of this act was to destroy the independent press. The Courant capitulated to the Whigs, and, for the next many years, the history of newspapers is only another chronicle of political corruption. The corruption in turn had another effect, which was to overpopulate the country with newspapers. In 1712 the reading public was obviously too small to support more than one daily newspaper, but in 1719 the Tories added a second, the Daily Post, and by 1724 they had added a third, the Daily Journal. Since the Tories were subsidizing the Post and the Journal in their entirety, as the Whigs were subsidizing the Courant, the three newspapers fared very well until the 1730's, when . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.