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Towards a Modern Newspaper

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Towards a Modern Newspaper

The final phase of the Renaissance witnessed rapid change within the newspaper industry, and the period after the collapse of censorship in 1679 saw the appearance of titles and trends which would shape the modern newspaper. It is to this period that we owe the idea of the topical magazine, as well as the very first attempt to produce the daily newspaper.

The London Gazette. no. 85 London, 1666

In March 1702 the first regular daily national newspaper--The Daily Courant-- was produced. The early eighteenth century witnessed the emergence of new kinds of serial publications, whose titles are familiar today. The first of these, The Tatler, was founded in 1709 by Richard Steele along with his close friend, Joseph Addison. Together they adopted the pseudonym “Isaac Bickerstaff” in order to provide satirical and moral essays, as well as theater criticism, three times a week.


After the closure of The Tatler by the Tory government, Addison and Steele quickly re-emerged with a daily journal titled The Spectator. In its first issue, Addison promised to “observe” rather than comment, and to maintain “an exact neutrality between the Whigs and Tories.” As a regular visitor to London’s coffeehouses, he boasted about his ability to provide gossip that had been gleaned by “thrusting my head into a round of politicians.”


Another milestone was the publication of The London Gazette. Originally begun as the Oxford Gazette in 1665, this was an official newspaper run by under-secretary of state Joseph Williamson, and written by a series of leading journalists and authors. Renamed and relocated in 1666, The London Gazette has been “published by authority” and run uninterrupted ever since.


The Spectator. London, 1711

The Daily Courant, no. 1992. Wednesday 7 July 1708

The Tatler. By Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq. London, 1710

Exhibition Highlights

News Before Newspapers

Formatting the News


Surviving the Centuries

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