Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Yesterday's News: "The London Times" Nov 18, 1812

In 1995, Craig Newmark created an online bulletin board system that we know very well today as Craigslist. For those of you unfamiliar with how it works one can jump on to Craigslist and access a community of people from your local major city. From there you can network with certain people or groups, find jobs, buy a boat or just about anything, advertise your small business, and so much more. It connects people locally that few avenues ever have. However I recently received an original copy of the London Times, Nov 1812, from "Historic Newspaper." When I started to go through the front page I quickly noticed something apparent, it was not the news but rather a giant bulletin board service. 

Typically when you read a paper today the front page contains anywhere from three to five headline articles that capture the readers attention and draws them in to reading more pages beyond the front. The typically paper in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had four to five columns running down the entire page with dozens and dozens of short articles or personals, typically with no pictures. This edition from 1812 included information on estates that needed claimed, lawsuits that were pending, a business that was putting together a lottery, and job openings for adults and children. What I found interesting is the very personal nature that some of them conveyed. For instance of the saddest was a recent widow, age 40 with three children, who was seeking room and board along with a job to help her family. You could almost sense the desperation in the single paragraph and as I read it I contemplated what might have happened to that woman and her children. One can only hope someone was generous enough to help her out. This entire front page is littered with random information that people have personally posted for the public to see, much like Craigslist is today. 

So the question you ask yourself is, where is the news? Well that can be found on the following pages. So the question is why did they put the news in the back and the personals on the front, the complete reverse of how we do it? People then read the paper from front to back, remember it was their only form of communication and news in the city. People would gather in taverns and homes and talk about what they read or discuss issues brought up in the paper. So there then there was no need to headline grabbers to convince short-attention span individuals to keep reading. It was a much different era from our digital, 140 character world. I would love to hear from anyone that had more information or a deeper knowledge on the reason papers were written in this manner, I find it fascinating. 

Interested in purchasing original historical newspaper see:
Historic Newspapers - www.historic-newspapers.co.uk
Special Coupon Code for my readers - 15TODAY

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