Read about the ancestors of our newspapers
The oldest British national newspaper is about one hundred and eighty-five years old, but news-sheets of various kinds have been known in different parts of the world for many centuries. The Romans sent news in the form of letters to their distant soldiers. There was no paper, as we know it, in those days. Few people could read. The messages were hand-written on a material made from the skin of a sheep, and read aloud to the soldiers.
In 60 B.C., Emperor Julius Caesar started a daily bulletin in the Forum at Rome. The Forum was the meeting place of the Senators who governed the city. The bulletin was fixed at a convenient point where the senators could read the news on their way to and from their discussions.
This method of giving information is still used today. Notices and bulletins are pinned to notice boards in offices and factories; schools and colleges run wall newspapers. Typed sheets of news or articles are placed on large notice boards. The entire contents of the board are changed at fixed intervals, in the same way as a new edition of a newspaper is printed daily or weekly.
In the 16th century, the commonest form of news-sheet was a leaflet, consisting of a single sheet printed on one side only. Leaflets were sold in markets and country fairs on the Continent, and English translations appeared in this country. The leaflets were published only when there was news of wars, battles or disasters. No-one had yet thought of publishing a bulletin regularly.
The first English publication to contain domestic news appeared in 1641. It was called Diurnal Occurrences, and it was concerned mainly with the activities of Parliament. This was just before the start of the Civil War, in 1642.
In 1665, the first number of a twice-weekly paper, The Oxford Gazette, was published. A few months later the name was changed to The London Gazette. This paper was the official paper of the Government. It did not contain news, and it did not try to entertain. It circulated among people such as bankers, solicitors and Members of Parliament.
Adapted from© The Story of Newspapers, by W.D. Siddle, Wills & Hepworth Ltd.
Read the text. For ítems 7-12 choose the option (a, b or c) which best completes them according to the text. Then write your answer in the corresponding white box of the questionnaire provided on the next page. Item 0 is an example.
0. The first British national newspaper is
a) about a century old.
b) less than a century old.
c) over a century old.
7. Roman messages were
a) inscribed on stones.
b) memorized and read aloud.
c) written on leather
8. The Forum was
a) a bulletin for the governors.
b) the Roman parliament.
c) where the Senators met.
9. The method of fixing news in visible places
a) became common after Roman times.
b) was common in Roman times.
c) was common until Roman times.
10. In the 16th century leaflets were
a) bought in markets.
b) printed on both sides of a sheet.
c) translated on the continent.
11. The main topic of the Diurnal Occurrences was the
a) Civil War.
b) daily news.
12. The London Gazette was
a) a London newspaper of parliament gossip.
b) a professional newspaper against the government.
c) the government’s newspaper.