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A newspaper is a lightweight and disposable publication (more specifically, a periodical), usually printed on low-cost paper called newsprint. It may be general or special-interest, and may be published daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly.
General-interest newspapers are usually journals of current news on a variety of topics. Those can include political events, crime, business, sports, and opinions (either editorials, columns, or political cartoons). Many also include weather news and forecasts. Newspapers increasingly use photographs to illustrate stories; they also often include comic strips and other entertainment, such as crosswords.
The general variety is issued every day (a daily newspaper), often with the exception of Sundays and some national holidays. Weekly newspapers, printed once a week, are also common; they tend to be smaller and less prestigious than daily papers.
Most nations have at least one newspaper that circulates throughout the whole country: a national newspaper, as contrasted with a local newspaper serving a city or region. In the United States and Canada, there are few truly national newspapers, with the notable exceptions of USA Today in the United States and The Globe and Mail and The National Post in Canada. Large metropolitan newspapers with expanded distribution networks such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Toronto Star can fill the role of de facto national newspapers.
The owner of the newspaper, or person in charge, is the publisher. The person responsible for content is the editor, editor-in-chief, or executive editor.
Newspapers have been developed around very narrow topic areas, such as news for merchants in a specific industry, fans of particular sports, fans of the arts or of specific artists, and participants in the same sorts of activities or lifestyles.
Regular publications have been created and distributed by governments for millennia, including Acta Diurna, a listing of events ordered by Julius Caesar in Ancient Rome in 59 B.C., and Mixed News, published in China in A.D. 713.
According to the World Association of Newspapers , the first English-language private newspaper, The Corante, was first published in London in 1621. The first English daily newspaper, the Daily Courant, was founded by Samuel Buckley on 11 March, 1702 (Publication ceased in 1735). In 1631, The Gazette, the first French newspaper, was founded, and in 1645, the oldest newspaper still in circulation, Post-och Inrikes Tidningar of Sweden, began publishing.
1690: Publick Occurrences in Boston became the first newspaper published in America. It was suppressed after one issue.
1701: September 6- Estimated first issue of the Norwich Post, which was probably the first provincial newspaper.
1709: Worcester Post-Man founded, which became Berrow’s Worcester Journal in 1753, The Worcester Post-Man/Berrow’s Worcester Journal is Britain’s oldest surviving un-official newspaper.
1785 The Daily Universal Register was founded by John Walters. It became The Times on January 1st, 1788.
1803: Just 15 years after the first British penal colony was established, Australia's military government published the Sydney Gazette and the New South Wales Advertiser, Australia's first newspapers.
1821 The Guardian was founded.
1884: Otto Merganthaler invented the linotype machine which casts type in full lines, using hot lead, a quantum leap in newspaper publishing, and issuing in the era of "hot lead." The systems remained in general production in the industry well into the 1980s, when computerized pagination became prominent.
1962: The Los Angeles Times drives linotype hot metal typesetters with perforated tape created from RCA computers speeding up the typesetting. The key was development of a dictionary and method to automate the hyphenation and justification of text in columns (tasks that had taken 40 percent of a manual operator's time).
1973: Harris introduced editing terminals, which were quickly followed by terminals from Raytheon, Atex, Digital Equipment Corporation and others. The output was strips of type on film from phototypesetters ("cold type" replacing the "hot type" of Linotype machines. Atex worked with the Minneapolis Star to develop the first pagination system that allowed the creation and output of full editorial pages, eliminating the need for manual paste-up of strips of film. The Atex system featured "Atex Messaging" which is widely believed to be the forerunner of both e-mail and instant messenger applications.
Most modern newspapers are in one of three sizes:
They are usually printed on a thin, somewhat rough paper known as newsprint. Since the 1980s, many newpapers have been printed with three-color process photography and graphics. This highlights the fact that the layout of the newspaper is of major importance in getting attention so readers will see and enjoy large sections of the newspaper.
Circulation and readership
The number of copies sold on an average day is called the newspaper's circulation, and is used to set advertising rates.
According to United Nations data from 1995 Japan has three daily papers with a circulation well above 4 million. Germany's Bild, with a circulation of 4.5 million, was the only other paper in that category.
In the United Kingdom The Sun is the top seller, with around 3,200,000 copies distributed daily (late-2004).
In the United States and the United Kingdom at least, circulation has been declining for many years.
USA Today has daily circulation of approximately 2 million, making it the most widely distributed paper in the country. However, the validity of USA Today's circulation figures are disputed by some in the newspaper community. This is because of the paper's contracts with hotels. Many of its papers are delivered to hotel guests who don't realize they are being charged for it.
In 2004, several large U.S. newspapers were found to have overstated their circulation.
Almost all newspapers make nearly all their money from advertising. The income from the customer's payment at the newsstand is a pittance in comparison. That is why all newspapers cost little and some are free. The portion of the newspaper that is not advertising is called editorial content or editorial matter.
Publishers of commercial newspapers strive for higher circulation so that advertising in their newspaper becomes more effective, allowing the newspaper to attract more advertisers and charge more for the service. But some advertising sales also market demographics: Some newspapers might sacrifice higher circulation numbers in favor of an audience with a higher income.
Many paid-for newspapers offer a variety of subscription plans. For example, someone might only want a Sunday paper, or perhaps only Sunday and Saturday, or maybe only a workweek subscription, or perhaps a daily subscription.
Some newspapers provide some or all of their content on the Internet, either at no cost or for a fee. In some cases free access is only available for a matter of days or weeks, or readers must register and provide personal data. In other cases, extensive free archives are provided.
Since newspapers began as a journal, or record of current events, the profession involved in the making of newpapers began to be called journalism. Much emphasis has been placed upon the value of the journalist to be accurate and fair in the historical record. (See Ethics).
In the yellow journalism era of the 19th century, many newspapers in the United States relied on sensational stories that were meant to anger or excite, rather than to inform. The more restrained style of reporting that relies on fact checking and accuracy regained popularity around World War II.
Criticism of journalism is varied and sometimes vehement. Charges of sensationalism have diminished to a degree. But credibility is questioned because of anonymous sources; errors in facts, spelling, and grammar; real or perceived bias; and scandals involving plagiarism and fabrication. Newspapers have often been owned by so-called press barons , either as a rich man's toy, or used as a political tool.
Even though the opinions of the owners are often relegated to the editorial section, and the opinions of the readers are in the op-ed ("opposite the editorial page") and letters to the editors sections of the paper, newspapers have been used for political purposes by insinuating some kind of bias outside of the editorial section and into straight news. For example, The New York Times is often criticized for a leftist slant to its stories, or, by others, for supporting the American political establishment in nearly all cases, whereas The Wall Street Journal has a history of emphasizing the position of the right.
Some ways newspapers have tried to improve their credibility are: appointing ombudsmen, developing ethics policies and training, using more stringent corrections policies, communicating their processes and rationale with readers, and asking sources to review articles after publication.
The future of newspapers
The future of newspapers is cloudy, with overall readership slowly declining in most developed countries due to increasing competition from television and the Internet. The 57th annual World Newspaper Congress, held in Istanbul in June 2004, reported circulation increases in only 35 of 208 countries studied. Most of the increase came in developing countries, notably China.
A report at the gathering said China tops total newspaper circulation, with more than 85 million copies of papers sold every day, followed by India with 72 million — China and India are the two most populous countries in the world — followed by Japan with 70 million and the United States with 55 million. The report said circulation declined by an average of 2.2 percent across 13 of the 15 countries that made up the European Union before May 1. The biggest declines were in Ireland, down 7.8 percent; Britain, down 4.7 percent; and Portugal, where numbers fell by 4.0 percent. One growth area is the distribution of free newspapers, which are not reflected in the above circulation data. They grew 16 percent in 2003.
Another growth area is high-quality tabloids, particularly in the UK, where several of the major broadsheets are experimenting with the format (see Broadsheet#Switch to smaller sizes). Smaller and easier to hold than broadsheets, but presenting real journalism rather than traditional tabloid fodder, they appear to have drawn some younger readers who are otherwise abandoning newspapers.
Newspapers also face increased competition from the Internet for classified ads, especially for jobs, which have long been a key source of revenue.
Newspapers in different countries
In Argentina, the broadsheet format is almost nonexistent. The only remaining national newspaper published in that format is La Nación.
In Germany, the distinction between serious and tabloid papers is usually made according to whether they are available on subscription. The more sensational tabloids such as Bild are commonly called Boulevardzeitungen (boulevard papers), because they are normally available at the newsstand only; by contrast, the more serious Abonnementzeitungen (subscription papers) sell a large amount of their circulation to subscribers.
National newspapers such as Die Welt are available, but local ones draw a much wider readership. Some local newspapers assume the role of national papers, such as the Frankfurter Allgemeine of Frankfurt/M. and the Süddeutsche Zeitung of Munich.
Hong Kong has a vibrant newspaper publishing industry. Most papers use the broadsheet size. Almost all newspapers focus on the local Hong Kong market, but some may also target at the markets in Macao and Pearl River Delta. Although they are broadsheets, the three papers with the largest circulation are all considered tabloid-style, with large and colourful photos and sensational coverage to attract readers. Most papers adopt a daily magazine approach, with all sort of coverages range from local and international news, entertainment, culture, lifestyle, economic and finance, sport and horseracing. Hong Kong Economic Journal, Hong Kong Economic Times and South China Morning Post have are stronger focus on economic and finance. Ta Kung Pao, Wen Wei Po and Oriental Daily are the mouthpieces of the communist government in Peking. There are also papers specifically published for horse-racing tips.
See also: Newspapers in Hong Kong
In Mexico, there are many publications, and none that can be considered a national newspaper. The most important ones, like La Jornada, Excelsior, and Reforma are in Mexico City, and because of a heavy national centralization, a lot of redistribution happens (newspapers from Mexico City are sold in almost every city in the country, some with a day or two lag.)
The only attempts to create a national national newspaper originate in Monterrey:
One of them is Milenio , a midi format newspaper, which is distributed in Mexico City, Monterrey, Nuevo León, Veracruz, Veracruz, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Tampico, Tamaulipas, and the state of Tabasco.
The other attempt to make a national newspaper has been done by Reforma news group, which also originated in Monterrey but that now is run from Mexico City. Reforma publishes different newspapers with the same main content, but with specific local content in the major cities of the country: El Norte in Monterrey, Reforma in Mexico City, Mural in Guadalajara and Palabra in Saltillo. All of the newspapers by Reforma are published in the broadsheet format.
Reforma is one of the most prestigious, and often considered among the most reliable, news sources in Mexico, in spite of its youth (it appeared in Mexico City in 1993). It has gained its prestige with its attractive editorial design, wide-spectrum editorialists and denouncements of government corruption.
Until very recently, newsprint in Mexico was a product made only by the government-owned monopoly. Importing the product from other countries (such as the United States) was illegal. This allowed the Mexican government, for many years, to put out of circulation any dissident newspaper. Reforma survived the boycott and fought heavily until the government allowed for importing the product in the 1990s.
Since then, the Mexican Press has been undergoing a process towards more freedom of speech, especially after the election of President Vicente Fox in the year 2000.
In the United Kingdom, newspapers can be classified by distribution as local or national and by page size as tabloids and broadsheets. The principal newspapers of England and Wales are all nationals edited in London. Scotland is a separate market with its own newspapers.
There is often an implication that tabloids cater for more vulgar tastes than broadsheets. Within the tabloid category the most down market titles are classed as red-tops because of the design of their front pages. This term is often used deprecatingly by newspapers that consider themselves more serious. There are also "middle-market" tabloids such as The Daily Mail.
This distinction began to be blurred in October 2003 as two broadsheet newspapers — The Independent and The Times — began to trial tabloid editions in some parts of the U.K. The Independent switched entirely to producing what it prefers to call a compact edition from May 2004 and The Times changed to this format at the beginning of November 2004, despite initial opposition to from its more traditional and conservative readership. The Guardian is expected to switch to the unusual (for the U.K.) "Berliner" format, slightly larger than a traditional tabloid, sometime in 2006.
There are daily paid papers in most of the larger cities, and weekly paid papers in some other areas. These focus on local news and do not attempt to be a direct substitute for the London based national newspapers. Most areas also typically have one or more free local papers, with extensive classified advertising.
The vast majority of American newspapers are traditionally printed as broadsheets. A small number of daily papers are printed in the tabloid format.
U.S. dailies commonly separate the physical newspaper into sections on particular topics. Most major American cities' papers will have sections covering at least a few of the following topics:
- National and international news, usually the first section. In the most prestigious newspapers like the New York Times, the majority of articles in this section are dispatched by the paper's own journalists from bureaus around the world. Smaller papers usually fill almost all of this section with stories taken from newswires like the Associated Press or Reuters.
- Local and regional news, usually the second section. This is often called the metro (from metropolitan) section. Many large newspapers use "zoning," with different zones, receiving somewhat different articles, or the same articles arranged differently. Zoning is most predominant in the local section, but also plays a role in the front page.
- Classified ads
- Features: This may include Arts, Home furnishing, Fashion, Style, or some combination. This section usually also includes general advice columns and amusements, such as comic strips, horoscopes and puzzles.
- A weekly general-interest magazine-type feature, usually appearing on Sunday, such as Parade, USA Weekend, or their own magazine (for larger papers) such as The New York Times Magazine or the Washington Post Magazine.
- Weekend or Entertainment. This section includes many ads for upcoming entertainment events which usually occur on the weekend; this section usually appears on a Friday, or the last newspaper printed before the weekend.
- Comics. Typically only a separate section on Sundays; daily papers will include a page or more of comics in another section.
- Opinion or Editorial. Includes both editorials by the newspaper's editorial staff and letters to the editor from readers. Typically only a separate section on Sundays; daily papers will include these materials in the back of the national, regional, metro, or local news sections. Sometimes may include commentaries or "op-ed pieces" from nationally renowned writers.