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Definition: newspaper from Philip's Encyclopedia

Periodical publication, usually daily or weekly, conveying news and comment on current events. Handwritten news-sheets were posted in public places in ancient Rome under such titles as Acta Diurna (Daily Events). In Europe, the invention and spread of printing in the 15th century facilitated the growth of newspapers. The earliest examples were printed in German cities, soon followed by Venice, the Low Countries and other states in the 16th century. The first daily newspaper in England was the Daily Courant (1702).


Summary Article: Newspaper
from The SAGE Glossary of the Social and Behavioral Sciences

A paper-and-print product published at frequent regular intervals, usually every day or every week, with the purpose of conveying the news of the day to readers, for profit. Most are sold to the reader singly or by subscription. Advertisers provide the bulk of the revenue to the publisher. Newspapers traditionally consist of sheets of newsprint folded together, in either tabloid or broadsheet format. Broadsheet papers have tended to be more “serious” and are aimed at a wealthier, better-educated audience, while tabloids excel at shorter, sensational coverage aimed at a mass market. This is changing, with some higher-end newspapers adopting the smaller, more reader-friendly tabloid format but keeping their high-end content characteristics.

Newspapers have a long history. The first newspaper in North America was printed in Boston in 1690 by Benjamin Harris, titled Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick, but was closed by the Massachusetts authorities after just one issue. As censorship concerns eased, the Boston Newsletter, in 1702, had more success and was followed more famously, in 1721, by James Franklin's New England Courant. During the 18th century, many newspapers flourished, often produced by printers and postmasters as sidelines to their regular trades. Stories were often copied from one paper to another, and extreme editorial bias was the norm.

The penny press emerged in the 1830s with a business model based on cheap, mass-circulation, mass-appeal papers. The previously dominant model had been high-priced, market-niche newspapers, with low circulation focused on wealthy readers defined mainly by occu pation or politics.

Yellow journalism described the newspaper styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries when competition for mass audiences pitted newspaper publishers, including Hearst and Pulitzer, against one another. Tactics included enticing popular reporters and cartoonists to rival publications and using sensational, exaggerated headlines and stories to attract readers. The word yellow in the term yellow journalism referred to a popular cartoon series about a remarkably ugly child, “the yellow kid.”

The number of newspaper titles in the United States peaked around 1915, with subsequent consolidation in the industry leading to fewer titles.

Newspapers have historically ensured their continued existence and profitability by adopting innovative technology and business practices. Such radical changes have not always been popular: Computerization during the 1980s dictated the end of typesetting and other printing-related occupations, with bitter union management fights.

Newspapers compete with other news providers, including radio, television, and, most seriously and recently, the Internet. Newspaper sales are declining, particularly among younger readers. Classified small advertisements have migrated to the Internet. Competition for readers from non-newspaper-affiliated, indepen dent newsblogs is growing. Ironically, newsblogs have been accused of being parasites, gathering stories from the work of reporters employed by other media rather than generating their own.

Most U.S. newspapers now release their content on their Internet sites, in addition to publishing in the print format. Some papers experimented with requiring readers to pay for online access, but this business model has changed in most cases to free access for readers, with revenue coming from onscreen advertising. In response to competition from blogs, newspapers are adding reader response and discussion areas to their Internet sites. For more information, see Alterman (2008), Barlow (2007), Schudson (1978), and Stephens (2007) in the bibliography.

See also

Objectiveness in Media Coverage, Print Media

Copyright © 2009 by SAGE Publications, Inc.

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