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A newspaper is a lightweight and disposable periodical, usually printed on low-cost paper called newsprint, containing a journal of current news in a variety of topics. These topics can include political events, crime, sports, opinion, and weather.

Newspapers have also 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.

The general variety is issued every day, often with the exception of Sundays and some general 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, but in the United States and Canada, there are few truly national newspapers, with the exception of USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. Large metropolitan newspapers with expanded distribution networks such as the New York Times or Toronto's Globe and Mail often fill the national paper role.

The person or company who owns the newspaper is the publisher, and the person responsible for content is the editor or editor-in-chief.

Table of contents
1 History of newspapers
2 Newspaper formats
3 Circulation and readership
4 Newspaper business models
5 Newspaper journalism
6 Newspaper ownership
7 The future of newspapers
8 National variations
9 See also
10 External links

History of newspapers

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 713 A.D.

According to the World Association of Newspapers, the first titled English language private newspaper, The Corante, was first published in London in 1621. 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.

In 1690, Publick Occurrences in Boston became the first newspaper published in America. It was suppressed after one issue.

In 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.

Newspaper formats

A modern daily newspaper is generally printed on large sheets of paper, usually 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 prime importance in getting attention so that large sections of the newspaper will be seen and enjoyed by the readers.

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. 1995 data from the United Nations indicate that Japan is the country with most newspaper readership, which had 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. USA Today has daily circulation of approximately 2 million, making it the most widely read paper in the U.S.

Newspaper business models

Almost all newspapers make almost all their money from advertising. The income from the customer's payment at the newsstand is a pittance in comparison. This is why all newspapers are cheap and some are free: publishers of commercial newspapers always 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.

The portion of the newspaper that is not advertising is called editorial content.

Many paid-for newspapers offer a variety of subscription plans. For example, one 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, and in other cases extensive free archives are provided.

Newspaper journalism

Since newspapers began as a way to journal, or keep a record of, current events, the profession which is 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). On the other hand, it speaks well of the profession that these principles could just as easily have been abandoned long ago.

In the yellow journalism 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.

Ironically, recent criticism of American journalism appearing in the early 2000s includes that which says newspapers are too unbiased; that by presenting only bland fact, and being overly cautious never to never make inferences from patterns of past events, newspapers abandon the true story in exchange for an extremely shallow he said, she said sort of story. Recently, several alternative news sources, most notoriously on the Internet, have sprung up in order to offset this amnesiac method of reporting.

Newspaper ownership

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 and readers is often relegated to the editorial section, or op-ed section (for "opinion-editorial") 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, whereas the Wall Street Journal has a history of emphasizing the position of the right.

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 New York in June 2004, reported circulation increases in only 35 of 208 countries studied - most of that coming 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, Japan with 70 million and the United States with 55 million. It said circulation slumped by an average of 2.2% across 13 of the 15 countries that made up the European Union before May 1, the biggest declines were in Ireland, down 7.8%; Britain, down 4.7%; and Portugal, where reader numbers fell by 4.0%.

One growth area is the distribution of free newspapers, which are not reflected in the above circulation data. They grew by 16% in 2003.

Another growth area is high-quality tabloids, particularly in Great Britain. 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 abandoning newspapers.

Newspapers also face increased competition from the Internet for classified ads, which have long been a key source of revenue.

National variations

United States

U.S. dailies commonly separate the physical newspaper into sections, each containing content on a particular topic. Most major American cities' papers will have sections covering at least a few of the following topics:

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, newspapers can be classified by distribution as local or national and by page size as tabloids and broadsheets. There is often an implication that tabloids cater for more vulgar tastes than broadsheets. Within the tabloid category some 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. 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, whereas The Times is experiencing opposition to the change from its more traditional and conservative readership.

Most areas also typically have one or more free local papers, with extensive classified advertising.


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), since 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.

See also

External links