“It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper.” JERRY SEINFELD
By Alex P. Vidal
Despite the advent of internet, people continue to read the newspapers. Even after watching the news on TV, readers still refuse to abandon the habit of spending a little time to read the printed news, especially opinions, every morning over a cup of coffee.
The newspaper in its modern form is usually regarded as beginning in 1566, when the government of Venice, Italy, issued written news-sheets and exhibited them in the streets, according to the Book of Knowledge.
The book said anyone was allowed to read them on payment of a small coin called a gazetta. On this account the news-sheets were called gazettes, and they became so popular that they were printed. Soon after the date mentioned, gazettes were issued in most of the big cities of Europe.
The first English newspaper, it was learned, was the Weekly News, published in London in 1622. But in this paper and its successors down to 1641 only foreign news was printed.
While newspapers in the modern sense are thus less than four centuries old, something corresponding to the newspaper was found in the ancient world, the book added.
Accounts of the doings of the imperial armies of Rome were sent to generals in command in all parts of the empire. These Acta Diura, or Daily Doings, as they were called, were communicated by the generals to their officers.
Farther back still, items of news, generally about kings or battles, were carved in stone in prominent places in Babylonian and Assyrian cities. These may almost be regarded as the origin of the newspaper as a record of events. Probably the oldest newspaper in this sense is the Siloam Inscription, discovered in 1880 in the rocky aqueduct of the Pool of Siloam at the southeast end of Jerusalem.
The characters are those of the early form of the alphabet used by the Phoenicians, Hebrews and Moabites. The language is Biblical Hebrew. The inscription is of the period of the Hebrew monarchy.
It dates back to at least 700 B.C., and is one of the oldest Hebrew inscriptions known.
It may be called the Jewish newspaper of Isaiah’s time, and perhaps even of Solomon’s time. Freely translated it read thus:
“Finished is the boring. And this was the manner of the boring. The hewers were plying the pickax, cash toward his fellow, and there were still three cubits to finish, when there was heard the voice of one calling to his fellow; for there was a crack in the rock on the right. And on the day of the boring the hewers struck each to meet his fellow, pickax to pickax, and the water ran from the source of the pool, two hundred and a thousand cubits. And a hundred cubits was the height of the rock above the heads of the hewers.”
It sounds very modern. Just such a paragraph might announce the completion of the cutting of a new tunnel through the Rockies, for instance.