|59 Getting The News 1609
AMONG THE ITEMS appearing in Issue 47 of Relation, the first regularly printed newspaper in history, was this understated news flash: "Signor Gallileo [sic] . . . found a rule and visual measure, by which one can . . . look at places 30 miles away, as if they were close by." That year's papers would also include reports of a ne'er-do-well lieutenant general and two men prohibited from playing ninepins, demonstrating the mix of groundbreaking and trivial that still defines a newspaper. The weekly, four-page Relation, first published in Strassburg, Germany, in 1609, wasn't much to look at--no headlines, no ads, no catchy graphics. It attracted a readership consisting mostly of the wealthy, powerful and well educated. But by the mid-17th century, the first print daily was being published in Leipzig; and the "penny press," debuting in the U.S. in 1833, would later transport news to the general public. Then as now, the free press filled an important role: campaigning for reform, focusing public attention on political and social problems, and stirring up trouble when trouble was needed.
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