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Happy birthday to us
The Press is 130 years old today. STEPHEN LEWIS reports.
ON October 2, 1882, the first ever edition of a new newspaper hit the streets of York and Durham.
It was called The Evening Press. And it promised to “supply York, Durham and the adjoining counties with a first-class newspaper in every respect …”
The very first item on the very first page of the new newspaper was hardly stuff to set the world alight. Under the heading “Miscellaneous Sales” it read: “Steam ploughing tackle, ‘in excellent condition’, FOR SALE cheap, through failing health of owner.”
But then, those were the days in which the front pages of newspapers were devoted entirely to advertising.
News was strictly for the inside pages. The Evening Press was very much going to be a newspaper, however. It had been founded by one William Wallace Hargrove, and it set out its stall very clearly in that first edition.
“The ‘Evening Press’ will endeavour to give its readers the latest possible intelligence upon all subjects of interest. It will have regular correspondents in every important town in the counties through which it will circulate, and its district news will therefore be a special and interesting feature… “We shall pay very special attention to all sporting events, and our commercial news will enable business men to watch the progress of the markets and the fluctuations of trade... Our aim is to present an epitome of everything which may occur during the day.”
That was 130 years ago. The world has changed out of all recognition since then. Two world wars have come and gone; man has conquered the skies and set foot upon the Moon; the internet and satellite technology have revolutionised the way we communicate with each other; and the world’s population has reached 7 billion and counting.
What is striking about The Press of today compared with that very first edition, however, is not so much the differences, as what has remained the same.
Yes, we no longer carry only advertising on the front page. We’re a tabloid newspaper now, we use a lot more photographs, and we no longer circulate in Durham. Then there is the internet – as many people now read The Press online as they do in print.
But that central statement of the newspaper’s aims – to give readers “the latest possible intelligence upon all subjects of interest” and to “present an epitome of everything which may occur during the day” – could almost have been written today.
Here’s to the next 130 years…