11 March 1702 – the world’s first daily newspaper published

On this day in 1702 Elizabeth Mallet of Fleet Street published the first edition of the Daily Courant, the world’s first daily newspaper.

Daily Courant

Newspapers today are having a bit of a crisis. The internet is changing the way people get their news, leaving a dwindling audience willing to pay for their daily paper. But it's probably about time the industry had a shakeup. The daily rag has had a good run – over 300 years, in fact.

Before 1695, the press was severely restricted by the Licensing of the Press Act 1662, which was passed to prevent the "frequent Abuses in printing seditious treasonable and unlicensed Bookes and Pamphlets and for regulating of Printing and Printing Presses." It also enshrined the position of the Stationers' Company in law, meaning nobody was allowed to print without their say so. And so a lot of early pamphlets and “corantos” – digests of foreign news – were printed in Amsterdam. The only real official paper was the London Gazette.

But the Act lapsed in 1695, the monopoly was broken and the press was free (ish) to print what it liked. Even so, it took a while for papers to take off. And it wasn't until this day in 1702 that Elizabeth Mallet published the first edition of The Daily Courant, the world's first daily newspaper.

The Courant was a single sheet with two columns, and adverts on the back. It carried digests of news from foreign papers, and Mallet herself (writing as a him) claimed only to provide the facts, and to let the reader make up their own minds, saying: "Nor will [the Author] take it upon himself to give any Comments or Conjectures of his own, but will relate only Matter of Fact; supposing other People to have Sense enough to make Reflections for themselves." If only that standard were maintained today.

Fittingly for the first newspaper, Mallet's premises were situated "Next door to the King's Arms Tavern by the Ditch-side near Fleet Bridge". Fleet Street had been a centre of the printing industry since William Caxton's contemporary Wynkyn de Worde set up business there in 1500.

Recommended

Early repayment charges: should you abandon your fixed-rate mortgage for a new deal now?
Mortgages

Early repayment charges: should you abandon your fixed-rate mortgage for a new deal now?

Increasing numbers of homeowners are paying an early repayment charge to leave their fixed-rate mortgage deal early, and lock in a new deal now. Shoul…
30 Sep 2022
Energy meter reading day: why you need submit your gas and electricity readings now
Personal finance

Energy meter reading day: why you need submit your gas and electricity readings now

Energy meter reading day - you need to submit your gas and electricity readings as soon as possible ahead of the October energy price increase
30 Sep 2022
Should you fix your mortgage? Here are the best rates available now
Mortgages

Should you fix your mortgage? Here are the best rates available now

Rising interest rates look set to spring a nasty surprise on millions of homeowners next year. You need to take steps today to protect yourself from a…
30 Sep 2022
Why the Bank of England intervened in the bond market
Government bonds

Why the Bank of England intervened in the bond market

A sudden crisis for pension funds exposed to rapidly rising bond yields meant the Bank of England had to act. Cris Sholto Heaton looks at the lessons …
30 Sep 2022

Most Popular

Why everyone is over-reacting to the mini-Budget
Budget

Why everyone is over-reacting to the mini-Budget

Most analyses of the chancellor’s mini-Budget speech have failed to grasp its purpose and significance, says Max King
29 Sep 2022
How the end of cheap money could spark a house price crash
House prices

How the end of cheap money could spark a house price crash

Rock bottom interest rates drove property prices to unaffordable levels. But with rates set to climb and cheap money off the table, we could see house…
28 Sep 2022
Why UK firms should start buying French companies
UK stockmarkets

Why UK firms should start buying French companies

The French are on a buying spree, snapping up British companies. We should turn the tables, says Matthew Lynn, and start buying French companies. Here…
28 Sep 2022