News Gathering

News was gathered in many ways for the early newspapers. Information and business correspondence arrived by ship for officials, businesses and individuals and news of wars and other relevant 'intelligence' was extracted. International news was copied from continental papers, Gazettes from Paris, Amsterdam, Harlem, Antwerp, Rotterdam and Leyden, Lettres à la main from Paris and The Hague and a range of printed and manuscript gazettes from London. Hand-written news sheets circulated until the early decades of the 18th century. Taking copy from other papers was accepted practice and to quote from a London or Paris title was to lend authenticity to the report.

Dublin Printers

Newspapers were produced by several Dublin printers but some were short-lived 2. Those involved in newspaper production in the turbulent years of the late 17th and early 18th centuries were Joseph Ray, Cornelius Carter, Francis Dickson, John Harding, Edwin Sandys and Richard Pue. Cornelius Carter printed eleven or twelve newspapers and numerous news sheets and expresses in the first decades of the century, operating from the Post Office coffee house in Fishamble Street from 1699 3. He was one of seven persons arrested in 1708 for printing and selling 'Popish prayer-books' 4. Carter and John Harding were forced to go into hiding in 1719, fearing arrest having printed news of the Pretender. Harding paid dearly for printing many of Jonathan Swift's political protests, suffering arrest and confinement. In 1724, he printed the first five of Swift's Drapier's letters, published anonymously. A proclamation offered £300 for the discovery of the author and Harding was threatened with prosecution and jail. Gilbert states that he died in jail in 1725 but this has not been proved 5. The Dublin Journal, established by George Faulkner in 1725, was one of the most prominent Dublin newspapers of the 18th century, lasting until 1825.


Newspapers cost 1/2d to 1d and were sold by annual or quarterly subscription to readers in Dublin and the country. News hawkers also sold them on Dublin streets. In the early years they were brought out twice a week to coincide with post to the country. If important news came in between issues, a supplementary sheet, or Express, was rushed out.

Titles and Content

The titles of the early newspapers were descriptive, such as the Dublin News Letter, Dublin Gazette and Dublin Intelligence, or based on their method of distribution and names such as the Post-Boy, Post Man and Flying Post, proliferated. Distribution to the country was done by the Post Office and subscribers paid dues to the clerks of the four roads: north, south, east and west, at the G.P.O. Because of the cost of carriage, newspapers were most expensive for country subscribers.

Notices of births, marriages and deaths were very scarce in the early newspapers, only prominent citizens and members of the nobility and gentry were likely to be listed; but occasionally unusual circumstances ensured a mention in these columns. It was not until the 1720s that advertising became a regular feature of Dublin newspapers. Businesses began to see the value of advertising as circulation increased and newspapers were distributed around the country. Advertising greatly increased during the 18th century and the revenue produced allowed many newspapers to become long-lasting enterprises.

© Dublin City Public Libraries

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