18th Century

During the 18th century, papers were issued two or three times a week. The first daily newspaper, the Dublin Daily Advertiser, was made possible through advertising revenue. Published by James Hamilton, it stayed in business for just two years, from 1736 to 1738. As they were produced by printers and booksellers, book and stationery advertising was prominent in the early papers, as well as other services offered by their proprietors such as auctions or money-lending. Property for sale or rent dominated the advertising columns during the 18th century. Government notices proved very profitable, so much so that, by the last quarter of the century, the withdrawal of government advertising from papers whose loyalty was in question, was enough to ruin an enterprise. Of ten newspapers in business in Dublin in 1780, only two neutral papers and four, whose loyalty to government was unimpeachable, remained by 1798

The news content of newspapers, however, was what sustained them, the 'freshest intelligence' relayed to readers was of primary concern. Major wars punctuated the 18th century: the War of the Austrian Succession, the Seven Years War, the American War of Independence, the French Revolution and revolutionary wars. Then, as now, wars affected trade and lives, and potentially touched everyone and graphic details of battles and sieges were reproduced for avid readers. Illiteracy was no barrier as newspapers were read aloud in taverns or outside churches.

From their first appearance in manuscript form, news sheets became a valuable means of disseminating information. Both officialdom and the world of commerce came to depend on the regular supply of news from home and abroad. Advertisements were reaching a large audience, creating a demand for luxury goods such as books, patent medicines, fine clothing and millinery, and events such as theatrical performances, horse races, balls and masquerades. Many newspapers displayed a political orientation; the supply and control of information could be manipulated for political purposes. By the end of the 18th century radical political views were aired in the press, provoking fear in government circles and leading to the suppression of the opposition press.

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