Special-Interest Newspapers: A Source of Inspiration for General-Interest Newspapers?

Jan Lamers

In almost all surveys of newspapers, a distinction is not drawn between the different categories that exist for newspapers. Newspapers are newspapers, or so it is thought.

Yet newspapers have evolved. From originally functioning as journals of commerce for the new merchant classes of the 17th century, these early newspapers featured content such as announcements of ship arrivals and departures, cargo manifests and the prices of goods, as well as a sprinkling of news items from foreign ports.

The popular form of journalism covering crime, sex and human interest stories only began appearing in the early 19th century and were soon dubbed the penny press. This new content, combined with the early adoption of industrial age technologies, was the genesis of modern mass media. It was not until the introduction of linotype at the end of the 19th century that the newspaper business turned into a booming industry unrivaled by competition, until the introduction of radio in the 20th century.