The Soldier Weekly-News (ID, 1893)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication:  Soldier, Idaho

Frequency:  Weekly (monthly?)

Volume and Issue Data:  Two issues extant:  Vol. 1, No. 1, Jan. 13, 1893, and No. 2? Feb 10, 1893

Size and Format:  8 x 13 inches; one column; two pages

Editor/Publisher:  Soldier Literary Society

Title Changes and Continuation:  None

General Description and Notes:

The paper’s motto, written just below the title, on both extant copies is “Hew to the line, let chips fall where they may.”  The first issue states that “in obedience to the gracious request of the Soldier Literary Society, we assume the publication of a paper in promoting the interests of that Society, and will present our first number this evening, under the title of the ‘Soldier Weekly News.'”

“We make our editorial bow on the sea of journalism, with some misgivings as to our untried ability to please all, but with the aid of the members of this Society and an earnest effort on our part, we hope to issue weekly, a journal which may interest and amuse each and every member of this Society.

“In politics the news will be strictly independent.

“Contributions, other than objectional or personally abusive articles, solicited from members of the Society.  Any article calculated to injure the feelings of any member of our Society or any citizen of our place will not be accepted.  As many of the ‘home staff’ possess decided talent in the journalistic line, we may expect newsy and interesting contributions.  Having secured a corps of able correspondents we promise our readers the cream of legislative news from Boise, as well as events of interest in all (remainder of line illegible)” (from page one, first issue, Jan. 13, 1893).

The extant copies contain “Local News” shorts, “Notes from neighboring places,” appeals for advertisements and an obituary.

The “Notes from neighboring places” section of the Feb. 10 issue begins, “Telegrams from up the Creek.”

The Feb. 10 issue notes, “We are pleased to record that the circulation of the ‘Soldier Weekly-News‘ is rapidly increasing and advertisements coming in liberally.  It affords us much pleasure to see our paper thus appreciated.  We entertain the ambition ere the close of 1893 of securing the largest circulation of any paper in Idaho.

“We are not giving to our readers a larger amount of news, local and foreign than any paper in Idaho (sic) the state.”

Information Sources:                                                                  

Bibliography:  None

Locations: Idaho State Historical Society, Boise, ID

The Sitka Times (AK, 1868)

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Publication History

Place of Publication:  Sitka, Alaska Territory

Frequency:  Weekly (irregular)

Volume and Issue Data: Sept. 19, 1868, 1:1; Oct. 19, 1868, 1:6; Oct. 31, 1868, 1:7; Nov. 7, 1868, 1:8

Size and Format:  8 x 12 in.; two cols.; four pages; cursive pen and ink.

Editor/Publisher:  Thomas G. Murphy, aka “Barney O. Ragan” or “Regan”

Title Changes and Continuations:  The Sitka Times (Sept. 19, 1868-Nov. 7, 1868) continued as Alaska Times (printed), 1869-1870.

General Description and Notes:

Editor Murphy (“Regan”) claimed The Sitka Times was “the first paper published in Alaska.”  The “introductory” column on page two outlines the editor’s intention to publish local news and to promote the general economic development of the region:

“To day we present the Sitka Times to the citizens of  Sitka and the world at large.  It is the first attempt ever made to publish a paper in this vast land of Alaska.  The Times will be devoted to local and general news.  We shall, when we deem it practicable, discuss all question of public interest, touching the affairs about Alaska.  In Politics and Religion the Times will be neutral.  The Pacific Rail Road we are in favor of and would love to hear the scream of its whistle echoed from the peaks of Alaska, and the musical strain of humanity shouting a chorus of  ‘Let the iron horse speed along with its precious burden of emigration.’  We are strongly in favor of a civil government and strictly opposed to military rule.  Give Alaska a civil government, you may soon expect to hear of rich minerals having been fully developed by our latent industry, but not before.

“Having no ‘devil’ in our office the ‘Times‘ should be virtuous.

“As our local items will be few we shall spare no pains in giving a well defined description of all fights; recording in language of flowers the matrimonial pursuits of mankind; with the respectful details of those, whose souls have fled to the ‘spirit land'” (1:1, p. 2, cols. 1  and 2a).

The editor explained and defended the handwritten format of his paper in the first “Editorial:”

“The appearance of the ‘Times‘ being written instead of printed will perhaps cause many a laugh.  In olden times a laugh would be out of place, as written pamphlets and the town crier were the means alone employed of conveying news, as no [?] parties at that time had been established by the fair.

“To invest in the purchase of a press would incur great expense and until we see better inducements than are now offered, a press can be dispensed with, although the copying of even so small a sheet, as this is, requires much labor and some means.

“Our budget in producing such a paper is not with the view of making a fortune, but chiefly if possible to gratify the citizens of our Town and for this we shall do our best” (1:1, p. 2, col. 2)

The paper’s script is relatively large and the cursive hand is quite legible.  The front page of the first number includes a large, bold name and masthead and the rest is advertisements for Sitka businesses.  Page two is the editor’s introductory comments and the editorial.  Page three covers seven local news stories including ship arrivals and departures.  The fourth and last page is even divided between local news and advertisements.

According to Hinckley, Murphy was known by contemporaries as a “politician, lawyer, priest, editor, printer, author and poet.”  He organized early efforts to establish a civil government for the territory and was elected by a small but apparently unrepresentative group to head the new government.  Within three days a second vote removed Murphy from office.  He later became the city attorney.

Murphy eventually imported a printing press, but had insufficient money to print his newspaper.  The Sitka mayor invested the necessary funds and, on April 23, 1869, Murphy edited the first printed issue of the (retitled) Alaska Times.

Information Sources

Bibliography:  Ted C. Hinckley, The Americanization of Alaska, 1867-1897 (Palo Alto, Calif.:  Pacific Books, Publishers, 1972), 39-46; Nichols, “History of Alaska Under Rule of  the United States,” (1924), 426; James Wickersham, A Bibliography of Alaska Literature, 1724-1924 (Cordova, Ak.:  Cordova Daily Times Print, 1927), 253-254.

Locations:  Cu-B; DLC (photocopy, 1:1 only); Territorial Library-Juneau.

The Musalman (IND, 1927-present)

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The Musalman (IND, 1927-present)

Publication History:

Place of Publication: Chennai, India

Frequency:  Daily

Volume and Issue Data:  Published since 1927, circulation approx. 21,000

Size and Format:  Broadsheet folded to make four pages; Urdu language publication; handwritten, then printed

Editor/Publisher:  Editor-in-Chief Syed Arifullah (youngest son of former editor Syed Fazlulla)

Title Changes and Continuation: None

General Description and Notes:

According to Wired Magazine, “the fax machine on 76-year-old Editor-in-Chief Syed Fazlulla’s [died April 26, 2008] crowded desk is by far the most sophisticated technology in the room.”

“Fazlulla, who is deep into creating the next issue of the handcrafted The Musalman daily newspaper, frowns as he deciphers the handwriting and searches for a cover story. After some consideration, he passes the page to his brother who translates it into Urdu. He in turn sends the text to the back room where writers take calligraphy quills in hand and begin.

“Here in the shadow of the Wallajah Mosque, a team of six puts out this hand-penned paper. Four of them are katibs — writers dedicated to the ancient art of Urdu calligraphy. It takes three hours using a pen, ink and ruler to transform a sheet of paper into news and art.”

According to Iran Radio Islam, the paper, whose name means “The Muslim,”

is a broadsheet folded to make four pages. The front page has local and national news. Page two has international news and editorials. Page three contains Hadith, quotes from the Qur’an and (incongruously) sports. The last page has “everything”, says Arifullah, with a focus on local news. There are ads from local businesses, “exhibitions, circus, new products”, and even Aligarh Muslim University.

News comes in from part-time reporters in different cities, once by fax, now also email. “We are not able to afford” full-time Urdu reporters, the editor says, so the material often comes in English. Three translators turn it into Urdu. The katibs then write the copy out on paper with quills and ink, three hours per page, and paste all the items on a form. If a mistake is made or a news update arrives, the page is rewritten. The form is turned into a negative, which is used to make the plate for printing.

The Wired magazine reporter observed that the paper’s

“. . . office is a center for the South Indian Muslim community and hosts a stream of renowned poets, religious leaders and royalty who contribute to the pages, or just hang out, drink chai and recite their most recent works to the staff. The Musalman publishes Urdu poetry and messages on devotion to God and communal harmony daily.

The newspaper’s content is not exactly hard-hitting. It covers the basics of local politics and the writers translate stories from English papers into Urdu. Still, the paper is widely read and appreciated by Muslims in Tripplicane and Chennai where the paper has a circulation of 20,000.

While the Musalman is a Muslim newspaper, it is a hub of South Asian liberalism, employing both women and non-Muslims. Half the katibs are women and the chief reporter is Hindu. Staff members say that Indira Gandhi, former prime minister of India, once called the business the epitome of what modern India should be.

The Urdu language is, according to Wired, “similar to spoken Hindi, Urdu is a mixture of Arabic, Persian and local Indian languages. It originated in the army camps of Muslim rulers in Delhi and has been the language of poets and artists because its rich roots draw on so many traditions across various cultures.”

But when British colonizers swept across India importing printing presses and English, Urdu ceased to be the official court language. It was spoken primarily by the Muslim community, but katibs could still make a living because no Urdu typeface existed.

That changed in 1997 with the first widely circulated Urdu computer font. Nowadays, people learn to read and write Urdu mostly as a hobby.

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  Scott Carney, “A Handwritten Daily Paper in India Faces the Digital Future,” Wired (magazine), July 6, 2007; Iran Radio Islam, “The Musalman: The Last Hand Printed Newspaper in India,” IRIB World Service-English, May 26, 2011.

Locations:  Unknown (Chennai, India)

Ishinomaki Hibi Shimbun (JPN, 2011)

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Ishinomaki Hibi Shimibun (JPN, 2011)

Publication History:

Place of Publication:  Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan

Frequency:   Six days while the newspaper could not be printed after massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power disasters affected the region

Volume and Issue Data:  March 12-17, 2011

Size and Format:  Poster-sized paper

Editor/Publisher:  Hiroyuki Takeuchi, chief reporter, and the Hibi Shimbun staff

Title Changes and Continuation:  None

General Description & Notes:

In the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, the Ishinomaki Hibi Shimbun newspaper was published for six days in handwritten form. According to the Washington Post,

Unable to operate its 20th-century printing press — never mind its computers, Web site or 3G mobile phones — the town’s only newspaper, the Ishinomaki Hibi Shimbun, wrote its articles by hand with black felt-tip pens on big sheets of white paper. 

But unlike modern media, the method worked.

“People who suffer a tragedy like this need food, water and, also, information,” said Hiroyuki Takeuchi, chief reporter at the Hibi Shimbun, an afternoon daily. “People used to get their news from television and the Internet. But when there is no light and no electricity, the only thing they have is our newspaper.”

While recent political ferment across the Arab world has trumpeted the power of new media, the misery in Japan, one of the world’s most wired nations, has rolled back the clock. For a few days at least, the printed and handwritten word were in the ascendant.

 After writing and editing articles, Takeuchi and others on staff copied their work onto sheets by hand for distribution to emergency relief centers housing survivors of Japan’s worst-ever earthquake and deadly tsunami that followed.

“They were desperate for information,” said Takeuchi, who has slept in the office for the 10 days since the tsunami flooded the ground floor of his house.

With electricity now restored to about a third of the northeast town’s 160,000 residents, Takeuchi’s newspaper has put away its pens and started printing. Internet access is still not available. Monday’s printed front page cheered a “miraculous rescue drama” — the story of an 80-year-old woman and her 16-year-old grandson plucked from their ruined Ishinomaki home Sunday.

Down the coast in Sendai, a once-thriving city of more than 1 million, the digital juggernaut has also come to a halt. “In conditions like these, nothing has power like paper,” said Masahiko Ichiriki, president and owner of Kahoku Shimpo, the city’s main newspaper. With most shops shut, people can’t buy batteries to power radios.

The Newseum (a museum dedicated free press and news reporting, which closed in 2019) purchased copies of the handwritten papers, which are now on display at the Washington, D.C. museum. According to the Newseum website (now also closed):

“The Newseum became aware of the Hibi Shimbun‘s heroic efforts from a March 21, 2011, story on the earthquake in The Washington Post. That morning, Brian Nishimura Lee, the Newseum’s senior administrator for database and financial systems, emailed editors at the Hibi Shimbun and requested copies of the handwritten editions for the museum’s collection.”

The Newseum website (closed) provided additional details that did not appear in the original Washington Post story:

“Ishinomaki, with a population of about 160,000 people, was one of the hardest hit in Japan. Approximately 80 percent of the homes were destroyed. About 1,300 people have died, and more than 2,700 are still missing.

“The first handwritten newspaper on March 12 was an “Extra” edition that informed residents that the earthquake was “the biggest in the history of Japan.” The next day’s edition told about “rescue teams arriving in some areas.” On March 16, the paper said, “Let’s overcome the hardship with mutual support.” By March 17, the paper wrote about the lights coming back on.

“The first printed edition of the newspaper since the power outage was published on March 18. Editions have been distributed free to refugee sites each day.”

Information Sources:

Bibliography: Andrew Higgins, “In Ishinomaki, news comes old-fashioned way: Via paper,” Washington Post (web edition), March 21, 2011

Links: Newseum video of Japanese handwritten newspapers (no longer active on the closed Newseum site, but still available through the Freedom Forum on YouTube)

Locations:  Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC

The Gold Coast Gazette & Commercial Intelligencer (GHA, 1822-1825)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication:  Ghana, West Africa

Frequency: Unknown

Volume and Issue Data: April 21, 1822-1825

Size and Format: “handwritten;” semi-official organ of the colonial government

Editor/Publisher: Sir Charles MacCarthy, governor of the British Gold Coast settlements

Title Changes and Continuation: Unknown

General Description and Notes:

According to Jennifer Hasty’s history of the press in Ghana,

The first newspaper, The Gold Coast Gazette and Commercial Intelligencer, was published from 1822-25 by Sir Charles MacCarthy, governor of the British Gold Coast settlements. As a semi-official organ of the colonial government, the central goal of this Cape Coast newspaper was to provide information to European merchants and civil servants in the colony. Recognizing the growing number of mission-educated Africans in the Gold Coast, the paper also aimed at promoting literacy, encouraging rural development, and quelling the political aspirations of this class of native elites by securing their loyalty and conformity with the colonial system.

The appropriation of print media by local African elites began in mid-century with the publication of The Accra Herald by Charles Bannerman, son of a British lieutenant governor and a princess from the Asante royal family. Handwritten like MacCarthy’s former colonial paper, The Accra Herald was circulated to some 300 subscribers, two-thirds of them African. Enduring for 16 years, the success of Bannerman’s paper stimulated a proliferation of African-owned newspapers in the late nineteenth century . . . (emphasis added)

Governor MacCarthy was later killed in the First Ashanti war. His death and the claim that the victorious natives used his skull as a drinking cup did nothing to improve relations between the British and the coastal tribes. At least two other Ashanti Wars were fought in the 19th century.

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  John D. Chick, “The Asanti Times: A Footnote in Ghanaian Press History,” African Affairs, 76:302 (1977), p. 80 (fn.3); “The Story of Africa: African History from the Dawn of Time,” BBC World Service, accessed August 18, 2011; Jennifer Hasty, “Ghana,” World Press Encyclopedia (2003);  JenniferHasty,  Big Language and Brown Envelopes: The Press and Political Culture in Ghana,  Ph.D. Dissertation, Duke University, 1999

Locations:  Unknown

Daily Marine Bulletin (HI, 1870-1882)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication:  Honolulu, Hawai’i

Frequency:  Title says “daily” but actual frequency unknown; first printed editions were daily except Sundays

Volume and Issue Data:  Vol.  1, No. 1,  1870-1882 (year of first printed edition)

Size and Format:  Unknown

Editor/Publisher:  Henry M. Whitney, J. W. Robertson

Title Changes and Continuation: The Daily Bulletin (1882-1895), Evening Bulletin  (1895-1912)

General Description and Notes:

According the University of Hawai’i,  the Daily Marine Bulletin edited by Henry M. Whitney began in 1870.  He started the paper after he was forced to sell the Pacific Commercial Advertiser–the forerunner of the Honolulu Advertiser–amid criticism for his condemnation of the government’s role in importing labor from Asia. Soon after the sale, Whitney began posting this hand-written, single-sheet daily news sheet, the Daily Marine Bulletin, from his stationary and book business.

According to the university, the Daily Marine Bulletin included news and information on ship arrivals and mail dispatches but was reviled by the Advertiser’s  editors as a gossip sheet“The title of ‘Marine’ Bulletin appears to us a misnomer, seeing that gossip and criticism is [sic] freely and rather recklessly indulged in, as to matters that are not the least marine in their nature.” The two papers apparently maintained a long rivalry.

The university also notes that “in 1878, James W. Robertson bought Whitney’s firm and continued publishing Whitney’s daily under various titles including the Daily Commercial Bulletin and J.W. Robertson’s Daily Bulletin. Although the lack of any holdings for this period make it difficult to find accurate information about the paper’s form and content, the first printed edition of the Daily Bulletin, launched on February 1, 1882, suggests that the new paper was a continuation of the hand-written sheet Robertson had taken over from Whitney five years earlier: ‘With this issue commences a new edition of our mornings [sic] Bulletin. After this it will appear in printed form, and will be delivered every morning free […] and if it is received as well as our written ones were, we will be satisfied.’”

Information Sources:

Bibliography: None

Locations:  University of Hawai’i at Manoa Library, Honolulu, HI (printed editions only)

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