Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Daily



As we face the possibility of the traditional newspaper disappearing within the next decade, maybe it's time to introduce the Acta Diurna to you (the Daily News or Daily Action). This was the Roman State's first official newspaper and was started by the king of spin doctors himself - Julius Caesar. It had a much better print run than most modern papers - surviving for some 500-years. In doing so it became the very first model for the  mass production of printed news - creating the news appetite we still feed today. And just to show nothing's new, this paper read just like today too - headlined with scandals and crime, plus sports results and the standard births, deaths, marriages and divorces. Initially it was handwritten onto white washed walls in the Roman Forum, but was soon converted to wooden tablets (in those day post cards and notebooks were written on cardboard-like wooden wafers). Paper copies were sold throughout Rome, and it is not beyond the realms of possibility the Action was block printed rather than hand copied...after all, hand copying a paper for a city of a million people - many of whom could read - seems a little beyond economic reality. Stepping out on a limb here, I'm pretty sure sooner or later someone must have noticed the local fuller's press was cheaper to use than a couple thousand 'handcopy' scribes...but maybe I'm reading too much into it. For more on the Daily Action you can read 'A Body of Doubt' - available from Amazon, just follow the links