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The Oldest Newspaper In The World

Updated on January 27, 2011

The Oldest Paper On Earth

The oldest newspaper in the world is often claimed to be the Peking Gazette, published in the Chinese language at Peking (Beijing 北京), China. The Chinese Government always made it the vehicle for communicating its instructions and order to the people.

The Peking Gazette was an official publication by the Imperial Court, and its printed form had existed in the successive capitals of the Empire ever since the reign of the Sui or Tang dynasty in the first half of the eighth century due to the invention of the wood-cutting printing technology. There were several names for its precursor, Official Residence Gazette(邸报), Official Residence Copy (邸钞), Court Gazette (朝报) etc. It changed to Peking Gazette in the Qing dynasty after its Capital name.

We may even trace back original Imperial Gazette to the earliest publications in Han dynasty around the first century, It was handcopied News bulletin for communications between central Imperial court and Provincial govenment, and for exchanging news between local govenment. In August, 1882, the proprietors of Peking Gazette celebrated the 1,500th anniversary of its publication since Han dynasty.

The publication of Peking Gazette was interrupted by the arrival of the Western Allies at Tientsin, and ceased to publish in 1912, soon after the last Qing Dynasty fell and republican China was born.

The Wikipedia article says that "the Peking Gazette was not a newspaper, but a government bulletin, although it might be considered a distant precursor." Because "this gazette had limited circulation and that it just contained edicts and decrees – thus it does not fit the modern definition of newspaper. But it definitely was a forerunner of newsprint."

Below is a news clipping by Life Magazine from an unidentified newspaper published in 1898:

For many years the North China Herald at Shanghai have published a translation of the Peking Gazette. The English translation for 1899, which is only just out, contains much interesting matter.

On half of the contents consists of official appointments, promotions, and transfers, and the other of Imperial decrees couched in very flowery language. Many of the decrees were most obscure, and some of them intentionally misleading.

The increasing prominence with which the Manchu were brought to the front in official appointments during 1899 is strikingly shown. On almost every page there is a reference to the appointment of an "Imperial clansman," a Manchu or a member of Banners.

Here is an extract from a Mandatory edict on Prince Tuan and the Hu-Sheng Brigade of the Peking Field Force: --

"We can say that the officers of the Hu-Sheng Brigade, both high and low, have indeed distinguished themselves in their work of organisation and discipline, .. and we, therefore, gladly command that Prince Tuan be handed to the Imperial Clan Court for extraordinary rewards."

The Peking Gazette is by far the oldest established daily paper in the world. It was founded as a monthly over on thousand years ago. Seven hundred years ago it commenced weekly issues, and for more than five hundred years it has been published daily. During all this time all it contained has been the Imperial and official edicts and Court news.

Peking Gazette
Peking Gazette


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    • sam.azgor profile image

      Sam Azgor 5 years ago from Bangladesh

      great hub, thanx for the info :)

    • Elise-Loyacano profile image

      Elise-Loyacano 5 years ago from San Juan, Puerto Rico

      Nice article. I enjoyed learning something new.

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      rayah 6 years ago

      kindah cool.. it is also the fact that my History teacher told me.

    • asmaiftikhar profile image

      asmaiftikhar 6 years ago from Pakistan

      i m very happy to get this information. Really its amazing.keep it up.