We’ve covered events for 280 years, and will do far into the future too

Morning View
Morning View

The birthday that the Belfast News Letter celebrated yesterday, its 280th, is one that no English language daily newspaper has ever celebrated before, anywhere on earth.

There were daily newspapers prior to the News Letter, which was founded in 1737, but none of them got anywhere near to their third century.

The Daily Courant, for example, a forerunner of the great Fleet Street titles that was founded in London in 1702, had folded before the News Letter even began publishing.

There are weekly English language newspapers that are older than the News Letter, but only a handful.

The fact that no other dailies have reached 280 is an extraordinary and sobering fact. It means that the current custodians of the News Letter, the staff who produce the paper every day including working holidays (except Christmas Day), have a huge tradition to keep alive.

And that is what we are delighted to keep doing.

The print circulation of almost every newspaper in the western world is in long-term decline. Younger generations find the notion of buying a newspaper baffling.

But there are plenty of signs of hope. In much the same way that many readers of books are finding that they enjoy a physical book rather than an onscreen version, the death of the printed book is if anything further away in the future than it seemed a few years ago.

Often such trends do reverse – cinema ticket sales collapsed in the 1980s as home videos emerged, but attendances later soared as people rediscovered the joy of the big screen.

Newspapers are adapting to the digital age. The News Letter has a busy website and an app to complement our print edition, where people can get trusted news.

Look on page three at the list of events we have covered since 1737. That is just the big stuff. We cover scores of stories every day – and intend to do so for many decades to come.