On this day In European History: December 4th 1791
W.S. Bourne, a British citizen, published the world’s first Sunday newspaper, The Observer, now owned by the British company Guardian Media Group Limited.
By Luke Jeske
W.S. Bourne launched The Observer at the end of a century during which the British newspaper industry exploded. In the early 1700’s, most newspapers (and similarly styled pamphlets, bulletins, etc.) appeared monthly and attracted only a scant audience. By the time that The Observer was published in 1791, British printers distributed several million copies of newspapers annually.
Bourne started his paper in order to reap some of the profits of this booming industry. However, he found himself struggling to earn back his initial investments. Bourne hired a new editor in 1807 and wiped his hands clean of the business when he sold the paper in 1814. The subsequent owners and editors of The Observer expanded the paper’s readership and covered the engaging, if often turbulent, news of the modern era.
The Observer, the first Sunday paper, continues to set new precedents. The editors and owners of The Observer created a blog in 2005, becoming the first newspaper to detail their internal decisions publicly online. Nor did the firsts stop there. In the same year, The Observer became the first newspaper to release podcasts. Innovation is an integral component of the media industry, whether that means launching a Sunday paper or starting a company blog.