Before the invention of newspapers in the early 17th century, official government bulletins and edicts were circulated at times in some centralized empires.
The first documented use of an organized courier service for the diffusion of written documents is in Egypt, where Pharaohs used couriers for the diffusion of their decrees in the territory of the State (2400 BC). This practice almost certainly has roots in the much older practice of oral messaging and may have been built on a pre-existing infrastructure.
In Ancient Rome, Acta Diurna, or government announcement bulletins, were made public by Julius Caesar. They were carved in metal or stone and posted in public places.
In China, early government-produced news sheets, called tipao, circulated among court officials during the late Han dynasty (second and third centuries AD). Between 713 and 734, the Kaiyuan Za Bao ("Bulletin of the Court") of the Chinese Tang Dynasty published government news; it was handwritten on silk and read by government officials. In 1582 there was the first reference to privately published newssheets in Beijing, during the late Ming Dynasty.
In Early modern Europe, increased cross-border interaction created a rising need for information which was met by concise handwritten newssheets. In 1556, the government of Venice first published the monthly Notizie scritte, which cost one gazetta. These avvisi were handwritten newsletters and used to convey political, military, and economic news quickly and efficiently to Italian cities (1500–1700) — sharing some characteristics of newspapers though usually not considered true newspapers. Due to low literacy rates, news was at times disseminated by town criers.
Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien, from 1605, is recognized as the world's first newspaper.
The oldest news agency is the Agence France-Presse (AFP). It was founded in 1835 by a Parisian translator and advertising agent, Charles-Louis Havas as Agence Havas.
In modern times, printed news had to be phoned in to a newsroom or brought there by a reporter, where it was typed and either transmitted over wire services or edited and manually set in type along with other news stories for a specific edition. Today, the term "breaking news" has become trite as commercial broadcasting United States cable news services that are available 24-hours a day use live satellite technology to bring current events into consumers' homes as the event occurs. Events that used to take hours or days to become common knowledge in towns or in nations are fed instantaneously to consumers via radio, television, mobile phone, and the Internet.
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