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Why was London the inevitable starting point for news publication in serial form?

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Introduction

Why was London the inevitable starting point for news publication in serial form? Fleet Street is the area in London that runs from Temple Bar eastwards to Ludgate Circus. It includes the Strand, Blackfriars Road, and Farringdon Street. London, especially Fleet Street, is traditionally the centre of British journalism. In the 1640s it was the starting point for news publication in serial form, when newsbooks were first developed here. Although newsbooks and other news publications had been published before the 1640s, these had only implicitly been serials. The periodicity of early news publications pre-1640 was irregular. They appeared at roughly weekly intervals, whenever there was enough news to fill them. The first effort to produce a serial publication was made by Humphrey Blunden, who produced 'A True Divernall of the Last Weeks Passages in Parliament'. This marked a turning point in news publication as editions started to be numbered and be published at a regular frequency for the first time. These innovations were followed by other publishers and marked the beginning of the serial press. After the appearance of the first serial newsbook in November 1641, there was a rapid expansion of the serial press. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore, Publishers would have to base their publications in an area served well by transportation, to enable the publications to be distributed to a larger area, thus increasing their audience and profits. London was the obvious choice for this. As the capital city of England, it was the centre of the road network, with highways spreading out in all directions. Publishers based in London could distribute their publications to many areas, including Kent, Yorkshire, Sussex and Buckinghamshire. London was also the obvious place for the serial press to be based, as it was the area where a majority of newsworthy events occurred. Joseph Frank states: "London was the capital, in every sense of the word, of England's economic, social, and political life."8 The main areas of public interest at this time were: religious, legal and political issues or events. Being based in the country's political centre was particularly important because many serial news publications solely reported parliamentary proceedings. Examples of these include: 'A Perfect Divernall', 'A continuation of Certain Special and Remarkable Passages', 'Special Passages and England's Memorable Accidents', 'Mercurius Aulicus', 'Certain Informations', 'The Heads of Severall Proceedings in This Present Parliament', and 'The Kingdomes Weekly Intelligencer'. ...read more.

Conclusion

These factors made it highly likely, not inevitable, for London to be the starting point for the serial press. However, there was one factor that did make it inevitable the serial press developed in London in the 17th century; this was the legislation passed in 1557. In 1557 Elizabeth I "introduced a system of...licensing of printers, which proved effective for much of the 16th and 17th centuries,"10 she granted a royal charter to the Stationers Company, to control the number of printers. This had the effect of monopolising and limiting the craft of printing to London. It made it inevitable that serial news publications developed in London, because if publishers produced news documents outside London, they would face prosecution from the government. In conclusion, there were many factors which led to the emergence of London as the starting point for news publication in serial form. These were economic, political, and historical. These factors alone did not make it inevitable for London to emerge as the dominant centre for news publication in serial form, but in combination they contributed to making London the sensible place for publishers to base their publications if they wanted to maximise their profits, which was their primary concern. ...read more.

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