by Richard McKinstry

The most common title for an American newspaper published between 1704 and 1820 was Gazette, chosen by various printers 488 times. Close behind was Advertiser, used 440 times and reflecting the importance of people who paid the local printer for newspaper ads. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish a newspaper from a magazine; however, many observers agree that a newspaper has a characteristic format, contains current news, is published more frequently than magazines, includes advertisements, and covers local events. Early American newspapers were both general in nature and targeted to a specific audience such as individuals engaged in mercantile trade. Because they were printed on better quality rag-based paper, newspapers issued before the Civil War are far more likely to survive today. Newspapers are invaluable for their immediacy, recording history as it happened.

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