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.