Germany has long had a hand in journalism, including it being involved with the very creation of the printing press. While not all of its contributions have been beneficial to the field, one cannot argue that, without Germany’s involvement, journalism would be a very different beast today (if it would be around at all).
Johann Gutenberg, a name known to many journalists and history buffs, came from and invented his printing press in Germany. Before his revolutionary invention, written news had to be copied by hand. This caused problems for the news itself, as copying by hand could easily add errors in addition to any errors already present in the story.
Gutenberg’s printing press removed the former human error, while leaving the latter. On top of keeping some errors from plaguing news stories, his printing press also allowed for documents to be copied at a faster rate than being copied by hand. A boon for a budding journalism industry.
One of the press’s first achievements was its use in distributing news on Christopher Columbus’ voyage to America. The printing press allowed the news to circulate within months of his return.
Control of the Press
Germany, like much of Europe at some time or another, wrested control of the press. In 1521, the Edict of Worms was passed, which enforced censorship upon the printers. Printers had to get the OK from either the church or someone of authority in the government. This control allowed Germany to control what was and wasn’t published, ensuring that only articles that favored the government and church would be allowed.
Blazing a Trail – The First Newspapers
There is some evidence that there were newspapers of a sort created in Germany as far back as the 15th century.
It wouldn’t be until Gutenberg’s printing press, however, that newspapers would begin to truly come into fashion.
In the early 17th century, newspapers began to spawn like rabbits. A collection of German newsbooks were found to have been published in Strasbourg in 1609. Newspapers than began to pop up in many countries, including England, Germany, and Belgium.
Germany – The Mother of Journalism
Though many other countries had their hand in the development of journalism, Germany easily had one of the greatest contributions thanks to Gutenberg. Without his invention, one can only imagine where the field would be now.