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Roman Actas come full circle into modern journalism

Posted by: | September 11, 2012 | No Comment |

A form of the earliest newspapers, the Roman Acta Diurna were a daily posting of news from the Roman officials. Unlike the flimsy and disposable modern newspaper, the Actas were carved onto stone and metal and published in the forums for public viewing.

The first Acta was published sometime around 131 B.C. during the Roman Republic. After a few days, the tablets were taken down. No known originals survive. The earliest Actas described legal proceedings and trial results, but they were later expanded to include information like births, deaths and marriages.

Photo courtesy of http://warandgame.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/juliuscaesar.jpg

The Acta Senatus were a military notices originally kept secret from the public. However, in 59 B.C., Julius Caesar made the records available to the public. This practice was continued on by some later rulers, but they were often censored.

Some even argue that the Roman’s were ahead of their time with the Acta Diurna and the Acta Senatus. According to Mark Pack of the The Dabbler, the simple and effective tactics the Romans used for their Actas are still applicable in modern internet journalism. His article, “The Acta Diurna, or how the Romans had an internet saavy approach to information” details the effective ways the Romans combined hard news with human interest, making the information free and public and easy for the content to be shared far and wide.

under: Comm 455
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