About Community Newspapers

America’s community newspapers began in Boston on Sept. 25, 1690, with the publication of Publick Occurrences: Both Foreign and Domestic by Benjamin Harris. Intended for monthly publication, the first newspaper was three 6 by 9 1/2 inch printed pages with one blank page for private correspondence. Unfortunately, the local authorities considered this publication, "Without the least Privacy or Countenance of Authority" and containing "affections of a very high nature: As also sundry doubtful and uncertain Reports." As a result, an immediate ban on publication was issued and a second edition was never produced. It was not until 1704 that a second, more successful, newspaper appeared.

Since those early days, there have been thousands of community newspapers published throughout the United States. The early community newspapers were generally non-daily publications serving a small community. Over the years, as markets, technologies and business models changed, distinguishing community newspapers based on frequency or circulation was no longer appropriate.

Today, the distinguishing characteristic of a community newspaper is its commitment to serving the information needs of a particular community. The community is defined by the community’s members and a shared sense of belonging. A community may be geographic, political, social or religious. A community newspaper may be published once a week or daily. Some community newspapers exist only in cyberspace. Any newspaper that defines itself as committed to serving a particular community many be defined as a "community newspaper."

Despite the emergence of new information technologies such as the Internet, community newspapers continue to play an important role in the Information Age. Over 150 million people are informed, educated and entertained by a community newspaper every week. Moreover, the value of community newspapers continues to grow as they seek new ways to serve their readers and strengthen their communities.