Think of how many different ways we get news and information today. The Internet, television, radio, letters, and conversations are just a few ways. In colonial Georgia, people were just as interested in the news as we are today, but they lacked convenient and fast ways of getting it. In fact, the king forbade Georgia colonists to publish a newspaper for the first 30 years of its existence. Instead, people relied on news from traveling visitors, friends, and through letters and newspapers from other places. Finally in 1763, an act of the legislature allowed publication of a newspaper. James Johnson, a printer from Scotland, was named the royal printer and the Georgia Gazette was born. According to Dennis Sodomka, executive editor for The Augusta Chronicle, his paper is a descendant of that original newspaper. The Augusta newspaper is the oldest one published in the south. Old newspapers are great records of historical information from news of the latest tavern opening to listing goods for sale. Sodomka says newspapers are a little like politicians, except they have to get elected everyday. If the public does not choose it, a newspaper can go out of business. He believes a newspaper can make a difference in a community and help make democracy work by giving people the information they need to make informed decisions.
Teacher tip: The segment on Georgia’s oldest business talks about the uncertain future of newspapers. Speculate on how you think we will receive news in the future and whether newspapers will be one of those ways. Just for fun, recall all the uses for newspapers shown in the segment, and suggest some other uses for it.