Newspaper of record

The New York Times Building in Midtown Manhattan; some meanings of the term originated in reference to The New York Times.

A newspaper of record is a major national newspaper with large circulation whose editorial and news-gathering functions are considered authoritative and independent; they are thus "newspapers of record by reputation" and include some of the oldest and most widely respected newspapers in the world. The level and trend in the number of "newspapers of record by reputation" is regarded as being related to the state of press freedom and political freedom in a country.

It may also be a newspaper authorized to publish public or legal notices, thus serving as a newspaper of public record. A newspaper whose editorial content is largely directed by the state can be referred to as an official newspaper of record, but the lack of editorial independence means that it is not a "newspaper of record by reputation". Newspapers of record by reputation that focus on business can also be called newspapers of financial record.

Newspapers of public record

Paris headquarters of Le Figaro, France's centre-right newspaper of record (public record and by reputation)

A "newspaper of public record", or government gazette, refers to a publicly available newspaper that is authorized by a government to publish public or legal notices. It is often established by statute or official action and publication of notices within it, whether by the government or a private party, is usually considered sufficient to comply with legal requirements for public notice. Such gazettes often have little editorial content (i.e. opinion articles), and are focused on the transmission of information to the public regarding state services and state decisions; an example is Latvia's Latvijas Vēstnesis.

In some jurisdictions, privately owned newspapers may register with the public authorities to publish public and legal notices, or be otherwise eligible to publish such notices (terms used may include "newspaper of general circulation" among others). Likewise, a private newspaper may be designated by the courts for publication of legal notices, such as notices of fictitious business names, if certain judicial and statutory standards are met. These are sometimes called "legally adjudicated newspapers".

As government communications

The term "newspapers of public record" can also be used to denote those that are owned and operated by a government that directs their entire editorial content. Such newspapers, while pejoratively termed "state mouthpieces", can also be called "official newspapers of record", independently of whether or not it also publishes legal notices - distinguishing them from a gazette whose primary role is to publish notices, as their entire editorial copy represents the official view and doctrine of the State. This kind of official newspaper should not be confused with newspapers of record by reputation or for their reliability, and in fact are liable to fail the reputation criterial due to the level of governmental control involved. Inclusion of the word "official" can be used to separate them from "newspapers of record by reputation". Notable examples include Russia's Rossiyskaya Gazeta, North Korea's Rodong Sinmun, and China's People's Daily.

By reputation

First edition of Neue Zürcher Zeitung (1780), the world's oldest newspaper of record by reputation

The second type of "newspaper of record" (also known as a "journal of record", or by the French term presse de référence) is not defined by any formal criteria and their characteristics can vary. The category typically consists of those newspapers that are considered to meet higher standards of journalism than most print media, including editorial independence (particularly from the ruling government and from its owners), accountability (mistakes are acknowledged), attention to detail and accuracy, and comprehensiveness and balance of coverage; they are often renowned internationally, and regarded as sources in their country and/or region by other global outlets.

Some newspapers of record by reputation, while respected for the accuracy and quality of their reporting, can still be recognized as ideologically conservative (e.g. The Wall Street Journal and The Telegraph) or liberal (e.g. The Washington Post and The Guardian).

While many countries are proud of their newspapers of record by reputation, in some countries, they face an openly hostile state or political system that tries to suppress their press freedoms. Examples include Turkey's Cumhuriyet, where many of the staff have been imprisoned, Panama's La Prensa, where staff have been shot and the owners forced into exile, and Venezuela's El Nacional, which was effectively forced out of print by the state who seized all their assets.

Despite changes in society, newspapers of record by reputation have historically tended to maintain a similar tone, coverage, style, and traditions; many newspapers of record are over a century old, with some close to, or over, two centuries old (e.g. Neue Zürcher Zeitung, The Times, The Guardian, Le Figaro, and The Sydney Morning Herald).


The term is believed to have originated among librarians who began referring to The New York Times as the "newspaper of record" when it became the first U.S. newspaper in 1913 to publish an index of the subjects covered in its pages. In recognition of the usage, The New York Times held an essay contest in 1927 in which entrants had to demonstrate "The Value of The New York Times Index and Files as a Newspaper of Record". The New York Times, and other newspapers of its type, then sought to be chroniclers of events, acting as a record of the day's announcements, schedules, directories, proceedings, transcripts and appointments. The New York Times no longer considers itself a newspaper of record in the original, literal sense.

Over time, historians relied on The New York Times and similar titles as a reliable archival and historical record of significant past events, and a gauge of societal opinions at the time of printing. The term "newspaper of record" evolved from its original literal sense to its currently understood meaning.

The derived term "financial (or business) newspaper of record" is attributed to the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei).

Examples of fallen newspapers

The former headquarters of El Nacional, Venezuela's long-standing newspaper of record, which was seized by the state in 2018 and was forced to end newsprint production

Over time, some established newspapers of record by reputation have lost their status due to various factors including financial collapse, take-over or merger by another entity that did not have the same standards or allowed continued independence, and/or increased government control and suppression of the paper's editorial independence. The existence of newspapers of record by reputation is an aspect of the level of press freedom and political freedom in a country, with major first-world democracies having several such newspapers (e.g. United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Canada, Italy and Japan); in contrast, countries that have seen a decline in their newspapers of record by reputation can represent a decline in levels of personal and political freedom (e.g. Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and Cambodia).

Examples include:

  • Zimbabwe's The Herald, lost its status as an established newspaper of record when it was eventually taken over by Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
  • Venezuela's newspaper of record, El Nacional, was forced out of print by the state in 2018, and its headquarters was given to a high-ranking official.
  • London-based pan-Arab newspaper of record, Al-Hayat, ceased in 2020 due to financial and political pressures.
  • In Cambodia, the Hun Sen administration forced both of Cambodia's newspapers of record out of business using contrived tax fines that resulted in the closure of The Cambodia Daily in 2017, and the sale of The Phnom Penh Post to a close ally of the Hun Sen administration in 2018.
  • Latvian newspaper Diena saw its established status as a newspaper of record diminished post a 2010 takeover, with the Historical Dictionary of Latvia (2017) listing it as "holding tenuously to a popular newspaper-of-record sentiment at home and abroad" due to "questions of ownership and if said owners influence newspaper content".

Selected existing examples

Country Region Newspaper City of publication Founded Language Refs.
Argentina Argentina South America La Nación La Nación Buenos Aires 1870 Spanish
Australia Australia Oceania The Age Melbourne 1854 English
The Sydney Morning Herald logo The Sydney Morning Herald Sydney 1831
Austria Austria Europe Die Presse logo Die Presse Vienna 1848 German
Der Standard logo Der Standard 1988
The Bahamas Bahamas Caribbean The Nassau Guardian Nassau 1844 English
Bangladesh Bangladesh South Asia The Daily Star Dhaka 1991 English
Belgium Belgium Europe Le Soir Le Soir Brussels 1887 French
De Standaard De Standaard Groot-Bijgaarden 1918 Dutch
Bolivia Bolivia South America El Diario La Paz 1904 Spanish
Brazil Brazil South America O Estado de S. Paulo Logo O Estado de S. Paulo São Paulo 1875 Portuguese
Folha de S.Paulo Folha de S.Paulo 1921
O Globo O Globo Rio de Janeiro 1925
Canada Canada North America Le Devoir Le Devoir Montreal 1910 French
The Globe and Mail The Globe and Mail Toronto 1844 English
La Presse La Presse Montreal 1884 French
Chile Chile South America El Mercurio El Mercurio Santiago 1900 Spanish
Colombia Colombia South America El Tiempo El Tiempo Bogotá 1911 Spanish
Czech Republic Czech Republic Europe Lidové noviny Lidové noviny Prague 1893 Czech
Denmark Denmark Europe Berlingske Berlingske Copenhagen 1749 Danish
Egypt Egypt Africa Al-Ahram Cairo 1875 Arabic
Finland Finland Europe Helsingin Sanomat Helsingin Sanomat Helsinki 1889 Finnish
France France Europe Le Figaro Le Figaro Paris 1826 French
Libération Libération 1973
Le Monde Le Monde 1944
Germany Germany Europe Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Frankfurt 1949 German
Logo-der spiegel Der Spiegel Hamburg 1947
Süddeutsche Zeitung Süddeutsche Zeitung Munich 1945
Die Zeit Die Zeit Hamburg 1946
Greece Greece Europe Kathimerini Kathimerini Athens 1919 Greek
Hong Kong Hong Kong East Asia The South China Morning Post South China Morning Post Hong Kong 1903 English
India India South Asia The Hindu The Hindu Chennai 1878 English
The Times of India The Times of India Mumbai 1838
The Statesman The Statesman Kolkata 1875
Indonesia Indonesia Southeast Asia Kompas Kompas Jakarta 1965 Indonesian
Iran Iran West Asia Ettela'at Ettela'at Tehran 1926 Persian
Republic of Ireland Ireland Europe The Irish Times The Irish Times Dublin 1859 English
Israel Israel West Asia Haaretz Haaretz Tel Aviv 1919 Hebrew and English
Italy Italy Europe Il Sole 24 Ore Il Sole 24 Ore Milan 1965 Italian
Corriere della Sera Corriere della Sera Milan 1876
La Stampa La Stampa Turin 1867
La Repubblica la Repubblica Rome 1976
Jamaica Jamaica Caribbean The Gleaner Kingston 1834 English
Japan Japan East Asia The Asahi Shimbun The Asahi Shimbun Osaka 1879 Japanese
Mainichi Shimbun Mainichi Shimbun Tokyo 1872
Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) 1876
Yomiuri Shimbun Yomiuri Shimbun 1874
Kenya Kenya Africa Daily Nation Nairobi 1960 English
Lebanon Lebanon West Asia An-Nahar Beirut 1933 Arabic
Malaysia Malaysia Southeast Asia New Straits Times New Straits Times Kuala Lumpur 1965 English
Mexico Mexico North America Reforma Mexico City 1993 Spanish
Netherlands Netherlands Europe NRC Amsterdam 1970 Dutch
New Zealand New Zealand Oceania New Zealand Herald The New Zealand Herald Auckland 1863 English
Norway Norway Europe Aftenposten Aftenposten Oslo 1860 Norwegian
Pakistan Pakistan South Asia Dawn Dawn Karachi 1941 English
Panama Panama Central America La Prensa La Prensa Panama City 1980 Spanish
Peru Peru South America El Comercio El Comercio Lima 1839 Spanish
Philippines Philippines Southeast Asia Philippine Daily Inquirer Philippine Daily Inquirer Makati 1985 English
Poland Poland Europe Gazeta Wyborcza Warsaw 1989 Polish
Rzeczpospolita 1920
Portugal Portugal Europe Diário de Notícias Lisbon 1864 Portuguese
Publico Público Lisbon 1990
Serbia Serbia Europe Politika Politika Belgrade 1904 Serbian
Singapore Singapore Southeast Asia The Straits Times The Straits Times Singapore 1845 English
South Africa South Africa Africa Mail & Guardian Johannesburg 1985 English
South Korea South Korea East Asia The Chosun Ilbo The Chosun Ilbo Seoul 1920 Korean
The Dong-a Ilbo The Dong-a Ilbo 1920
JoongAng Ilbo JoongAng Ilbo 1965
Spain Spain Europe ABC ABC Madrid 1903 Spanish
El Mundo El Mundo 1989
El País El País 1976
Sweden Sweden Europe Dagens Nyheter Dagens Nyheter Stockholm 1864 Swedish
Switzerland Switzerland Europe Neue Zürcher Zeitung Neue Zürcher Zeitung Zurich 1780 German
Le Temps Le Temps Geneva 1998 French
Thailand Thailand Southeast Asia Bangkok Post Bangkok Post Bangkok 1946 English
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago Caribbean Trinidad and Tobago Guardian Port of Spain 1917 English
Turkey Turkey West Asia Cumhuriyet Cumhuriyet Istanbul 1924 Turkish
United Kingdom United Kingdom Europe The Daily Telegraph The Daily Telegraph London 1855 English
The Financial Times The Financial Times 1888
The Guardian The Guardian 1821
The Times 1785
United States United States North America Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times Los Angeles 1881 English
The New York Times The New York Times New York City 1851
The Wall Street Journal The Wall Street Journal 1889
The washington Post The Washington Post Washington, D.C. 1877
Vatican City Vatican City Europe L'Osservatore Romano L'Osservatore Romano Rome 1861 Italian, English, French, Spanish, German, Polish, Portuguese

See also

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