Friday 28 October 2016

Free press means survival

Published 09/12/2012 | 05:00

Madam – Readers of the Sunday Independent will be familiar with the recent historical work published on the Independent group.

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They will perhaps be less aware of the fact that the Belfast Newsletter, the oldest newspaper on the island, has just celebrated its 275th anniversary with the publication of a special supplement. In the late 18th Century, the Newsletter was arguably the most important newspaper in the world, leading the way in discussion of the American and French Revolutions and their impact on Britain and Ireland.

The supplement reveals that the paper's owners – notably when the liberal editor Sam Butler was at the helm in the 1980s – allowed considerable editorial freedom, which goes a long way to explaining the paper's long-term survival.

Professor Paul Bew,

Queen's College, Belfast

Sunday Independent

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