Christoph Prescher – riiklik ajalehekirjutaja ja uudistekaupmees 1680. aastate alguse Riias

Kaarel Vanamölder

Abstract


Christoph Prescher – official newswriter and information merchant in Riga in the early 1680s

The profession of a newswriter or a news transmitter (Zeitungsschreiber in German), who collected and sold information, was born in the context of expanding and intensifying postal networks during the sixteenth century in Europe. Professional newswriters (also called Zeitunger, Novellanten, or Avisenschreiber in the German-speaking areas) were active in the market towns situated in the most important junctions of postal roads. Information became an object of trade in early modern Europe – the public sale of news or news mediums became a widespread business that proceeded, for example, in the cultural area of Germany or the Netherlands on private initiative and was a supplementary activity to the person’s main profession. Countries with a strong central power, including the Swedish realm, gave the information business to certain persons who were under the control of the state.
This article observes the changes in the news market of Riga in the beginning of the 1680s. In 1680, Christoph Prescher was assigned as the official newswriter of Riga. He was an official acting under the royal privilege, and he had been granted the exclusive position for issuing a newspaper. As the official newswriter, Prescher diff ers from the average early modern newspaper merchant acting on private initiative as the latter was involved in the sale of information as a supplementary business.
This article discusses whether the royal privilege itself was enough to fulfil the task successfully and to earn a living. As the official newswriter, Prescher had to face economic difficulties which he tried to overcome by finding new readers outside Riga and Livland and by advertising his newspaper in Tallinn. However, one year aft er the first issue of the newspaper, the financial difficulties had not dissolved. To exempt himself from the restricted role of a newswriter, Prescher tried to find supplementary outputs: he offered to carry out the restructuring of the Riga postal office (which had been stripped of the right to trade with news), as both hoped to restore the normal situation in effect prior to the year 1680.
It seems that the problems of the official newswriter were solved by the end of the 1680s, when the newspaper had developed a large number of subscribers in the provinces of Estland, Livland, and Ingermanland, in addition to the readers in Riga.

KEYWORDS: Baltic history, Swedish history, early modern period, communication, newspapers, Riga, 17th century.

KAAREL VANAMÖLDER (b. 1981) is a Lecturer of Estonian history at the Narva College, University of Tartu.

Correspondence: Narva College, University of Tartu, Raekoja plats 2, Narva 20307, Estonia. E-mail: kaarel.vanamolder@ut.ee

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.12697/AA.2013.2.03




ISSN 1406-3859 (print)
ISSN 2228-3897 (online)
Journal DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12697/issn1406-3859