Bohemia's claim for freedom/Journalism
THE influence of the daily and periodical Press on the public life of Bohemia is far-reaching and beneficial in its effects, as it has been in other countries which enjoy the stimulating light that springs from the independent Press of a freedom-loving people.
The development of journalism throughout the country has been extraordinarily rapid. Since 1882, when there were in Bohemia proper only 145 newspapers, that number has increased more than three times over, and the "signs of the times "lead us to anticipate a yet further progress. It is a fact of the most satisfactory kind, that the national thirst for knowledge grows, and it is to the Press tliat all classes in Bohemia look for the supply of their requirements.
The title of Bohemia's first newspaper was cry short and to the point, "Novina," meaning "News." It contained reports of the important events of a most exciting time, the progress of the Turkish wars furnishing it with plenty of thrilling matter to fill its columns. Another journal was brought out in 1597, and published in Prague under the editorship of Daniel Sedlcansky, but the general disturbance caused by the Thirty Years' War had a blighting effect upon this journalistic venture.
Another attempt was made with but moderate results at the close of the seventeenth century, and it was not until 1719 that a great success was achieved by the publication of a paper called The Prague Post News, published every Tuesday and Saturday.
After its first successful launch, the Prague Post News continued a steady and prosperous course through changing times with a worthy succession of editors and under its original title until the year 1845, when the word "Post" was omitted, so that the old paper became henceforth known simply as Prague News.
The eventful year of 1848 had a great effect upon the Bohemian Press. With the dawn of liberty came Karel Havlicek, whose name will ever rank amongst the most brilliant of our journalists. His premature death, an ever-to-be-regretted loss to his country, was no doubt accelerated by the cruel persecution to which he was subjected.
After the death of Havlicek the Press for a time was far from being in a flourishing condition, its leaders had a hard task in their battle against political reaction which threatened to crush the life out of any endeavours to promote a healthy development in the domain of journalism. This state of affairs lasted about ten years, when a marked change in the constitutional laws seemed to put new life into the people, whose patriotic spirit required a strong ally, such as can only be found in a fearless and independent Press. The great alliance of people and Press was proved to be a reality by the rapid increase in the number of newspapers and the expansion of their respective circulations. Thus in 1902 there were 752 Bohemian and Slovak periodicals published, forty-five of them issuing regular supplements. Of these, Prague publishes nine dailies. America has nine in the Bohemian language; Chicago alone has four. The remaining periodicals are issued in Moravia, Silesia, Vienna, and the Slavonic part of Northern Hungary.
As a matter of course the dailies published in Prague wield the greatest influence. In addition to daily and other papers, there are more than sixty reviews. Art and science have their special journals, several can boast of a long period of success. Prague is the chief publishing centre.