When Thomas Green opened his print shop in a second-floor office on what was known as Queen Street in Hartford, news arrived by post on Saturdays. The city had 3,027 residents and shared the duty of being the state's capital with New Haven. Today the Gold Building, at Main and Pearl streets, towers over Green's old Colonial location.
This all comes to mind because today is Thomas Green Day. On Oct. 29, 1764, Mr. Green published the first edition of The Connecticut Courant, then a weekly, which as of this morning has published continuously for 245 years, longer than any other paper in the country.
Certainly, neither Mr. Green nor his partner and successor, Ebenezer Watson, imagined a paper that would appear in print and online with updates by the hour and the minute. Whereas his readers worried about a pending fight with England and onerous taxes on tea, sugar and paper, ours are following political debates over health care, budget deficits and overseas fighting.
Early issues of The Courant were printed on a hand-pulled press by lantern or candlelight. Mr. Green might have printed as few as 100 copies per issue in the first year. Publication now involves massive high-speed presses and a few keystrokes to post the latest on www.courant.com. Our readership, which was the largest in the Colonies during the Revolution, now stretches around the world, including 800,000 Connecticut residents a week.
The online paper includes audio and video reports, and the newsroom is being transformed from Mr. Green's printing shop to include a fully equipped high-definition television studio for The Courant's sister company, Fox 61, which will begin broadcasting from our soon-to-be-combined headquarters at 285 Broad St. in Hartford in mid-December.
The Courant's long history suggests a durability, credibility and usefulness to our readers and advertisers over nearly 2 1/2 centuries. But no one knows better than journalists that — tradition aside — it is far too easy to become yesterday's news.
We may be older than the nation, but we're still fresh every day.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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