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New exhibition looks at the 200-year long history of the press in Romania.
The daily press has an almost 200-year long history in Romania, with the first newspapers appearing at the end of the 1820s. However, the earliest Romanian publication is considered Courier de la Moldavie, which first appeared in Iași in 1790, was published in French, and contained domestic news from Moldavia, as well as foreign news.
We find this from an exhibition hosted by the Romanian Academy Library called "The Romanian press between tradition and modernity" and which looks back at the beginning of the press in these parts. The Romanian Academy Library has in fact the biggest collection of newspapers and periodicals published on Romanian territory or from abroad. Out of a total of 14 million items evaluated at 3 billion euros that are currently in the Library's possession, more than a half, namely around 8.5 million, are newspapers and periodicals.
The curator of the exhibition Daniela Stanciu told the opening of the exhibition that the press is one of the best ways to find out what the people who lived before us experienced:
"When we speak of the press in general, we don't speak only of newspapers and magazines, but also of other publications appearing regularly, including annuals, specialist journals from various fields and even conference papers. So, the journalistic heritage of a nation is in fact its most extensive history: a history that was being written at the very moment the events were taking place. The reporters' accounts reflect the events as they took place, providing first-hand information to the public. The witness accounts of important events in the history of the world are also important because they provide aspects that may escape the historians' retrospective and analytical gaze. Moreover, the news reports capture the ineffable thrill of the daily lives of the people living in those days, with their mentalities, habits, beliefs and values. When we reread them decades or even centuries later, they provide a quite clear image of what the French call l'air du temps, the spirit of the times."
The emergence and development of the press is connected to the development of technology. The printing press played a decisive role in the dissemination of information. Daniela Stanciu explains:
"The development of the printing press led to the development of the press and the fast spread of information through newspapers. Before that, leaflets were the only means of informing the population. Apart from newspapers and magazines published in the Romanian lands in the 19th century, the exhibition also features a number of leaflets. One announces the publication of Curierul Bucureștilor, later to become Curierul românesc, and the leaflet with the Proclamation of Izlaz, the manifesto of the 1848 movement which is considered the first modern constitution. The proclamation was read by Ioan Heliade Rădulescu on 9th June 1848 in Izlaz, a small port town on the Danube that was not under Turkish control, which is why it was chosen. The exhibition also features a leaflet about the establishment of the printing house of the Metropolitan Church in 1859 and a leaflet containing the speech given by Alexandru Ioan Cuza before the Elective Assembly in 1860, and another in which King Carol I urges Romanians to cross the Danube."
What else can we see in this exhibition? Curator Daniela Stanciu tells us more:
"The newspapers on display are part of the so-called Sărindar press, like Adevărul and Dimineața, which are well-known. The 1836 issue of the magazine Muzeul Național. Gazetă literară și industrială is the first to include a section about the weather, on the last page. This paper also published the letters between Constantin Negruzzi and Heliade Rădulescu under the heading 'Correspondence between two Romanians', one from Wallachia and the other from Moldavia. Also on show is a copy of the magazine Claponul. Foiță hazlie și populară, which was written entirely by Ion Luca Caragiale and of which only six copies appeared in 1877, but which contains sections such as 'Doughnuts' and 'The final hot doughnuts', which provide commentary on current political events in typical humorous Caragiale fashion. We also have the newspaper Adevărul, which first appeared in 1871 in Iași and was moved to Bucharest in 1872. Very few people in Romania know it, but this is the first paper to publish caricature; the first to publish telegrams from abroad and the first Romanian paper to have its own building, its own library, publishing house and archive. As shown by records, it was also the first paper whose employees benefited from secure, and also quite big, wages."
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