How did news travel in a pre radio world? And how fast did the word get around?


What was the best way to spread information? Everything from news, gossip, and emergencies

In: 71

Slowly, for example england to the American colonies took 5 weeks to three months depending upon wind and such, but usually around 6-7 weeks.

From the fringes of rome, say Modern London to rome would have taken around a month one way on horseback. You’d be traveling a solid 3 times faster on horse than foot

The Telegraph and newspapers, news from point A would be send by telegraph to point B and then distributed to the public by newspaper. That system was the main communication method from 1830, when telegraph was invented, until the invention of better methods like radio and telephone.

The Telegraph was almost real time communion so if you had a telegraph cable that connected to distant points, like Lisboa in Portugal and Moscow in Russia you could send information almost instantly between the two points. One of the most expensive communication projects of the time was the construction of a trans-oceanic telegraph cable, it was relatively easy to connect any two places as long as there wasn’t a big water-body in the middle of your way but if you had say the Atlantic Ocean the project became really difficult and expensive, so for a long time communion was limited between Europe and the US, the news had to travel by ship.

I believe the print media/newspaper must have played a greater role at that point for the latest update on the things of national importance.

There is some interesting stuff in the link but to give a bit of a summary. Originally messages would travel at the speed of a human or the animal that could transport them ( or a ship at sea). But that wasn’t the limit before radio was invented because there was semaphore and telegraphy. Smoke signals were used on the Great Wall of China and by Native Americans , the Ancient Greeks used torches, the French and the English developed systems of semaphore using panels , flags , lights and shutters. The latter enabled a signal to be sent the 85 miles from London to the Portsmouth Naval base in 15 minutes. Pretty soon though telegraphy using morse code down a wire became the main form of quick long distance communication after developments in the US.

Person on horseback, beacon fires and semaphore were all methods of transmitting information.