Baron Paul Julius de Reuter

Articles Image

THE desire for news, to be informed of what is happening elsewhere is as old as civilization and the Jews, like other people, have always been eager to learn. Thus, A scattered over Europe and beyond, they have always carried on a busy correspon? scattered over Europe and beyond, they have always carried on a busy correspon? dence with relatives, business connections and friends. By this means they sometimes obtained news of consequence in circles wider than their own, from abroad and, as happened occasionally in English history, were able to be of appreciable service to the Government of the country whose protection they enjoyed. Jews may therefore be said to have been by heredity, stretched over a score of centuries, specially equipped for the dissemination of news.

About 1830 Karl Friedrich Gauss, a great physicist but a still greater mathematician, began in Goettingen, a Hanoverian university town, his electro-magnetic researches and three years later the first electric telegram could be sent from his laboratory to the one mile distant astronomical observatory. The event created, as might be expected, a considerable stir and among those duly impressed was a sixteen year old bank clerk at Goettingen, Israel Beer Josaphat who, having left school three years earlier, knew practi? cally nothing of electricity or physics. However, he made the acquaintance of the great scientist and it may well be that he was enlightened as to the possibilities of the embryonic invention.

Hitherto the collection and quick dissemination of news had been dependent on the homing instinct of carrier pigeons. Balzac in Monographie de la Presse Parisienne (1843) reveals2 how news from abroad was patched together. Newspapers in Paris employed translators who rendered into French reports and portions of the leading articles from the great journals of all Europe. According to their taste and political conviction the editors added only the juice, "ils joint aux nouvelles la sauce." In 1835 these translators, Balzac continues, became superfluous and lost their jobs because a universal provider of translated news, a Monsieur Havas, had established himself in the Rue Jean-Jacques-Rousseau within easy reach of the General Post Office, Stock Exchange and Produce Exchange, and handed out lithographed foreign news to all who paid for it. This Monsieur Havas was Charles Louis Havas, a Sephardi Jewish merchant, hailing from Oporto, whose office developed into the Agence Havas, the leading French news agency. He, however, had not been the first in the field?the pioneer was the German Jew, Boernstein, who formed in 1831 in Paris, the Correspondance Gamier, which was two or three years later acquired by Havas.

Among the clerks whom Havas gathered round him was the young man who sixteen years earlier had come in contact with Gauss when the first telegraphic message had been sent. Josaphat remained with Havas for some years until, in the spring of 1849, with not much experience, inadequate financial means but unbounded courage, he began to publish, in Paris, his own lithographed news-sheet.

Israel Beer Josaphat, was born in 1816 at Cassel, the capital

Become a member to read the full article
Become a member today

£7

24 hour access to JHSE online resources

Instant access to over 700 articles View the original articles as a PDF
Learn More

£40

Annual JHSE Membership

Members are entitled to a free copy of the latest Jewish Historical Studies, free access to our online resources and associate membership of the UCL Library in London.  In addition, they receive the JHSE Newsletter, special offers on books for sale and pay less to attend our series of lectures and other public events.
Learn More

£20

Student Membership

The JHSE want to encourage students to engage with Jewish history.  Apply for a Student Membership with your university email account and once we have verified your status you will soon have all the benefits of being a full JHSE member.
Learn More

£80

Associate your Institution with the JHSE

Give your members access to JHSE online resources and special offers on book sales.  Use your institutional email account when applying, and once your status is verified we will explain the scheme.  Preferred payment is by credit or debit card.
Learn More
0

Your Cart