History of the print newspaper

Ashley Barletta, Staff writer

News has been distributed since ancient times. In China, one of the earliest forms of media was known as the tipao, essentially an ancient bulletin or poster. In 1605, Germany printed the first newspaper as we know it.

The first newspaper in England was printed in 1665. An American newspaper followed in 1690, and newspapers began to circulate widely by the end of the century.

In the early 20th century, newspapers were the primary medium of news communication, augmented by radio and television coverage.
If you have ever wondered how the Merciad came to be, look no further. It has been in print since 1929, which is almost as old as Mercyhurst University itself. The Merciad is also one of the oldest continuously-publishing college newspapers in the country and it is still physically printed instead of digital, like many other newspapers are nowadays.

“The Merciad has always been student-written and student-run. The first Merciad issue went to print in December 1929 with a dedicated eight-person staff who saw the Merciad as a news source for the social advancement of the school,” Marina Boyle, current editor-in-chief of the Merciad, said.

Originally, the newspaper was a quarterly publication that was printed in black and white. It was also a newspaper that was printed for the Erie community rather than just the school. Change came in the the 1950s and 1960s when it began printing monthly. Now, the Merciad is printed weekly with portions in color ink.

“The slogan of the Merciad for many years was ‘If you don’t want it printed, don’t let it happen.’ For me, this is a pretty accurate representation of the culture of the Merciad. Back in the 30’s and 40s the school was so small that articles would literally be printed saying things like ‘Helen from room 301 has a boy in her bedroom this weekend! But don’t worry, it’s just her little brother!’” Boyle said.
Another interesting fact about the Merciad is that back when class sizes were small enough, the newspaper would have graduation photos of all the students along with biographies.

“The newspaper also published news specific to each grade and had an alumni news section with photos and updates,” said Boyle.
The Merciad has always been student oriented, and is a great way to keep students updated on all of the events occurring on campus. Its engaging aspects include horoscopes, comics, crosswords and the ever-popular sudoku.

“The vintage Merciads also featured cooking sections and fashion advice and were very faith-based. They published student poetry and highly personalized anecdotes. In the Valentine’s Day issue you could hear who got what as a gift and after the summer the girls published records of their travel,” Boyle said.

In the age of COVID-19, we have seen more and more of our lives take place in the virtual space. This includes the media we consume. Many newspapers now only publish digital copies, and many universities struggle with the cost of printing a physical newspaper each month or week.

Although we take great pride in printing a physical version of the Merciad, there are also electronic versions of all of the previous issues of the newspaper found online in the archives. Here you can find all previous prints of the Merciad, beginning with December 1929.
Even though there have been numerous changes this year, the Merciad remains a consistent Mercyhurst tradition that we are able to continue. To keep people safe we ask that you do not share copies of the paper and recycle your copy after reading. This way, we can keep printing.

I have always enjoyed writing for the Merciad and being able to do something that I love. The Merciad has given me so many opportunities to report on the numerous happenings here at Mercyhurst.

The Merciad logo has undergone a number of changes since the above 1942 edition, depicting both the Chapel and Old Main (Contributed photo)
The Merciad logo has undergone a number of changes since the above 1942 edition, depicting both the Chapel and Old Main (Contributed photo)
The logo from 2000 included the Mercyhurst crest behind the name. (Contributed photo)

It is truly something that I enjoy and will continue to enjoy for all of my years here.