‘An Ounce of Truth’ Published Every Fortnight
The first installment of our Local News in America Project takes us to New Hampshire. It’s here in Portsmouth where you’ll find the ‘Nation’s Oldest Newspaper,’ the New Hampshire Gazette.
This oral history (links below) offers a look at the Gazette’s beginnings and meanders its way through to the present day. Publisher Steven Fowle tells this story as no one else can: He is the third cousin, five times removed, of the original publisher, Daniel Fowle.
Daniel Fowle founded the Gazette in 1756, much to the disdain of local authorities — who provided Fowle with plenty of fodder to fill the pages of the Gazette as the Revolutionary War raged on. After being jailed for speaking out (not uncommon during those days for media types), Fowle doubled down on seeking truth. His spirit lives on in the family’s DNA, and today, Steven uses the 8-page alternative biweekly to call it as he sees it.
Steven is proud of the paper’s history of dissent. But he also is quick to address one of the great hypocrisies of America’s early media outlets: While the original Publisher, Daniel Fowle, used his platform to fight for civil liberties and confront what he called “the monster of monsters,” it was Primus Fowle who quietly saw to the printing of the Gazette for 50 years.
No one knows what ultimately happened to Daniel, but Primus is buried in a local and only recently rediscovered cemetery on the outskirts of Portsmouth. Today, it’s known as the African Burying Ground, the resting place for about 200 enslaved Africans.
The Gazette ceased publication but was brought back to life in 1989 when Steven, who kicked around trying to find himself after serving in the Vietnam War, discovered the name was available. He bought it for $40. After some trial and error, he settled on an eight-page format for two good reasons: He could handle the work involved in creating that much news every two weeks, and when the small broadsheet was folded and popped into an envelope, it weighed in at one ounce. All that is required is a first-class stamp to reach each of its roughly 325 subscribers.
Please take a listen to the podcast or watch the video on YouTube to hear the full story of the Gazette. If you’re into American history or news, this gives you a bit of both. It also sets the stage for understanding how news grew up in this country, including the parts seldom discussed or conveniently forgotten by history.
Listen to the audio podcast here: FMC Fast Chat : ‘An Ounce of Truth’ Published Every Fortnight on Apple Podcasts