The oldest free daily in 1885?

In the introduction of a new German book on free dailies in Europe (see previous post), the General-Anzeiger für Lübeck und Umgebung is said to be the first free daily ever – although it seems to be more of a mixed free/paid model. Information on Wikipedia and the company’s (now Lübecker Nachrichten) website completed the picture.

The paper was founded in 1882 by Charles Coleman (1852-1936), who’s family was from Scotland, as a free twice-a-week advertising paper in the Northern German town of Lübeck. In 1885 the paper went daily. From the beginning the General-Anzeiger für Lübeck had a mixed model, for 60 pfennig it was home delivered during three months.

Unknown, however, is when the free distribution ended. The company website states that the ’sold’ circulation in 1887 was 5,000. In 1890 total circulation was 12,800 in 1890, suggesting that there was indeed a fair amount of free distribution.

In the thirties the paper was taken over by the Nazi’s, while it merged with the NSDAP paper Lübecker Volksbote in 1942 – the new paper was called Lübecker Zeitung. In 1945 the paper was closed down. A year later new owners got permission to start the Lübecker Nachrichten. The paper sold for 15 pfennig but according to the website the black market price for a newspaper in these days could be 3 marks. In 1971 Axel Springer buys 20%, later increasing this later to a 49% ownership – in 2009 the share is sold to Madsack.

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