The Observer, a British newspaper became the first newspaper in the world to be published and read on a Sunday.
The first edition of the Observer appeared on 4 December 1791. WS Bourne, the founder of the newspaper, stated that it would share “the spirit of enlightened Freedom, decent Toleration and universal Benevolence.”
He also hoped that “the establishment of a Sunday newspaper would obtain him a rapid fortune.” However within three years, Bourne, a man of minor literary ability and no commercial acumen, found himself £1,600 in debt and was attempting to sell the title to the government (they declined).
The four-page first edition included news about crops, sending convicts to Botany Bay, fashionable residences and a new theatre on London’s Drury Lane. It is one of England’s quality newspapers, long noted for its emphasis on foreign coverage. The paper devotes extensive space to the arts, government, education, and politics, and it has a worldwide reputation for responsible journalism. The Observer is considered by other editors to be among the world’s best papers. For many years it has maintained a substantial staff of foreign correspondents that supplies news and background pieces for the paper’s generally well-educated readers, including a large international audience.
The Observer briefly passed out of British ownership in 1976, when it was sold to an American conglomerate, the Atlantic Richfield Company. In 1981 it was returned to British hands when an industrialist, Roland Rowland, bought control. The Observer was purchased in 1993 by the Guardian Media Group, of which The Guardian newspaper is also a part.