The Bombay Samachar, Asia’s oldest newspaper, was first published on the first of July 1822 and comprised three small quarto sheets. 10 inches by 8 inches, and a half sheet supplement in all containing 14 pages of printed matter.
A brief description of the contents of this first issue will give an idea of what an Indian journal was in those days. The first sheet consists of advertisements, two of these being about things lost, and one about the sale of some property, all relating to Parsis. Then follows what may be called an article on “Ourselves”.
Then there are four columns of short paragraphs about Government and Court appointments and changes, and powers of attorney taken from the court; about the arrival and departure of ships and of Europeans from Mumbai; and a list of European deaths; as well as of ships loading in the harbour.
Six columns are given to Calcutta (now Kolkata) news taken from the Indian Gazette and the Calcutta Chronicle; one column to Madras (now Chennai) news from the Government Gazette of that city; two columns to London news, whilst a short paragraph of ten lines is devoted to news from Canton in China, given the prices of opium. Of local Bombay news there is very little, except the short paragraph about appointments above.
A weekly till 1832, a bi-weekly till 1855 and a daily since then, it continued to grow and has gone on to become one of Western India’s premier newspapers, well read by a large segment of Gujarati-speaking people both in India and abroad. The founder, a Parsi scholar and priest by the name of Fardoonji Murazban, was a pioneer not only of journalism in Western India but of all Gujarati printed literature. He founded the first native press in 1812 and in 1814 brought out a Gujarati Calendar, fully 6 years before the first Bengali calendar was printed and published in Calcutta. He then went on to bring out his Newspaper, the Bombay Samachar, in 1822.