Launched on Nov. 15, 1995, Consortium News is one of the oldest, continuously running, professional, U.S. news site on the web. Help us celebrate our 25th Anniversary.
By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
In terms of the World Wide Web, November 1995 is ancient history. That’s when Robert Parry founded this website as an alternative to the repressive consensus of the mainstream newspapers, all of which at the time was still available only on paper.
Consortium News appeared two months before The New York Times launched its website on Jan. 22, 1996; five months before The Los Angeles Times launched on April 8, 1996 and The Wall Street Journal first published online on April 29, 1996, introducing the first “pay wall” (CN has always been free.) The Washington Post went online in June 1996, seven months after CN. CNN’s website was first published on the web on Aug. 30, 1995, making it the first news site in the U.S.
Parry wrote that the first edition of this website went live “on or about Nov. 15,” 1995. The Post registered its domain name at nearly the same time, on Nov. 13, 1995, but after a failed attempt to launch an online depository of articles called “Digital Ink,” the Post‘s website would not appear until seven months later.
In 1974, the (PLATO) News Report was published online at the University of Illinois on the PLATO system. In 1987, a Brazilian newspaper, Jornaldodia, was published on the state-owned Embratel network. There was an experiment as early as 1980 with Compuserve to deliver 11 newspapers electronically to the few people who had personal computers then. The text of an entire newspaper would take two to six hours to download (after 6 pm) and cost up to $30.
The first website on the World Wide Web was launched on Dec. 20, 1990, making online newspapers feasible. Just five years later Consortium News began, establishing it as arguably the first stand-alone, U.S. news website. Just five days later, on Nov. 20, 1995 Salon published its first online edition as salonmag.com.
The first student newspaper in the U.S. on the web was The Tech, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which launched in May 1993. In Ireland, the The Irish Times (irish-times.ie ) launched sometime in 1994. In Britain the first web news site were The Economist and The Daily Telegraph, which both launched in 1994.
According to the list of the oldest U.S., still active websites, found on the Thought Catalog, none of the sites older than CN were devoted to news. Two ongoing websites that started in 1995 occupy the tenth spot. Neither Consortium News nor Salon is mentioned.
Fourteenth on the list is the Bob Dole-Jack Kemp ’96 presidential campaign website, which is incredibly, still on line.
Parry’s website, constructed by his son Sam Parry, is an experiment that has surely stood the test of time. It is an achievement that could not have been accomplished without the generous support of our readers over these many years. Please take part in this ongoing venture with a tax-deductible donation to our 25th Anniversary Fall Fund drive, as we embark on our next quarter century.
Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Sunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers. He began his professional career as a stringer for The New York Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe .