South Africa & World

200 Years Aftermath Of The Peterloo Massacre


By Katharine Viner, Editor in Chief The Guardian

Today marks a very special moment in the history of the Guardian. It is exactly 200 years since a Saturday in 1821 when, in the aftermath of the Peterloo massacre, a four-page weekly first appeared in Manchester for the princely sum of seven pence.

More than 54,000 editions – and several million articles – later, we’re proud to say we’re older than Germany, fish ‘n’ chips, the FA Cup, the New York Times, the bicycle and the state of Texas.

So for the next few days and weeks, we play to make the most of this moment, sharing some of the journalism that changed the world, and reminding ourselves that we don’t always get things right, that not everyone agrees with us.

The Guardian has come a long way since that first print run of 1,000 copies. Now we have tens of millions of readers around the world, and 1.5 million supporters in more than 180 countries. It is their anniversary to celebrate too, as their support galvanises our work, making possible the kind of journalism that makes a difference.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be keeping you up to date with a series of six emails that will signpost all our anniversary antics. Apologies if that feels a bit much. We won’t repeat it again until our 300th birthday, by which time email will in any case almost certainly be obsolete.

We’d like to extend a wholehearted invitation to you to get involved, even if just by sending us some anniversary greetings, attending a live event, or reading some of the anniversary journalism that we are publishing.

For me, this is a moment to reflect on what the Guardian is for and where it is going. As I set out in an essay today, the first questions for the Guardian’s third century revolve around the new world created by the pandemic.

What can we do to help shape the memory of this catastrophe? What role can we plan in ensuring we do not settle for some diminished version of what passed for normal before? How can we elevate the ideas that will help us build back better?

How can we remain an integral part of the community that we represent, now that this community is properly global, confronting crisis on a global scale?

These are our preoccupations as, with your help, we get ready for years, decades, centuries of publishing to come.

For 200 years, the Guardian has been supported and sustained by millions of people just like you, who consider our honesty, determination and perhaps also our irreverence worth paying a little something for. If you value our journalism, our independence, our spirit, consider supporting us today.

It took us 200 years to get here, but will only take you a minute to join.


Robert Tapfumaneyi


Leave a Reply