Sunday, January 28, 2007

STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s Post och Inrikes Tidningar, regarded as the world’s oldest newspaper though it had actually become a government bulletin, has suspended publication to become available only on the Internet.

Founded in 1645 by Queen Christina, the Post och Inrikes Tidningar (PoIT), or Post and Domestic Newspapers, was a staple for Swedish readers throughout the late 17th and 18th centuries.

But its readership dwindled as rival newspapers appeared, confining PoIT primarily to the publication of announcements from publicly listed companies, and financial and legal institutions. While the paper has not covered news stories for more than 100 years, the World Association of Newspapers recognizes PoIT, whose editor is the only employee, as the world’s oldest still in publication.

In electronic format, introduced on Jan. 1, PoIT remains the official news organ of the government, a role enshrined in Swedish law as it has been since the 17th century. PoIT’s new editor in chief, Roland Haegglund, said the move to the Internet would breathe new life into the paper. “It will definitely widen our readership. Now anyone with Internet access can read PoIT free of charge.”

Queen Christina and her chancellor, Axel Oxenstierna, started the paper in 1645. PoIT eventually broadened international and domestic news coverage, publishing weather observations, poetry and serialized novels as well, but never photographs or advertisements. As the number of newspapers multiplied, PoIT reduced its news content and by the early 1900s was no longer the newspaper of reference in Sweden. In 1978, the paper adopted the booklet format, and the final print version had a circulation of only 1,500 subscribers.

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