World's Oldest Newspaper Llyod's List Realizes It Has 25 Subscribers, Goes Digital

Add this small nail to the death-of-print-journalism's coffin: the world's supposed oldest newspaper, Lloyd's List , is going full-on digital ... after the paper realized it only had 25 subscribers. The 279-year-old shipping industry daily got its start, like many great ideas, in a coffee shop. At first, the "newspaper" was just a mere sheet of paper tacked to the wall of a London coffee house by owner Edward Lloyd. The publication served as a record of what ships were arriving in port and which ones were leaving — information that in 1734 was pretty darn vital. The small but symbolic paper has announced it will distribute its last print issue on Dec. 20.

"We're a 300-year-old newspaper and shipping is a fairly conservative industry so you wear that weight and go online-only with some trepidation," editor Richard Meade said.

Meade points out that by going digital-only, customers will now be able to access the paper in "any coffee shop," so there's that. As part of what Meade calls the paper's "natural evolution," existing print staff will cross over with the publication into the digital realm and work on its daily tablet and smartphone editions.

“It’s a question of re-skilling a few people who have got digital skills but are currently having to lay out a print edition every afternoon,” said Meade.

The paper's website is pretty decent, and with more than 16,000 paying subscribers, it is certainly doing much better than the print edition already.

“In a sea of stories about media companies failing to make a profit, we are a success story,” Meade said. “We are the oldest newspaper in the world. This is part of securing our future for the next 300 years.”

Oh, go on, then. You've every right to boast.