Eduardo Coelho

In 1864, Portugal witnesses the consequences of the Industrial Revolution at a time when journalism started to blossom. In this year comes, by the hands of Eduardo Coelho, Diário de Notícias – the first popular industrial newspaper

The industrialization arrives to the Press

The year was 1834. The liberal’s triumph in Civil War allowed the promulgation of a new Law of Freedom of the Press. The interference of the political power in journalism started to be seen with some disdain, and the exemption of preventive measures started to be guaranteed. To the already consolidated newspapers, with elitist and partisan contents, started to join the political and popular newspapers. The press in Portugal flourished.

In 1864, Diário de Notícias (DN) appeared as the first industrial popular newspaper, in the hands of Eduardo Coelho and Tomás Quintino Antunes. It was seen the arrival of the Industrial Revolution in Portugal.

From the Typography to a desk in the newsroom

It was in this country that José Eduardo Coelho, future director of Diário de Notícias, was born, on April 23rd of 1835. Fatherless at the age of 13, he was sent to Lisbon by his mother, to work in the commerce area. In 1852, published O Livrinho dos Caixeiros, a collection of demanding and whistle-blower verses.



Two years after, he paid for the publishing of the novel O Pastor da Floresta in the newspaper Jardim Literário. This was how he said goodbye to commerce, starting to learn the art of typography, aiding, for free, to compose the newspaper Jardim Literário. Such allowed him to continue to publish texts in that journal, where he ended up by earning employment as typographer. In 1857, he ran for a position as typographer in Imprensa Nacional, earning the job, but he would abandon it less than a year after. By this time, the idea of launching a news journal started to grow in Eduardo Coelho’s head.

Eduardo Coelho started to live of the collaboration with the newspapers O Conservador, Gazeta de Portugal and Revolução de Setembro as newscaster, editor of the readers’ correspondence section and of the matters of the province correspondents.

Besides journalism, he also earned a living from political advisory, being secretary of the politicians José Estêvão (a dominant figure of the left-wing opposition at Câmara dos Deputados) and António Feliciano de Castilho (great propagandist of his reading method – Método de Castilho).

Within the world of journalism and politics, Eduardo Coelho yet remained politically neutral. He essentially wrote news and theatre reviews, besides columns, and not featured articles. He travelled also in Portugal, Spain, France and other European countries, where he contacted with other newspapers, such as Petit Journal which he would later use as basis to found DN.



The birth of Diário de Notícias

On December 29th of 1864, the first number of Diário de Notíciasstarted to circulate. It was born a newspaper different from all others in Portugal, in contents as in its clear, concise, precise and simple style. Even its form and dimension stood out from the others and, especially, its price: the cheapest in the market.

It was possible to read in the first page of the new newspaper:

"Diário de Notícias – its title is saying it – will be a careful compilation of the all daily news, of all countries, of all specialties, a universal newscast. In an easy style, and with greater concision, it will inform the reader of all interesting events (…) Eliminating the featured article, it doesn’t discuss politics, nor sustains controversy."



The goal was obvious: to give a new perspective of the news, informative and generalist journalism, that aimed to be neutral, ethical, independent and the realest possible. Aimed to all population and seen essentially as a business.

The newsroom, settled at Rua dos Calafates, in Bairro Alto, would be the first to have a private wireless telegraphy post.

In the middle of the 19th Century, the neighborhood went through a transformation. It quickly converted in a place of typographers and newsrooms, where also was Tipografia Universal, of which Tomás Quintino Antunes was the owner. The partnership between Antunes and Eduardo Coelho was formed, and the printing and survival of Diário de Notícias was assured. Years laer, in 1885, the street would honor the newspaper, such was its contribution to the Portuguese journalism.



DN, read by the population and even by the Royal Family, guaranteed from its beginning a huge success. With an initial circulation of five thousand copies, after five years it already had 17 thousand. In 1885, there were already 26 thousand daily copies and it presented to public with more contents and more adverts.

Another singularity that the new daily introduced was the implementation of an organized system of information gathering for the newspaper, through a network of informers that reached several correspondents spread through the country, in Brazil and in Spain. Besides that, it counted with a telegraph, news agencies and railway to obtain information from everywhere.


The notoriety

However, the start of the newspaper wasn’t only made of success. DN’s pioneer journalism clashed with the eighteenth century society, especially with elites, who accused the newspaper of a «decadent journalism», for paying attention to crime, social trivialities and other aspects of the people’s everyday lives. Despite a few obstacles, Diário de Notícias managed to win and prosper. Actually, its low price gave origin to an explosion in the number of newspaper vendors.



In truth, the daily journal earn notoriety and revolutionized journalism in Portugal due to many innovations, such as the introduction of stories and the appearance of spaces aimed to the reader, the publication of special numbers and the creations of the low cost ad section. Besides, it became the first newspaper to make intensely illustrated pages, such as the example of the first page dedicated to Carnaval, by the artist Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro, published on February 26th of 1895.



The newspaper prospered under the extraordinarily thought and calculated actions of Eduardo Coelho. One of those examples is also the publication of «O Mistério da Estrada de Sintra», signed by Eça de Queiroz and Ramalho Ortigão.

Eduardo Coelho would be director of Diário de Notícias until his death, on May 14th of 1889. The bigger founder of the History of the Portuguese press would influence O Comércio do Porto and O Primeiro de Janeiro, the newspaper of reference in the North of the country. Also stand out the names of Silva Graça and Pereira da Rosa, personalities behind O Século, which would also follow DN’s editorial line.



Eduardo Coelho would be forever linked as an entrepreneur of the media and of journalism in the eighteenth hundred Portuguese society. Avenida da Liberdade in Lisboa is the stage of the legacy that the founder left in the Portuguese press.