The London Gazette is the official newspaper of record in the United Kingdom. Other official newspapers of record in UK include the Belfast Gazette and the Edinburgh Gazette. During the 17th century, the publication of scurrilous rumours in pamphlets was assessed to endanger national security. This created a climate in which the printing of any news not pertaining to the coverage of events aboard, natural disasters, official royal declarations and the most sensationalist of crime reporting was largely prohibited.
The London Gazette started off as a newspaper in the 17th century, but evolved into a chronicle of government notices in the late 19th century. In other words, the London Gazette ceded the newsgathering role to the mainstream media over the years. Now the London Gazette publishes official news such as personal bankruptcy orders.
As a consequence, the British press was an ill-developed and badly defined industry. The introduction of censorship in 1663, together with the licensing of all news publications, did little to encourage the growth of a healthy press.
The London Gazette publishes official notices relating to a number of categories ranging from companies regulation to parliament. It also publishes supplements on subjects such as 'The Queen's Awards for Enterprise.'
The London Gazette provides web access to its editions although latest financial information is restricted to subscribers. In addition, the London Gazette provides online access to old editions dating back to the early 20th century.
Differences between The London Gazette and mainstream newspapers
The London Gazette, published every day from Monday to Friday excluding bank holidays, represents a thriving group of official publications. The growth of mainstream newspapers and news television channels was expected to sound the death knell for official publications such as the London Gazette, but it was not to be. With the press focusing more on topical news, the need for publications that conveyed official news on a regular basis continued. The popular publications, for instance, may cover government news from time to time, but may not do it on a regular basis.
The London Gazette addresses the need for a regular coverage of official news that is at once accurate and detailed. Most governments worldwide publish official gazettes. Now, readers get news from the mainstream media and the finer details from gazettes.
Although the London Gazette publishes official notices relating to a range of subjects, one subject that is popular is financial information relating to corporate insolvency; personal bankruptcy; companies regulation and partnerships and societies regulations. This information is of great use to organisations such as banks and retailers.
The mainstream media may cover the bankruptcy of a major corporation or a celebrity, but may not bother with those of small businesses and ordinary citizens. This information, however, is critical to organisations such as banks and retailers. These organisations, however, do not track official notices, but instead rely on credit reports prepared by credit reference agencies.
A credit report contains information relating to bankruptcies and insolvencies among other issues. If a credit reference agency fails to update its reports, then the possibility of lending to an insolvent company or a bankrupt individual will arise. The London Gazette is one of the sources that credit reference agencies rely on, for providing up-to-date information to their customers such as banks. The London Gazette has parlayed this need for latest information into a business. It provides online access to the financial information in the latest two editions to subscribers only.
The official gazettes continue to be relevant even in this age of information. While coexisting with the mainstream media, the official gazettes have seamlessly adapted to the emergence of web. The rise of information providers such as credit reference agencies has increased the importance of official gazettes. As an authoritative source of official notices, publications such as the London Gazette look in no danger of losing their relevance.