Social Media in the 1700s: How Joseph Addison used a golden lion's mouth to help report the news

With the growth of social media platforms continuing and more and more people sharing their every day lives, IMP Media took a step back 300 years to show that the phenomenon is nothing new.

During SXSW in Austin Texas, IMP Media recreated a gold lions head that was originally unveiled by Joseph Addison in 1713 in a London coffee shop asking people to contribute to his daily paper, The Guardian.

Just like modern day media, the coffee houses were plagued with reports of fake news. Addison asked that only 'wholesome and substantial food' would be fed to the lion, meaning he only wanted truthful news to report.

IMP Media co-founder, Tony Cuthbertson said Addison Addison was eager to find and print truthful life stories

"It is really significant in the history of news because the lion was the first time people could contribute directly into stories that then found themselves in print and the newspapers," he told The Drum. "We love that parallel and the analogy with social media.

"Lots of people are now talking about real news and fake news and we think it is amazing that you can go back 300 years and people were contributing all the kinds of stories you see these days. It was really the first time in history that these stories came together in one place."

Explaining that the newspaper kept its broadsheet approach to stories with "intellectual essays and columns", Cuthbertson explains how it was in fact gossip and "tittle tattle" that was fed into the lion.

Interestingly, the original coffee house that homed the lions head is now a Starbucks, a modern version of a place people go with friends to catch up with gossip and stories however now both online and offline.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.