Ankh-Morpork Times

From Discworld & Terry Pratchett Wiki

Jump to: navigation, search

Motto: The Truth shall make Ye Free, more or less.

The Ankh-Morpork Times was the first mass-produced, cheap-enough-for-everyone newspaper on the Sto Plains, quite possibly also the first for the entire Discworld.

The Times offices and printing presses are located in Gleam Street.

The Times is now a far-reaching newspaper, reporting even wars in Borogravia, and commenting on which country was the aggressor, which was attacked without good reason, and what sorts of refugees will be showing up in Ankh-Morpork. Many ordinary Ankh-Morporkian citizens buy the Times every day, not because they have particular things of which they want to be kept informed, but because they are interested in news of, in Miss Cripslock's words, human interest. In a fashion similar to the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, the Times is able to upset powerful people by finding out about things. Powerful people here include Commander Vimes of the City Watch, although he doesn't like to think of himself as such. The Times also publishes readers' letters of opinions, including the more extreme Views. The Times runs an advertisement column as well, for things such as humorously-shaped vegetables, any man looking for his lost watch, and so on. The cartoons in the Times are a common identifying feature of Punch, a magazine popular in the late 19th/early 20th Century.

It also has a crossword section as well as a game that suspiciously resembles Roundworld Sudoku. Vetinari is an avid follower of the crossword and does the Jikan no Muda in his head, but sneers at the fact that numbers can't fool you like a cunning word such as pysdxes could.

History

For quite a few years, young William de Worde had been writing a one-sheet newsletter, one edition per month, which he sent to foreign dignitaries who wanted to keep up with the happenings in Ankh-Morpork. Clients included: Lady Margolotta von Überwald, the Duke of Sto Helit, King Verence II of Lancre, the Seriph of Al Khali, and possibly others. Each paid him five dollars a month (except for the Seriph of Al Khali, who sent him half a cart of figs twice a year). This newsletter was produced by William writing the newsletter carefully, tracing it onto a block of boxwood, and paying old Mr Cripslock (grandfather of Sacharissa) to engrave the boxwood so the words could be printed on a few sheets of paper. This newsletter was expensive because of this difficulty in production, and because William had not been able to grasp the idea of expanding the market.

One night, William met Mr. Goodmountain & Co. who were bringing into Ankh-Morpork a printing press, with little metal letters that could be arranged together to print something and then taken apart for future use. Movable type had been banned in Ankh-Morpork for several reasons, and people had always paid high rates to the engravers (who, like many other professions, had a guild).

The wizards of Unseen University were worried that metal letters used to print a book about magic might carry some of the magic to the next things they print, maybe a cookbook, and that would be real trouble. (Indeed, the wizards have since set up the Unseen University Press to capitalise on moveable type, and have discovered this sort of fear was too well-founded...)

The more conservative members of the Engraver's Guild have Views on the subject, and so far had objected to any implementation within the Guild. In addition, the act of printing itself is generally considered solely the domain of the guild. The last person who set up a printing press found it destroyed in a mysterious fire, and subsequently committed suicide. (At least, there was a suicide note. The fact that this was engraved onto the head of a pin was of minor importance.)

Lord Vetinari, the Patrician, felt that information was too valuable to be spread everywhere; he was certain that knowing too much would only upset people.

Vetinari ended up ordering William to oversee the press. Mr. Goodmountain taught William how to lower the price so more people could afford the newspaper. After a few struggles with various business competitors and shadowy figures whose underhanded dealings were being investigated by William for news-reporting purposes, the Ankh-Morpork Times became an established business and a regular, daily newspaper. More reporters were hired.

Sometimes, William uses the clacks to get news from the other cities or confirm the nonexistence of mythical news such as Lancre woman gives birth to snake. William firmly believes that many of the things reported to him are made up, things such as heir to the throne of Ankh-Morpork is working as a Watchman or there is a werewolf in the City Watch. William changed his view on the latter piece after meeting Corporal Nobby Nobbs, a completely misdirected suspicion, though it'd be hard to imagine Nobby as entirely human either.

  • Interestingly enough, this was presaged by the entry on William de Worde in the very first edition of the Discworld Companion (pub. 1994). This was published quite some time before The Truth (pub. 2000), and managed to drop a very big hint that William would be a key player in a forthcoming Discworld book. TP's actual words in the 1994 edition were:-

It could well be that the future holds great things for young de Worde...

Staff

Personal tools
In other languages