Every year I work through a number of primary sources with my students, reminding them not to make assumptions based on their own experiences and expectations. The following account, for example, written in September 1794, is meant to poke fun at quidnuncs, individuals obsessed with obtaining the latest news, often found reading an egregious number of periodicals at inopportune times.
Zeal for Intelligence.–Early a few mornings ago, in London a man was detected forcing open the door of a public house with an iron crow. Being taken into custody, he urged in his defence, That he only wanted to see the news in the Sun!
—Glasgow Advertiser, 1 September 1794.
Coloured by ongoing debates regarding phone hacking and the ladies of page three, modern readers may find the piece espousing a very different message.