A town crier in Kingston, Ontario
Image credit: By Marcus Jeffrey. (Flickr: Kingston Town Crier - July 5, 2009.) [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

This may blow your mind, but…there was a time when news could not be instantly transmitted to billions of people around the world with the click of a button. Before the internet, before TV, before radio, and even before daily newspapers, towns commonly employed someone to go stand in a public place and loudly read whatever breaking news or government edicts the population needed to be made aware of. It was sometimes bad news, but that wasn’t the fault of the person delivering it—hence the phrase “Don’t shoot the messenger.” On the second Monday in July, we hark back to the days when town criers performed an important public service.