Current Literature, January, 1903, pages 2-3:
Some persons, doubtless, have been surprised that the Austrians have stolen a match upon us and have earned the credit of inaugurating the Telephone Newspaper. Such is the claim of Budapest, the capital of Hungary. The newspaper, says Pearson's Magazine, is called the Telefon-Hirmondo, or Telephone News-teller, and is a journal with all the equipment of a first-class newspaper. It has 7,000 subscribers in a population of 700,000, and carries the news of the world into the very homes of these subscribers at a cost of two cents per day. The transmission is effected by six "stentors" sitting in the editorial rooms, who, with strong, clear voices, speak carefully edited news of all the various kinds that fill the best daily journals, with advertisements interspersed between interesting items. From eight o'clock in the morning until eleven at night the News-teller is at work, the stentors relieving each other at intervals of ten minutes.
An examination of the daily programme shows that from 9 A. M. until 4.30 P. M., the time is divided into periods of generally half an hour, and that during each of these some subject, announced at the beginning of the day's work, is the sole topic of the stentor. At 4.30, however, there follows a concert of regimental bands, lasting two hours. From 7 P. M. to 9.30 P. M. is given to opera, a quarter of an hour after the first act being devoted to the latest intelligence, both foreign and domestic. Twice in the day astronomical time is announced.
There can be no doubt that such an institution is a marvelous novelty, interesting in its inception and its working, valuable to many who, for various reasons, cannot read the daily journals or visit the theater or opera. To such, as well as to the sick, the blind, persons who have to wait in doctors' offices, at barbers, at restaurants, etc., the telephone newspaper must certainly be a boon. As far as its general utility as a disseminator of news is concerned, however, it has its drawbacks. Busy men will not care to wait for a certain hour for a certain portion of the day's intelligence, when a short glance at a printed journal will give it in a moment. Granted that the telephone news-teller will transmit its news occasionally, several hours before the newspapers can reach readers, the business man will still ask: Is the game worth the candle?
As a curiosity, undoubtedly, the Telefon-Hirmondo is a noteworthy achievement and a striking indication of the progressive character of the days in which we live. But, although it is a boon to the few, it could scarcely suffice for the hurry and bustle of the practical life of our large cities. This probably is the reason why America, as yet, cannot boast of a similar news-teller. It may be questioned, also, whether the entertainment part of the Telefon-Hirmondo's programme while extremely valuable for those confined at home, would be found to be popular with the many for whom a large part of the pleasure frequently lies in the concomitants of the music. We are interested in the success of such an experiment, but not jealous of Budapest.