The Maidstone Journal was a local paper circulating in Kent. In the period roughly before 1820 there was another local paper based on Canterbury; to the southwest there was another paper based on Lewes, and to the northwest papers based on London. These local papers only competed marginally and therefore borrowed freely from each other. The Maidstone Journal was a broadsheet; the internal side carried national and international news and the external side carried local news and advertisements. There were no reporters and information was suppled from other journals, letters, advertisements, etc. The paper came out once a week.
From about 1820 things began to change. The paper became more political and news was seen through the eyes of a particular set of principles. From time to time reporters were sent to report on events, mostly of a political nature. Many more papers started up and there was fierce competition. For instance in 1834 there was a report as follows: "There are at present seven Kent newspapers published weekly, the Kentish Observer, a high church and state paper, conducted with distinguished ability; the Kentish Gazette, an equally high Tory; the Kentish Chronicle, a staunch Whig of the old school; the Kent Herald, an ultra Radical; the Maidstone Journal, of moderate Tory principles; the Maidstone Gazette, a moderate Radical; and the Greenwich Gazette, a conservative Whig. Two London papers also published editions respectively at Gravesend and Dover".
In 1836 circulation figures were published as follows: Maidstone Journal (1786) 902, Maidstone Gazette (1815) 697, Greenwich Gazette (1833) 279.
The number of advertisements increased and to create greater capacity the type became clearer and smaller and there were more columns. In the 1840s the proportion of local news was much greater and there were professional reporters who were sent to report on meetings, events and trials. The proportion of national and foreign news diminished.
From 1844 the paper was known as the "Maidstone Journal, Kentish Advertiser and South East Intelligenser". Its market was the more conservative and landowning elements in the population who collectively were worth more to advertisers than the more radical but poorer elements.