The Press Association was founded in 1868 by a group of provincial daily newspaper proprietors in order to provide a fast and accurate news information service to its members.

The abolition of stamp duty and advertisement tax in 1855 brought about a rapid increase in the number of newspapers, with many publishing daily editions. This increase in news output brought a growing dissatisfaction with the often stale and expensive information provided by the telegraph companies.

In forming the Press Association, its founders sought to produce a more accurate and reliable alternative to the monopoly service of the telegraph companies. Through their co-operation, they wanted to provide a London-based service of news-collecting and reporting with correspondents in all the major towns. With enough papers using the new service, they hoped to be able to keep prices as close to cost as possible. An early report stressed a theme that runs through the history of the PA: the value of working together.

A committee appointed to make arrangements for the formation of the company said "the Association is formed on the principle of co-operation and can never be worked for individual profit, or become exclusive in its character'".

More than 130 years later the PA still maintains this structure of ownership and adheres to its original values of speed, accuracy and impartiality. In the UK newspaper and wider media industries of today, the PA's standing and reputation as a national news agency is unmatched.