The first issue of HaZvi was published on October 24, 1884. It began as a weekly paper and eventually developed into a daily.
HaZvi revolutionized Hebrew newspaper publishing in Jerusalem by introducing secular issues and techniques of modern journalism, especially after Itamar Ben-Avi, Ben-Yehuda's son, joined the paper. Influenced by the French press, Ben-Avi brought in sensational headlines and a style of reporting that differed from newspapers of the old school. HaZvi became the organ of the New Yishuv (pre-state Jewish community), as the first Jewish agricultural colonies were founded. The paper included translations of French literature (previously only German literature had appeared in translation) and original Hebrew prose. The need for Hebrew words to report the daily news prompted Ben-Yehuda to begin his lifelong project of compiling a Hebrew dictionary. All this fit in with the Hebraist ideology that was on the rise.
In 1908, the name of the paper was changed to HaOr ("The Light") due to licensing restrictions.