The paper was originally printed as a monthly publication by the League of Communists of Croatia starting in 1940. During World War II, while Croatia was under occupation of Nazi Germany, the paper served as the primary media publication of the Partisan resistance movement. The August 1941 edition of the paper featured the statement "Smrt fašizmu, sloboda narodu" (transl. "Death to fascism, freedom to the people") which was afterwards accepted as the official slogan of the entire resistance movement and was often quoted in post-war Yugoslavia.
In 1990, after Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia, Vjesnik came under the control of Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), the ruling Croatian party. Starting at that time, Vjesnik was seen as taking a pro-government editorial stance, even changing its name in 1992 to Novi Vjesnik (novi means new) in an attempt to distance itself from any perceived resemblance to the previous communist government newspaper. The name, however, proved to be unpopular and was changed back that same year.
Recent years saw a sharp drop in average daily circulation, from 21,348 in 1997 to 9,660 in 2005, down from over 100,000 in 1960.