Monday, 23 November 2015

1990: The birth of Sydney's 24 hour newspaper - The Daily Telegraph Mirror

You can probably tell in this blog, that I have a liking for newspapers and this entry is about the newspapers themselves.

In 2015, newspapers are a 24/7 product thanks to the rise of digital technologies like the internet and tablet computers, which allow you to download and view the latest news as they happen around the world.

But there is a step that links the publication of news in the traditional print format with that of today, the birth of the 24-hour newspaper.

So what did this mean in 1990? It was simply about bringing out editions of a newspaper throughout the day and dispensing with publishing a newspaper either in the morning or afternoon.

For decades, Sydneysiders woke up to either The Daily Telegraph, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian or The Australian Financial Review (Still that way in 2015).  For those who wanted to read the news of the day on the way home, there was either The Sun or The Daily Mirror.

But times were changing. As Sydney grew, more found themselves driving to work, taking away that opportunity to sit and read a newspaper while commuting either to or from work. The bigger threat was the rise of television. People could simply watch the days events visually and the news was often fresher.  The news was becoming live. You didn't have to wait for the next morning to find out what had happened during the day.

At the start of October 1990, Rupert Murdoch made a major announcement concerning his major papers in Sydney and Melbourne. In Melbourne, The Sun News Pictorial and The Herald would combine to form The Herald-Sun. In Sydney, The Daily Telegraph would merge with The Daily Mirror to form The Daily Telegraph Mirror. Murdoch also announced plans to build new printers in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide that would allow colour printing. It was anticipated that this would be done by 1992, but it was not until 1994 that colour became a routine part of The Daily Telegraph Mirror. 

The reasons given by Murdoch and News Corp were simple:
  • Fall in advertising revenue, particularly for The Daily Mirror. Advertisers preferred the all-day exposure that a morning newspaper could offer. 
  • Circulation growth for The Daily Mirror following the closure of The Sun in 1988 did not materialise. However, it did sell more copies than The Daily Telegraph - 360 000 compared to 280 000.
  • Consolidate News Limited at the forefront of newspaper publishing.
The final edition of The Daily Mirror was published on Friday, October 5, 1990.

As for The Daily Telegraph, its final edition was October 6, 1990.

October 8 saw the first editions of The Daily Telegraph Mirror roll off the press. the leading story on Page 1 was Kerry Packer's heart attack from the day before which saw him clinically dead for six minutes. There was also a short feature and photo to celebrate the launch of the newspaper.

 At Broadway, The Sydney Morning Herald took interest in the merger. Two years earlier, its afternoon paper The Sun was axed due to falling circulation. It reported on the decision by the newly merged paper to provide those on the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Illawarra regions with country editions, instead of metro editions as they did with The Daily Telegraph. They would also miss out on afternoon editions. However initial sales were reported to be strong particularly the afternoon and evening editions.

On January 2, 1996, readers awoke to the news that the "Mirror" had been removed from the masthead and the paper was reverted to The Daily Telegraph. The only difference now was that the paper was still a 24-hour paper. On January 25, 2002, the final afternoon edition was published citing that growth in afternoon sales was not as strong as morning sales. 

But I will recall as a teen that the final edition came out at 1:30pm in the final years of afternoon editions, which wouldn't have covered the news effectively for those reading on the way home (and only available in the Sydney CBD). Late editions from what I am aware were out at 4pm. How could you maintain the growth of afternoon editions if the material was little changed from the morning editions? As of September 2015, approximately 256 000 copies were published daily in print form, while thousands more view the paper on mobile devices (like yours truly who has a teacher subscription to The Daily Telegraph, alongside his home delivery of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Weekend Australian). 

A front page of The Daily Telegraph in September 2015

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