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Gone and (largely) forgotten

British Journalism Review
Vol. 17, No. 2, 2006, pages 50-52

Contents - Vol 17, No 2, 2006

Editorial - Listen to the Lord 3

Bill Hagerty - Kinnock: Where Clarke was right 7

Close-up on the BBC
Will Wyatt - Stand up and be counted 15

Michael White - Grumpy Humpy should bow out 21

Tim Luckhurst - Sabotaging a star 27

Francis Jezierski - Unequal war of the web 33

Jane Brown - Fast stalker 39

Roger Bolton - Mind your language 44

British Museum - Gone and (largely) forgotten 50

Stephen Bax - Beware the press in times of war 53

John Campbell - Why papers of record are history 59

Stewart Purvis - Clean sweep in the Ukraine 65

Anthony Delano on Dennis Griffiths 70

Martyn Gregory on Patricia Holland 72

Michael Leapman on Angela V John 74

Liz Vercoe on Julia Hobsbawm 76

Martin Rowson on Mark Bryant 78

The way we were 32

  The centenary of the Newspaper Publishers' Association is not receiving quite the attention given to the Queen's 80th birthday, but it's a close-run thing. A British Library exhibition, Front Page: Celebrating 100 Years of the British Newspaper (1906-2006) and featuring a remarkable display of front pages from the 150,000-strong collection of newspaper enthusiast John Frost, runs until October 8. In addition, the Library is organising debates and workshops and publishing both Fleet Street: Five Hundred Years of the Press, by Dennis Griffiths (reviewed on page 70) and the Newspaper Headlines Quiz Book.

As a celebration of the trade, all this is admirable and most welcome in an era when the reputation of the press has been battered and bruised, often by self-inflicted punishment. But the display of front pages serves to remind us that newspapers are fragile entities with no God-given right to survival. Some of the finest print journalism is preserved only in library or collectors' copies of papers that long since discovered that the yellow brick road led not to a magical castle, but to oblivion.

The half-dozen defunct titles shown here represent only a small percentage of those that have fallen by the wayside during the past 100 years. A previous Griffiths' book, The Encyclopedia of the British Press, records that since 1900 more than two dozen titles have been closed, or merged with papers that failed to survive. There have also been a number of successful – so far – launches, including the Daily Star, The Sunday Telegraph, The Independent and Independent on Sunday and David Sullivan's Sunday Sport. But for those papers that perished, the Street of Adventure runs not with ink, but with blood.

DAILY CHRONICLE: Launched in 1856 as a local weekly in Clerkenwell, London, it became a daily 13 years later as the London Daily Chronicle and Clerkenwell News. It was sold in 1918 to Lloyd George and a Liberal syndicate for £1,600,000, causing editor Robert Donald to resign. On June 2, 1930 it was merged with the Daily News as the News Chronicle, which commanded a large liberal audience until October 1960 when, together with the London evening Star, it was infamously sold by the Cadbury family to Associated Newspapers and promptly folded into the Daily Mail (and the Star into the London Evening News). With such star writers as James Cameron, Ian Mackay and Richie Calder on its staff, the paper was selling more than 1,116,000 each day when hauled off to the glue factory.

DAILY SKETCH: Edward Hulton Jnr founded this lively title in Manchester in 1909 and it began printing in London three years later. Lord Beaverbrook bought it in 1923 and with typical sleight-of-hand shuffled it on to Lord Rothermere. The Berry Brothers, William and Gomer – later respectively Lords Camrose and Kemsley – gained control shortly afterwards and folded it into their Daily Graphic in 1946, but in 1953 the second Lord Rothermere bought and revived the title. It survived as part of Associated Newspapers until 1971, when it was merged into the Daily Mail with Sketch editor David English taking over the helm of the flagship paper.

EMPIRE NEWS: Formerly The Umpire, this Manchester-based Sunday title was bought by Edward Hulton Jnr in 1917. When the Hulton empire was sold to Lord Beaverbrook and then – with the exception of the Evening Standard – onsold to Lord Rothermere, the Empire Newswas part of the package. With its sister titles it became part of Camrose and Kemsley's Allied Northern Newspapers, later Kemsley Newspapers, and in 1955 the Sunday Chronicle was merged with Empire News. In 1959 Kemsley sold out to the Canadian Roy Thomson, who closed the Empire News the following year.

NEWS ON SUNDAY: A number of trades unions and other Labour supporters raised £6.5million to start a left-wing mass-circulation Sunday and it was launched under a co-operative structure and with the advertising pitch “No tits but a lot of balls” on April 26, 1987. Editor-designate John Pilger left before the launch, to be replaced by Keith Sutton, but the paper fell 300,000 short of its target daily circulation of 800,000 and by its eighth issue was selling only 200,000. Propped up so it could cover the June general election – Margaret Thatcher won for a third time – it went bankrupt immediately afterwards and closed down. A rescue bid by controversial businessman Owen Oyston revived it briefly but the paper closed for good on November 20.

REYNOLDS NEWS: Launched and edited on May 5, 1850 by the radical George William MacArthur Reynolds, Reynolds's Weekly Newspaper was an immediate success and by 1870 was selling more than 350,000. After Reynolds's death in 1879, he was succeeded by his brother, Edward, who edited the paper until his own death in 1894. Subsequently owned by MP and former reporter Sir Henry Dalziel and known for a while as Reynolds's Illustrated News, the paper was taken over by the Co-operative Press, a subsidiary of the Co-operative Party, in 1929. Relaunched in 1962 in tabloid format as the Sunday Citizen, it ceased publication in 1967.

SUNDAY CORRESPONDENT: With its first issue dated September 17, 1989, this broadsheet billed itself as the first new, quality broadsheet to be launched in 28 years. Despite impressing many other journalists, it struggled from the start and editor Peter Cole was replaced by John Bryant, now editor-in-chief at the Telegraph group. Relaunched as Britain's first quality tabloid on August 20, 1990, it was perceived to lack glamour and personality and, hampered by the appearance of the Independent on Sunday eight months earlier, its death notice was issued on November 27, 1990.