Academic journal article Rural Society

The Role of Special Edition Editorials in Forging and Maintaining Links between Newspapers and the Communities They Serve

Academic journal article Rural Society

The Role of Special Edition Editorials in Forging and Maintaining Links between Newspapers and the Communities They Serve

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Nineteenth-century Australia has a strong history of newspaper development, as the research of scholars like Kirkpatrick (2000, 2011) and Cryle (1990) attests. Throughout the various colonies newspapers regularly commenced - and in some cases just as quickly closed. Others, however, managed to flourish and grow with the communities they represented. The reason why some newspapers succeeded while others failed cannot be attributed to one factor, and must be analysed on a case-by-case-basis - a task which is well beyond the remit of this paper (for further reading on the economics of newspapers, see the prolific writings of Robert Picard). However, one thing becomes clear very early when looking at the histories of the successful newspapers: they succeeded because they were able to connect with the people of the communities they sought to represent. Equally, they were able to adapt to the changing needs and interests of these communities. This they achieved in a number of ways, including staving offcompetition when it emerged (by proving that their product was better or more relevant, by absorbing the competition, or by merging with any rivals to make a stronger newspaper with a broader subscriber base).

This is particularly evident in the two case studies which are the focus of this particular paper. During the late nineteenth century, Darwin, now the largest population centre in the Northern Territory, and the settlement around Burnie on Tasmania's north-west coast were pioneer communities. Darwin had been established in 1869 by George Woodroffe Goyder, South Australia's Surveyor General of Lands (Flinders Ranges Research, n.d.). Originally part of New South Wales, in 1863 the Northern Territory was granted to South Australia by a proclamation signed by Queen Victoria and in 1911 responsibility was taken over by the Commonwealth Government. (NT Parliament, n.d.). Self government was granted to the territory on July 1, 1978 (NT Parliament, n.d.). Darwin's development was inspired by the desire of South Australian pastoralists to gain more land - a push which began in 1858 (Flinders Ranges Research, n.d.). In the early days Darwin's population was small. According to Census data, there were 407 people living there in 1881, 872 in 1891, and 864 in 1901. By 1911, the population had increased to 3271. Early census data did not include Indigenous people (National Archives of Australia, n.d.).

Likewise, Tasmania, known as Van Diemen's Land to 1855, had once been a part of New South Wales, before being granted self government in 1856 (Townsley, 1956). Initially the focus had been on the major centres at Port Dalrymple (now Launceston), in the north, and Hobart Town (now Hobart), in the south. Tasmania's north-west coast was relatively sparsely populated during the late nineteenth century, although it had been first explored early in the century. Its economic development began with the establishment of the Van Diemen's Land Company in 1824 (Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service, n.d.). In 1826, the company was granted the equivalent of 1000 square kilometres of land at Circular Head on the far north-west coast to provide wool for British textile mills. In the 1840s the main population centre on the coast, Emu Bay, was renamed Burnie, in recognition of the contribution of one of the directors of the Van Diemen's Land Company (Tasmanian Communities Online, n.d.).

During the late nineteenth century, the region was provided with an economic boost in the form of major west coast mineral discoveries, including silver and lead at Mt Zeehan in 1885, gold and copper at Mt Lyell in 1886, tin at Renison Bell in 1890, copper, lead and zinc at Rosebery in 1893- 1894 and silver at Mt Lyell in 1893 (Education Department, Tasmania, n.d.). These discoveries, and the development of the VDL Company and other agricultural enterprises, led to the establishment of a number of population centres on the north-west and west coasts. …

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