‘The Glasgow Herald’ newspaper was first published on the 27th of January, 1783.
‘The Glasgow Herald’ newspaper is the longest continuously published daily newspaper in Britain and one of (if not) the world’s oldest continuously published English language newspapers. The paper was first published from Duncan’s Land, Gibson’s Wynd, in Glasgow, on the 27th of January, 1783, under the title of the ‘Glasgow Advertiser’. It changed title, briefly, to the ‘Herald and Advertiser and Commercial Chronicle’ in 1803, before being re-titled the ‘Glasgow Herald’ on the 26th of August, 1804. It became a daily paper in 1859 and, in 1895, publication moved to a Charles Rennie Mackintosh building in Mitchell Street. Almost a century later, on the 19th of July, 1980, the paper moved to offices in Albion Street. Twelve years after that, in recognition of the need to portray a broader, all-Scotland appeal, and on the 3rd of February, 1992, it became ‘The Herald’.
Today, ‘The Herald’ and its sister publications in the company’s newspaper division, the ‘Evening Times’ and ‘Sunday Herald’, are owned by the Herald & Times Group, which is one of Scotland’s oldest and most successful media companies. In its turn, The Herald & Times Group, the former publishing arm of the Scottish Media Group, an organization that was formerly known as Scottish Television, which bought Caledonian Newspapers in 1996, the result of a management buyout of ‘The Herald’ in May of 1992, is owned by Newsquest, one of the UK’s biggest newspaper and website publishers, and a division of Gannett. The group’s printing press at Cambuslang, just outside Glasgow, is one of the most efficient in the UK and produces more than 300,000 newspapers every day.
Contrasting with ‘The Herald’, which is a very old newspaper, the ‘Sunday Herald’ is Scotland’s youngest, being ‘born’ as recently as 1999. The boastful slogan of the ‘Evening Times’ is that “no one knows Glasgow better” – which just might be justified. Other ‘Herald Group’ publications include ‘The Scottish Farmer’ magazine and the popular, outdoor specialist publication ‘TGO’, and once a quarter, the ‘Scottish Review of Books’ is published as a supplement in a Saturday edition of the paper. Glasgow’s ‘The Herald’ is a broadsheet newspaper, which competes with Scotland’s other ‘quality’ national daily from Edinburgh, ‘The Scotsman’.
The ownership of the ‘Glasgow Herald’ changed frequently during the 19th Century, but it was always owned by a collection of local businessmen and lawyers, along with some of the leading managers of the paper. Its first editor was John Mennons. Samuel Hunter, editor from 1803 to 1836, was a surgeon with military experience and it was he who established the ‘Glasgow Herald’ as the leading Glasgow paper in an intensely competitive marketplace in the early part of the 19th Century. By the 1850s, all its older rivals had folded.
Hunter’s successor, George Outram, editor from 1836 to 1856, was an advocate who dabbled in verse. James Pagan, editor from 1856 to 1870, was the first professional journalist to be appointed as editor, and under his guidance, news coverage was widened and editorial material increased. Pagan was followed by the academic, Professor William Jack, 1870 to 1875, then by James Stoddart, 1875 to 1888, and by Charles Russell, from 1888 to 1907, with the latter two being, like Pagan, trained journalists. Both Stoddart and Russell greatly improved the paper’s literary and artistic sections. Its editors have also included some very famous names, in reality mere namesakes, such as William Wallace and Robert Bruce, and, for real, for a period in 1964 as acting editor, George MacDonald Fraser.
The politics of the ‘Glasgow Herald’ shifted this way and that between Tory and Whig in the early days. Under Hunter, the paper was staunchly Tory, opposing the demand for the ‘First Reform Act’, but afterwards, it developed mild Whig tendencies. It supported the first Scottish nationalist movement in the early and mid-1850s, but it continued to be moderately Liberal until Gladstone’s ‘Irish Home Bill’ of 1886, which it strenuously opposed. Thereafter, the paper became an eloquent advocate of Liberal Unionism.
One of the interesting characters associated with the paper is Alexander Sinclair, who rose to become a managing partner and introduced many innovations. Sinclair was born in Campbeltown, in 1828, and arrived in Glasgow, in 1843, to complete his education. He joined the ‘Herald’ in 1845 after answering an advertisement for a boy clerk, in which position he was the first employed by the company. Sinclair rose to become a managing partner by successive stages; from Clerk, to Keeper of the Petty Cash, to Cashier, and then Manager of the Commercial and Publishing Departments. Under Sinclair’s stewardship, the Linotype composing machine was introduced, by which an operator using a keyboard could set, cast, and deliver in lines, upwards of seven thousand letters per hour.
These days, an on-line, electronic version of ‘The Herald’ provides a daily round of news and sports coverage as well as a business section and a selection of feature articles, and the ‘Evening Times’ is also on-line. However, up to date technical innovations were not confined to those of the 21st Century. Back in the 19th Century, in 1845, when Alexander Sinclair joined the ‘Herald’, it had one printing press, wrought by two men, turning out 400 copies per hour. By 1909, largely thanks to improvements made under Sinclair’s management, it had nine presses driven by electric motors, one of which alone could print, fold, and deliver 1,000 complete ‘Heralds’ in six minutes, with the paper consumed by a morning issue running to 126 miles worth. In 1845, the electric telegraph was unknown for newspaper purposes, but revolutionary technical innovations and journalistic improvements consolidated the paper’s dominance when, in 1868, it became one of only two British papers with telegraphic wires going directly into its offices. That same year, the paper also introduced new ‘Hoe’ presses and, in 1875, it installed rotary presses.
In 1845, a copy of the ‘Herald’ cost 4½d, largely due to the ‘knowledge tax’, which meant a penny stamp on every printed copy, sold or unsold, three halfpence per pound on every kind of paper, and eighteen pence on every advertisement. Thanks to successive legislation in 1853, 1855 and 1861, the entire newspaper industry became duty free and the price of the ‘Herald’ was reduced to 1d when it was made daily, in 1859.