|Format||Broadsheet & compact|
|Owner(s)||Derry Journal Newspapers|
|Founded||16 June 1919|
|Headquarters||Letterkenny, County Donegal|
|Circulation||Tuesday: 5,855; Thursday: 7,684 |
The Donegal Democrat is a twice-weekly local newspaper, covering County Donegal, Ireland. The paper was traditionally based in the town of Ballyshannon in the south of the county, but now has offices in Donegal Town (southern edition) and Letterkenny (northern edition). The Donegal Democrat is the largest paper focused solely on County Donegal, and its current editor is Michelle Daly. The paper was the only one published in south Donegal from the mid-twentieth century on, and so has gained a reputation of being the local paper of record for that part of the county. Its main rivals in the north of the county are its stable-mate, the Derry Journal as well as the Letterkenny Post, and the Donegal Post and Finn Valley Post in the south.
Since its launch, the paper has been published weekly on a Thursday in broadsheet format, and in recent years has become part of a chain of titles that are published three times per week in the county. The paper is now almost entirely integrated with the Donegal People's Press, a paper published on Tuesdays in a compact format. The People's Press was traditionally a north Donegal paper and so, with minor alterations, is published as a Tuesday edition of the Donegal Democrat in the south of the county.
In March 2004, the Sunday Democrat was launched as an edition of the Sunday Journal, it changed its name later that year to Donegal on Sunday and is still the only local newspaper published in Ireland on a Sunday. The Donegal Democrat group is owned by Johnston Press through the holding company Derry Journal Newspapers, who publish several other titles in counties Donegal and Londonderry.
The paper was first published on 16 June 1919 and was founded by John Downey.
The editorial in the first issue set out that it was to be a "non-political paper in a world of politics, but we believed that in doing so we are doing right. We are making our bow to the public at a critical period in our national and local history and it shall be ever our object to uphold anything that, will further the national and local interests."
The paper had a fairly militant, nationalist policy, which, during the Irish War of Independence, led to it being raided on several occasions by police and British soldiers, who on one occasion announced that they were looking for a "typewriting machine". But they left on being assured that there was no such machine on the premises.
For its first years, the paper was completely hand set, with each letter of type being placed individually; it was not surprising therefore that there were only 10 pages, measuring 9 inches by 11 inches. Its front page contained mostly adverts, with no photos in the paper at all. Over the next few years the paper gradually increased in size and circulation, and in 1922 got its first typesetting machine.
In 1995, the paper was bought by the Derry Journal group which in turn became part of Trinity Mirror. In 2004 the paper was purchased by the 3i holding company Local Press Ltd, and changed hands again in 2005, when Johnston Press took over Local Press. It is now part of the Derry Journal Newspapers holding company
Both the Tuesday and Thursday editions of the paper share many common features and columns such as 'Gabrielle's Diary', a society column which sees the column's writer Gabrielle McMonagle, attend local charity and social events; an agricultural page entitled 'Farming Week'; a special section called 'Letterkenny in Focus', looking at developments in the county's largest town; local notes for the various towns and villages in the county; death, birth and marriage announcements; and job, motor and property sections in partnership with the Irish sections of the Johnston Press owned websites, 'Jobs Today', 'Motors Today' and 'Property Today'.
The Tuesday edition (available as the Donegal People's Press in the north of the county), is in compact format and is seventy-two pages with full colour; through its features, it is a little less 'rigid' than the Thursday paper. It contains a seven-day TV guide, a weekly contribution from the youth media website 'Spun Out', and columnists such as 'Pat's Patch' by Pat McArt.
The Thursday paper, which is available throughout the county, is a broadsheet in two sections, each of which are twenty-four pages in size, twenty of which are in colour. It includes feature's such as 'Mind Yourself', a series of stories on mental health supported by the HSE, as well as an environmental contribution from Donegal County Council and a women's section compiled by the 'Donegal Women's Network'. It also includes a series of columnists and editorials including 'It Occurs To Me' by Frank Galigan, and the 'Thursday Interview', where high profile local figures discuss important issues with the paper's journalists. The Big Donegal Weekend was launched On 6 March 2008. This paper comes free with the Democrat and includes features on topics such as entertainment, shopping, property, lifestyle.
Sport stories form an important part of the newspaper, and coverage is given in both titles to the local GAA league and championship as well as Donegal's involvement in inter-county competitions. Soccer is also quite prominent, including the local leagues, and the progress of Finn Harps, the only professional team in the county. Other sports regularly covered include golf, basketball and athletics.
Circulation has been on the decline in recent years. It had a combined ABC circulation for its Tuesday and Thursday editions of 23,792, for the first half of 2007. Circulation declined, for the Tuesday edition, to an average of 5,855 copies per day, for the period July 2012 to December 2012, this was a decline of 12% on a year-on-year basis. Circulation declined, for the Thursday edition, to an average of 7,684 copies per day, for the period July 2012 to December 2012, this was a decline of 16% on a year-on-year basis.
The paper also has a website, however it does not make its editions available online like some of its other competitors (such as the Donegal News), and stories are not regularly updated. The website is in the same format as all other titles owned by the Johnston Press group.