The Sun News-Pictorial
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The Sun News-Pictorial was part of The Herald and Weekly Times stable of Melbourne newspapers. For more than fifty years it was the newspaper with the largest circulation in Australia.
Along with its extensive coverage of Australian Rules football (for example, it was responsible for the competition that produced the original VFL/AFL team songs) The Sun News-Pictorial distinguished itself with its photography, columns and cartoons. Its longest running column was A Place in the Sun, originally written by Keith Dunstan—founder of the Anti-Football League—and later Graeme "Jacko" Johnstone. The award-winning cartoonist Geoff "Jeff" Hook became the full-time cartoonist for The Sun in 1964.
Keith Murdoch became editor-in-chief of The Herald in January 1921. When the proprietor of the Sydney Sun tried to break into the Melbourne market in 1922 with the launch of The Evening Sun and The Sun News-Pictorial, Murdoch fought a long campaign which eventually resulted in The Herald and Weekly Times, with the circulation of The Herald up by 50%, taking over the two tabloids in 1925. Murdoch closed the afternoon rival The Evening Sun. In 1928, Murdoch became managing director of the HWT, by which time The Sun News-Pictorial was on its way to becoming Australia's highest-selling newspaper.
The Sun News-Pictorial's main competitors were the broadsheets, The Argus and The Age. The Argus was a morning daily newspaper in Melbourne that had been published since 1846 and was considered to be the general Australian newspaper of record for this period. Widely known as a conservative newspaper for most of its history, it adopted a left leaning approach from 1949, but which was closed in 1957.
The other competitor over the life of the newspaper was the more liberal-minded The Age, a daily newspaper that had been published in Melbourne since 1854. David Syme became sole proprietor of the paper in 1891, and built it up into Victoria's leading newspaper. In circulation, it soon overtook its rivals The Herald and The Argus, and by 1890 it was selling 100,000 copies a day, making it one of the world's most successful newspapers. However, Syme's will prevented the sale of any equity in the paper during his sons' lifetimes, an arrangement designed to protect family control but which had the effect of starving the paper of investment capital for 40 years. As a result The Age failed to modernise, and gradually lost market share to The Argus and The Sun News-Pictorial, although its classified advertisement sections kept the paper profitable. By the 1940s, the paper's circulation was smaller than it had been in 1900, and its political influence also declined. Although it remained more liberal than the extremely conservative Argus, it lost much of its distinct political identity. In 1942, David Syme's last surviving son, Oswald Syme, took over the paper. He modernised the paper's appearance and standards of news coverage (removing classified advertisements from the front page and introducing photographs, long after other papers had done so). In 1948, convinced the paper needed outside capital, he persuaded the courts to overturn his father's will and floated David Syme and Co. as a public company, selling 400,000 pounds worth of shares, enabling a badly needed technical modernisation of the newspaper's production.
The Sun News-Pictorial became the highest-circulating daily in Australia, and at times the world, outselling its rivals three to one. One very substantial reason for its high level of daily sales was that The Sun News-Pictorial offered a free life-insurance policy to each of those who subscribed for regular daily home delivery of the newspaper (i.e., rather than those who bought it spasmodically from street vendors or newsagents), and the insurance policy (valued at somewhere near 12 months average wages) was current for the duration of that household's subscription.
On 8 October 1990, The Sun News-Pictorial was merged with its longer running sister paper, The Herald, an evening paper which had a 150-year history in Melbourne, to form the Herald-Sun.
Notable journalists, columnists and editors
- "Here and There". Taralga Echo. NSW: National Library of Australia. 2 May 1925. p. 1. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
- "Sir Lloyd Dumas to retire.". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 9 March 1967. p. 39. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
- Hirst, John; Suter, Geraldine, eds. (2012). "Index to the Melbourne Argus newspaper (for the period 1870-1889)". La Trobe University. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
- Message to Argus readers from The Sun News-Pictorial The Argus, final edition, 19 January 1957 at Trove
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