Freotopia > newspapers

See also separate pages for: the Fremantle Journal (1830), the Fremantle Observer (1831-), the first Fremantle Herald (1867-86), and the second Fremantle Herald (1913-19).
See below for the current Fremantle Herald (1989-), The Era, and The Sentinel.


Battye, Cyclopedia, 1912-13:
The Press of Western Australia
The genesis of journalism in Western Australia is an interesting chapter not only of the history of the Press, but also of the many striking personalities who formed the "Fourth Estate" of the infant Swan River settlement.
Much of the following summary is abstracted from a work by Mr. Edward [Edmund] Stirling, afterwards identified with one of the largest journalistic enterprises in the State. In this little work, A Brief History of Western Australia, we have facts placed before us by one who was contemporaneous with the situations he depicts, and in many respects the work partakes of the nature of an autobiography.
We also learn from a diary kept by Mr. George Fletcher Moore that within a few months of the foundation of the settlement that a copy of a manuscript paper was issued. This paper was published by a man named Gardiner, but its existence seems to have been brief and troubled. This was followed by another manuscript journal published by W K. Shenton at the Gazette office, Fremantle, and published at 3s. per copy. A copy of this sheet is at present in the library of the British Museum.
In May, 1832, Charles Macfaull in conjunction with W. K. Shenton printed a small news-sheet called The Fremantle Observer, but the partnership was not of long duration.
The story of the first newspaper is a somewhat humorous resume of the history of the "Fourth Estate" in Western Australia. The publishing house was a shed owned by Colonel Latour in Fremantle, and whilst in one corner was printed the first newspaper of the settlement in the other was the mill which ground the first bushel of wheat in the colony.
The partnership existing between Messrs. Macfaull and Shenton was not of very lengthy duration owing to the vagaries of a contributor, and Mr. Macfaull continued the sheet for a time after the dissolution of the partnership.
The paper, however, became defunct after twelve months' existence owing to the financial embarrassment of the publisher, who could not afford the weekly rent required for the hire of the plant.
The owner of the plant, Mr. Weasel, soon after established a paper called The Inquisitor, which led to a sad contretemps, with a still sadder ending. The contributors or staff of this journal were Captain Graham, formerly Governor of Sierra Leone, whose bickerings with the Colonial authorities were public knowledge; Mr. Yule, afterwards police magistrate of Perth; a Mr. Johnstone, who was engaged in mercantile pursuits; and a Scotch lawyer named Clarke. The policy of the paper on Government affairs led to many disagreements between the staff, who held on many questions of public interest strongly divergent views. A disagreement of a more than usually passionate and acrimonious nature led to the statement by Johnstone that Clarke was "no gentleman," and a duel was the result. Johnstone was mortally wounded by Clarke's fire, and died in twelve hours. Thus the first year's publication ended in murder - a significant travesty on that freedom which should be the keynote of all true journalism.
In 1833 The Perth Gazette made its appearance, under the leadership of Mr. Macfaull, whose second venture in the realms of journalism was fairly successful-at least for a few years. This was the progenitor of The West Australian of to-day [1912].
In 1835 Mr. Waylen published a letter in this newssheet in criticism of the captain and crew of a vessel named the Skerne, which had been wrecked between Carnac and Garden Island. The letter accused the captain of drunkenness, and he sued the paper for £500 damages for libel. The solicitor for the plaintiff was Mr Nairn Clarke, already notorious as the slayer of Johnstone, who put in an ingenious plea, that as the captain only wanted to protect his character any damages the jury liked to assess would be given to the poor of Perth. On the evening of the first day of the trial Clarke had an interview with the foreman of the jury - a most unrighteous proceeding - and promised him the sum of £5 for a jollification if the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff. This they did, assessing damages at £75. The "spree" eventuated, but Macfaull never recovered from the financial embarrassment caused by this unjust verdict.
In 1835 Clarke, so notorious previously in journalism, became the publisher of a second journal named The Guardian, which had a brief existence of twelve months.
Having outlined the early efforts of journalism in this State, let us pass on to a history of those particular journals whose policies and literature have become part and parcel of the life of the people. J.S. Battye, Cyclopedia, vol. 1, p. 578.

Fremantle Herald [3] 1989-present

The current paper is free, relying on advertising, published weekly on the Saturday's date, and is delivered to letterboxes, as well as being available online in both facsimile and 'interactive' formats.

In 1989, local resident Andrew Smith launched a new Fremantle Herald from a weatherboard house, employing an editor and small team of journalists, production and advertising staff based at East Fremantle. In 1992 the operation was moved to the corner of Cliff and Croke Streets, Fremantle. It now also publishes three titles in other parts of the Perth Metropolitan Area: the Melville City Herald, the Cockburn City Herald, and the Perth Voice, all of which are letterbox-distributed weeklies. A two-year trial of a paid-for version of the Fremantle Herald failed to gain support from readers and was abandoned in 2005. Wikipedia.

The Era

In 1868 another newspaper was launched in Fremantle under the name of the Era. That paper was owned and published by the versatile George Barrow. In the day time he acted as accountant for L. Samson & Son, and in the evenings he occupied his time in the production of his newspaper. The novelty of that quaint little journal lay in the fact that it was set up and printed by the lithographic process in the same manner that cheque forms are done. To secure that result the whole paper - news, leading article and advertisements - was written out in a free copperplate hand, involving considerable labour, the only return for which was a limited sale at 6d. per copy. Needless to say the career of that artistic production was of short duration. While it lasted Fremantle had two papers, as at present [1929]. In the course of the century Fremantle has seen the birth of many newspapers, but none of them have died of old age. Hitchcock: 52.

The Sentinel

In 1936 this was owned by J.A. Hicks.

Paul Hasluck 1977:
At the same time there was an increasing amount of occasional writing in periodicals on local history. Horace Stirling ran a regular column of anecdotes and reminiscences in the Daily News, successor of the Morning Herald, of which he had once been the editor. R. Clarke Spear in the Pastoral Review and the annual called The Golden West, and Victor Riseley and others in the Sunday Times, as well as various contributors to the Western Mail made their twopence farthing a line from the reminiscences of old colonists or stories of some incident of the early days. There was a growing market for articles or paragraphs about the romantic past and the grand old pioneers. Early Days, 8, 1: 12.

References and Links

Battye J. S. 1912, Cyclopedia of Western Australia, vol. 1.

Frost, A. C. 1983, 'Early West Australian newspapers'Early Days, Volume 9: 77-88.

King, Richard 2023, 'Harbouring a passion for the facts: news in Fremantle', Public Interest Journalism Initiative.

Reece, Bob 2010, 'Fremantle's first voice: The Herald (1867-1886)', Fremantle Studies, 6: 43-65.

Stirling, Edmund 1894, A Brief History of Western Australia: from its earliest settlement, vol. 1, Sands & McDougall, Perth. [14 pages]

Stirling, Horace 1925, 'Recollections of Perth', Western Mail, Friday 25 December, p. 31.

Website of the current Fremantle Herald.

See also: Edmund Stirling, printer; Thomas Corrigan, Associate Editor of the first Herald.

Garry Gillard | New: 9 August, 2015 | Now: 1 May, 2024