Early Otago newspapers

by Barbara Clapperton

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Record ID: 1316821
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5652


INTRODUCTION. It has been said with much truth that the newspaper of today is one of the world’s most influential text books. It is thus easy to appreciate the still greater importance of the newspaper of seventy-five or more years ago. Our present world with its great advances in science, with the invention and development of the radio, the facsimile newspaper, television, radio-type and newsreels offers many challenges to the ordinary newspaper. Seventy-five years ago such opponents were not known, and the newspaper took first place as the only medium by which local news and overseas news were transmitted to the public. The relation of the daily paper to the community was very aptly summed up by Julius Vogel who wrote in the first leading article in the Otago Daily Times, 15 November, 1861, and reprinted in the Diamond Jubilee Issue, 1921  – “The benefits arising from a daily newspaper are not to be exaggerated. Independent of the opportunity it affords to the community of making its wants felt and its wishes known to the outside world, and so asserting its dignity and advancing its importance, the moral, social, and commercial influences of a daily journal are strongly marked. It brings the members of a community into a closer unity; knits bonds of fellowship between them, not easily severed; facilitates business, advances the value of property, and in short mixes itself up so intimately with the daily events of life that, once having experienced its benefits, its absence is nothing short of a public calamity”. That the value of a newspaper in any community was recognised is borne out by the number established throughout Otago during its earliest years, not least important of which was the Otago News published in the same year as the arrival of “John Wickliffe” and the Philip Laing”. In outlying districts as population grew and as industry flourished, there came also the press, helped greatly by the impetus of goldseeking. It is with the development of these early newspapers, with their ambitions and struggles - and in many cases their failures - that I am here concerned, for they are the record of courage and endeavour inherent in the making up of those early colonists.