The Age

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The Age
TheAgeFrontPage040313.jpg
The front page of The Age
on 4 March 2013
TypeDaily newspaper
Format Compact
Owner(s) Nine Entertainment Co.
EditorAlex Lavelle
Founded17 October 1854;164 years ago (1854-10-17)
Headquarters Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Circulation Weekday 88,000
Saturday 152,000
Sunday 123,000 [1]
ISSN 0312-6307
Website theage.com.au

The Age, a daily newspaper, has been published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, since 1854. Owned and published by Nine, The Age primarily serves Victoria, but copies also sell in Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and border regions of South Australia and southern New South Wales. It is delivered both in hardcopy and in online formats. The newspaper shares many articles with other Nine Publishing metropolitan daily newspapers, such as The Sydney Morning Herald .

Melbourne City in Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of 9,992.5 km2 (3,858.1 sq mi), comprising a metropolitan area with 31 municipalities, and is also the common name for its city centre. The city occupies much of the coastline of Port Phillip bay and spreads into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. It has a population of approximately 5 million, and its inhabitants are referred to as "Melburnians".

Victoria (Australia) State in Australia

Victoria is a state in south-eastern Australia. Victoria is Australia's smallest mainland state and its second-most populous state overall, making it the most densely populated state overall. Most of its population lives concentrated in the area surrounding Port Phillip Bay, which includes the metropolitan area of its state capital and largest city, Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city. Victoria is bordered by Bass Strait and Tasmania to the south, New South Wales to the north, the Tasman Sea to the east, and South Australia to the west.

Nine Entertainment Co. Holdings Limited is an Australian publicly listed media company. Originally a 50/50 joint venture between Publishing and Broadcasting Limited and Consolidated Media Holdings, in June 2007 PBL announced that it would sell a further 25% to CVC Capital Partners for A$515 million. In September 2007, it was announced that the transaction was to go ahead at the increased purchase price of approximately A$526 million.

Contents

As of February  2017The Age had an average weekday circulation of 88,000, increasing to 152,000 on Saturdays (in a city of 5.0 million). [1] The Sunday Age had a circulation of 123,000. [1] These represented year-on-year declines of somewhere from 8% to 9%. The Age's website, according to third-party web analytics providers Alexa and SimilarWeb, is the 44th- and 58th-most visited website in Australia, respectively, as of July 2015. [2] [3] SimilarWeb rates the site as the seventh-most visited news website in Australia, attracting more than 7 million visitors per month. [3] [4] [5]

A newspaper's circulation is the number of copies it distributes on an average day. Circulation is one of the principal factors used to set advertising rates. Circulation is not always the same as copies sold, often called paid circulation, since some newspapers are distributed without cost to the reader. Readership figures are usually higher than circulation figures because of the assumption that a typical copy of the newspaper is read by more than one person.

Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage. However, Web analytics is not just a process for measuring web traffic but can be used as a tool for business and market research, and to assess and improve the effectiveness of a website. Web analytics applications can also help companies measure the results of traditional print or broadcast advertising campaigns. It helps one to estimate how traffic to a website changes after the launch of a new advertising campaign. Web analytics provides information about the number of visitors to a website and the number of page views. It helps gauge traffic and popularity trends which is useful for market research.

Alexa Internet American analytics company providing web traffic data

Alexa Internet, Inc. is an American web traffic analysis company based in San Francisco. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon.

History

The Age was founded by three Melbourne businessmen, brothers John and Henry Cooke, who had arrived from New Zealand in the 1840s, and Walter Powell. The first edition appeared on 17 October 1854.

Syme family

The venture was not initially a success, and in June 1856 the Cookes sold the paper to Ebenezer Syme, a Scottish-born businessman, and James McEwan, an ironmonger and founder of McEwans & Co, for 2,000 pounds at auction. The first edition under the new owners was on 17 June 1856. From its foundation the paper was self-consciously liberal in its politics: "aiming at a wide extension of the rights of free citizenship and a full development of representative institutions," and supporting "the removal of all restrictions upon freedom of commerce, freedom of religion and—to the utmost extent that is compatible with public morality—upon freedom of personal action." [6]

Ebenezer Syme was a Scottish-Australian journalist, proprietor and manager of The Age.

Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed, and equality before the law. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but they generally support limited government, individual rights, capitalism, democracy, secularism, gender equality, racial equality, internationalism, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion. Yellow is the political colour most commonly associated with liberalism.

Ebenezer Syme was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly shortly after buying The Age, and his brother David Syme soon came to dominate the paper, editorially and managerially. When Ebenezer died in 1860, David became editor-in-chief, a position he retained until his death in 1908, although a succession of editors did the day-to-day editorial work. In 1891, Syme bought out Ebenezer's heirs and McEwan's and became sole proprietor. He built up The Age 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.

Victorian Legislative Assembly lower house of the Parliament of Victoria, Australia

The Victorian Legislative Assembly is the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of Victoria in Australia; the upper house being the Victorian Legislative Council. Both houses sit at Parliament House in Spring Street, Melbourne.

David Syme Scottish-Australian newspaper proprietor

David Syme was a Scottish-Australian newspaper proprietor of The Age and regarded as "the father of protection in Australia" who had immense influence in the Government of Victoria.

<i>The Argus</i> (Melbourne) former newspaper in Melbourne

The Argus was a morning daily newspaper in Melbourne, Australia that was established in 1846 and closed in 1957. It 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. The Argus's main competitor was David Syme's more liberal-minded newspaper, The Age.

A copy of the first edition of The Age The Age first edition, Melbourne Museum.jpg
A copy of the first edition of The Age

Under Syme's control The Age exercised enormous political power in Victoria. It supported liberal politicians such as Graham Berry, George Higinbotham and George Turner, and other leading liberals such as Alfred Deakin and Charles Pearson furthered their careers as The Age journalists. Syme was originally a free trader, but converted to protectionism through his belief that Victoria needed to develop its manufacturing industries behind tariff barriers. In the 1890s, The Age was a leading supporter of Australian federation and of the White Australia policy.

Graham Berry Australian politician

Sir Graham Berry,, Australian colonial politician, was the 11th Premier of Victoria. He was one of the most radical and colourful figures in the politics of colonial Victoria, and made the most determined efforts to break the power of the Victorian Legislative Council, the stronghold of the landowning class.

George Higinbotham Anglo-Australian politician and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria

George Higinbotham was a politician and was a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, which is the highest ranking court in the Australian colony of Victoria.

George Turner (Australian politician) Australian politician

Sir George Turner, Australian politician, was the 18th Premier of Victoria and the first Treasurer of Australia in the federal Barton Ministry.

After Syme's death the paper remained in the hands of his three sons, with his eldest son Herbert Syme becoming general manager until his death in 1939. 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. Under the management of Sir Geoffrey Syme (1908–42), and his chosen editors Gottlieb Schuler and Harold Campbell, The Age failed to modernise, and gradually lost market share to The Argus and to the tabloid 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.

Gottlieb Frederick Henry Schuler was an Australian journalist, editor of The Age for 26 years from 1900.

The Sun News-Pictorial, also known as The Sun, was a morning daily tabloid newspaper published in Melbourne, from 1922 until its merger in 1990 with The Herald to form the Herald-Sun.

The historian Sybil Nolan writes: "Accounts of The Age in these years generally suggest that the paper was second-rate, outdated in both its outlook and appearance. Walker described a newspaper which had fallen asleep in the embrace of the Liberal Party; "querulous," "doddery" and "turgid" are some of the epithets applied by other journalists. It is inevitably criticised not only for its increasing conservatism, but for its failure to keep pace with innovations in layout and editorial technique so dramatically demonstrated in papers like The Sun News-Pictorial and The Herald."

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. A takeover attempt by the Fairfax family, publishers of The Sydney Morning Herald , was beaten off. This new lease on life allowed The Age to recover commercially, and in 1957 it received a great boost when The Argus ceased publication.

1960–present

Front page of The Age reporting the dismissal of the Prime Minister on 11 November 1975 TheAgeNov111975.jpg
Front page of The Age reporting the dismissal of the Prime Minister on 11 November 1975

Oswald Syme retired in 1964, and his grandson Ranald Macdonald became chairman of the company. He was the first chairman to hand over full control of the paper to a professional editor from outside the Syme family. This was Graham Perkin, appointed in 1966, who radically changed the paper's format and shifted its editorial line from the rather conservative liberalism of the Symes to a new "left liberalism" characterised by attention to issues such as race, gender and the environment, and opposition to White Australia and the death penalty. It also became more supportive of the Australian Labor Party after years of having usually supported the Coalition. The Liberal Premier of Victoria, Henry Bolte, called The Age "that pinko rag," a view conservatives have maintained ever since. Former editor Michael Gawenda in his book American Notebook wrote that the "default position of most journalists at The Age was on the political Left." [7] Also in 1966, Macdonald took the fateful step of allowing Fairfax to acquire a minority stake in The Age, although an agreement was signed guaranteeing the paper's editorial independence. Fairfax bought controlling interest in 1972.

Perkin's editorship coincided with Gough Whitlam's reforms of the Labor Party, and The Age became a key supporter of the Whitlam government, which came to power in 1972. Contrary to subsequent mythology, however, The Age was not an uncritical supporter of Whitlam, and played a leading role in exposing the Loans Affair, one of the scandals which contributed to the demise of the Whitlam government. It was one of many papers to call for Whitlam's resignation on 15 October 1975. Its editorial that day, "Go now, go decently", began, "We will say it straight, and clear, and at once. The Whitlam Government has run its course." It would be Perkin's last editorial; he died the next day.

After Perkin's death, The Age returned to a more moderate liberal position. While it criticised Whitlam's dismissal later that year, it supported Malcolm Fraser's Liberal government in its early years. However, after 1980 it became increasingly critical and was a leading supporter of Bob Hawke's reforming government after 1983. But from the 1970s, the political influence of The Age, as with other broadsheet newspapers, derived less from what it said in its editorial columns (which relatively few people read) than from the opinions expressed by journalists, cartoonists, feature writers and guest columnists. The Age has always kept a stable of leading editorial cartoonists, notably Les Tanner, Bruce Petty, Ron Tandberg and Michael Leunig.

In 1983, Fairfax bought out the remaining shares in David Syme and Co., which became a subsidiary of John Fairfax and Co. [8] Macdonald was denounced as a traitor by the remaining members of the Syme family (who nevertheless accepted Fairfax's generous offer for their shares), but he argued that The Age was a natural partner for Fairfax's flagship property, The Sydney Morning Herald. He believed the greater resources of the Fairfax group would enable The Age to remain competitive. By the 1980s a new competitor had appeared in Rupert Murdoch's national daily The Australian . In 1999 David Syme and Co. became The Age Company Ltd, finally ending the Syme connection.

Previous headquarters of The Age The Age Headquarters.jpg
Previous headquarters of The Age
Current headquarters in Collins Street, completed 2009 The Age Collins St 2010.jpg
Current headquarters in Collins Street, completed 2009

The Age was published from offices in Collins Street until 1969, when it moved to 250 Spencer Street (hence the nickname "The Spencer Street Soviet" favoured by some critics). In 2003, The Age opened a new printing centre at Tullamarine. The Headquarters moved again in 2009 to Collins Street opposite Southern Cross station.

In 2004, Gawenda was succeeded as editor by British journalist Andrew Jaspan. Jaspan aroused controversy by initially appearing to not know that The Age was published in Melbourne,[ citation needed ] sacking Gerard Henderson,[ citation needed ] a conservative columnist, from the paper and by making remarks critical of Douglas Wood, an Australian engineer who was held hostage and tortured in Iraq. Jaspan accused Wood on ABC radio of being boorish and coarse for speaking harshly about those who kidnapped and tortured him. [9]

In February 2007, The Age publicly advocated on behalf of the Free David Hicks campaign (when Hicks was a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay). [10] [11] [12]

In 2009, The Age suspended its columnist Michael Backman after one of his columns condemned Israeli tourists as greedy and badly behaved, prompting criticism that he was anti-semitic. A Press Council complaint against The Age for its handling of the complaints against Backman was dismissed. [13]

Reporting on 19 March 2010 on alleged corruption in religion, The Age claimed that the Vienna Boys Choir "has been caught up in accusations that pedophile priests systematically abused their choristers", even though the complaints were made against teachers and older pupils of the choir, which is a private organisation. [14] Reviewing the matter, journalist Paul Mees in Crikey accused The Age of outright "fabrication". [15]

In 2014 The Age put a photograph of an innocent man, Abu Bakar Alam, on the front page mistakenly identifying him as the perpetrator of 2014 Endeavour Hills stabbings. As part of the settlement the newspaper donated $20,000 towards building a mosque in nearby Doveton. [16]

As of 2012, three editions of The Age are printed nightly: the NAA edition, for interstate and country Victorian readers, the MEA edition, for metropolitan areas and a final late metropolitan edition, the THA.

Like its Fairfax stablemate The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age announced in early 2007 that it would be moving from a broadsheet format to the smaller Berliner size, in the footsteps of The Guardian and The Courier-Mail . [17]

In December 2016, editor-in-chief Mark Forbes was stood down from his position pending the result of a sexual harassment investigation. [18]

Headquarters

The Age headquarters, named Media House, is located at 655 Collins St, Docklands, Melbourne, Victoria. It is shared with other Nine business units including: 3AW radio, Magic1278 radio, the Australian Financial Review , and Fairfax Community Network. [19] Media House was designed by Bates Smart and built by Grocon for $110 million. [20] The building was formally opened in October 2009. [21]

Masthead

The Age masthead (nameplate) has received a number of updates since 1854. The most recent update to the design was made in 2002. The current masthead features a stylised version of the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom and "The Age" in Electra Bold type. The crest features the French words Dieu et mon droit ("God and my right"). According to The Age's art director, Bill Farr: "No one knows why they picked the royal crest. But I guess we were a colony at the time, and to be seen to be linked with the Empire would be a positive thing."[ citation needed ] The original 1854 masthead included the Colony of Victoria crest. In 1856, that crest was removed and in 1861, the royal coat of arms was introduced. This was changed again in 1967, with the shield and decoration altered and the lion crowned. In 1971, a bold typeface was introduced and the crest shield rounded and less ornate. In 1997, the masthead was stacked and contained in a blue box (with the logo in white). In 2002, in conjunction with an overall revamp of the paper, the masthead was redesigned in its present form. [22]

Ownership

In 1972, John Fairfax Holdings bought a majority of David Syme's shares, and in 1983 bought out all the remaining shares.

On 26 July 2018, Nine Entertainment Co. and Fairfax Media, the parent company of The Age, announced they agreed on terms for a merger between the two companies to become Australia's largest media company. Nine shareholders will own 51.1 per cent of the combined entity and Fairfax shareholders will own 48.9 per cent.

Printing

The Age was published from its office in Collins Street until 1969, when the newspaper moved to 250 Spencer Street. In July 2003, the $220 million five-storey Age Print Centre was opened at Tullamarine. [23] The centre produced a wide range of publications for both Fairfax and commercial clients. Among its stable of daily print publications are The Age, The Australian Financial Review and The Bendigo Advertiser. The building was sold in 2014, and printing will transferred to "regional presses". [24]

Editors

Owner(s) / ManagementEditor(s) /
Editor-in-chief
Year appointedYear endedYears as editor
John Cooke,
Henry Cooke, and
Walter Powell
T. L. Bright and
David Blair
185418562 years
Ebenezer Syme and
James McEwan
Ebenezer Syme185618604 years
David Syme George Smith 186018677 years
James Harrison 186718725 years
Arthur Windsor 1872190028 years
Gottlieb Schuler 190019088 years
Sir Geoffrey Syme Gottlieb Schuler 1908192616 years
Len Briggs 1926193913 years
Harold Campbell 1939194220 years
Oswald Syme /
David Syme and Co.
19421959
Keith Sinclair 195919667 years
David Syme and Co. Graham Perkin 196619729 years
John Fairfax and Sons 19721975
Les Carlyon 197519761 year
Greg Taylor 197619793 years
Michael Davie 197919812 years
Creighton Burns 198119878 years
Warwick Fairfax /
John Fairfax Holdings
19871989
Mike Smith 198919903 years
John Fairfax Holdings /
Conrad Black
19901992
Alan Kohler 199219953 years
Bruce Guthrie 199519962 years
John Fairfax Holdings19961997
Michael Gawenda 199720047 years
Andrew Jaspan 200420074 years
Fairfax Media 20072008
Paul Ramadge 200820124 years
Andrew Holden June 201220164 years
Mark Forbes 201620169 months
Alex Lavelle 2016presentincumbent

See also

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References

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Further reading