by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Panpa Bulletin : November December 2006
characters HISTORY installed, he revived the Advertiser, as a tri- weekly, while the Express remained weekly. Each had its own advertisers and subscrib- ers. An influential section of the Geraldton community objected strongly to Drew's editorial attacks on the Forrest Government. The faction formed a company that launched the Geraldton-Murchison Telegraph on July 5, 1892. The Express clashed directly with the Forrest Government in 1894 over what became known as the "Free Press Incident". The Express had published correspondence claiming Geraldton was full of cripples who were "living monuments to the skill of the Government medico". The Government medico was infuriated and demanded that Drew reveal the identity of its author. Drew refused and was fined £3,000 ($6,000) in a criminal libel action. During the court case, many witnesses sup- ported the allegations made in the letters published in the Express. They said that Geraldton's hospital was widely known as the "slaughterhouse" and that the medico's reputation was based on his utter contempt for "expirees". Acting as editor of the Express during the trial was Charles Vosper, a young, talented, crusading journalist never afraid to con- front governments. He decided to publish a telegram sent from Drew to his wife about the court proceedings that resulted in the jailing of Drew and the Express's proprietor, Henry Kenny, for 14 days for contempt of court. From prison, Drew wrote "My jail journal" and the Express published it. When Drew and Kenny finally returned to Geraldton, a brass band played "For he's a jolly good fellow", and they were lifted from the muddy streets and carried to the Express office. Drew announced that he had acquired the Express from Kenny whose finances had been undermined by the libel action. He would not have been able to complete the purchase but for an unexpected presentation of £360 to him from the people of the Victoria district and the Murchison goldfields. Drew "fought" the Geraldton-Murchison Telegraph for six years, and at a bailiff's sale bought most of the Telegraph's plant for £52 ($104). In the 20th century, there were only two new provincial dailies in WA: the Evening News, Boulder, appeared daily from July 25, 1921, to March 31, 1922; and the Geraldton Guardian & Express, daily from January 3, 1929, to September 13, 1930. The latter title resulted from the amalgamation of the Guardian (est. October 2, 1906), and the Express (est. 1878). The two titles had appeared tri-weekly, on al- ternate days, since the Guardian had stepped up from bi-weekly issue on October 15, 1907, providing, in effect, a daily newspaper. The Guardian & Express continued as a tri- weekly until World War II; it eliminated one issue a week from August 1942 and did not resume three issues a week until March 1946. It changed its name to the Geraldton Guardian on January 3, 1948, and from January 1968 -- when it incorporated the Irwin Index, established in 1928 -- increased its frequency to four times a week, appearing Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday until September 1976 and Tuesday to Friday from the final week of September 1976 until October 28, 1994. Gary McGay, the general manager, 1989- 1997, said the publishing company was part of a syndicate of local business interests that had successfully bid for the region's first com- mercial FM broadcasting licence. Publication frequency was changed to tri-weekly to satisfy the requirements of a section of the Broadcasting Act that had not been updated since World War II when it was decreed that the owner of any newspaper published on four or more days a week could not also be licensed to broadcast in the same market. McGay said that the strategy, as well as clearing the way for the company to diversify its media interests, lifted average net circula- tion. But a local media war had been declared following the allocation of the broadcast licence. Bitter division ensued in the busi- ness community, said McGay, because many prominent business interests were existing shareholders in the region's long-established AM radio station 6GE, which faced competi- tion for the first time. "To counteract what was seen as the Guardian's emerging media dominance, one of 6GE's major shareholders launched his own free weekly newspaper, the Midwest Times, and the station took advantage of an apparent loophole in the Broadcasting Act which enabled it to convert to FM and begin broadcasting head-to-head with the same high-tech music format as the new FM sta- tion at any time after the new station went to air. The two stations threw their switches only seconds apart," McGay said. Two years of intense rivalry followed. Geraldton was simply too small for compet- ing interests to gain and maintain a viable slice of the local media pie and so, with losses mounting from broadcast operations, Geraldton Newspapers Ltd bailed out its syndicate partners, assuming control and eventual total ownership through share transfers. It became obvious to the incumbent rival that as a wholly owned subsidiary of the newspaper, the new station could not only survive in the long term but also could keep the market too marginal to provide any posi- tive short-term outlook. The two boards got together and through another share-redistribution, the two radio stations became part of one media family with the Guardian. Ironically, the publisher of the Midwest Times received a significant shareholding in Geraldton Newspapers Ltd as a result of the deal, but continued to niggle the Guardian for several more years until both papers attracted the attention of Western Australia's major newspaper publisher looking to strengthen its already dominant regional network. In July 2005, West Australian Newspapers Holdings Ltd acquired Geraldton Newspapers Pty Ltd, publisher of the Geraldton Guardian and the Mid-West Times and the owner of two radio stations and Guardian Prints, for $11.8 million. Rod Kirkpatrick is Program Director, Journalism, at the University of Queensland. November--December 2006 PANPA BULLETIN | 45 Drew refused to reveal the identity of the letter s author to the furious government medico. He was ned £3000 in a criminal libel action Gary McGay, former general manager of the Geraldton Guardian.