Australia’s oldest metro newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald turns 185

The Sydney Morning Herald editor Judith Whelan gives Mediaweek a snapshot of the celebration week

Australia’s oldest metro paper, The Sydney Morning Herald, will be celebrating its 185th birthday next week.

The week-long celebration will centre around its past and giving back to its subscribers.

“The history of The Herald is essentially the history of Sydney,” the title’s new editor Judith Whelan told Mediaweek.

Judith Whelan

Judith Whelan

The first edition of the paper was printed on 18 April 1831. It was four pages long and cost seven pence.

Today, the Fairfax title is leading the way in digital. In the latest emma data, The Sydney Morning Herald had the #1 cross platform readership numbers with 5.9 million.

“Twenty years ago we wouldn’t have been able to say that. We would have been very proud of our two million readers of the Saturday newspaper. Now, we are accessing so many more people,” Whelan said.

“As a journalist first, that is really exciting.

“A lot of people look back to the time when there was just print, and say, ‘Isn’t it terrible that the world isn’t like that anymore.’ I actually think it’ more exciting now.”

The Sydney Morning Herald on iPad

The Sydney Morning Herald on iPad

The paper’s 185th landmark will be celebrated online, in print and via live events.

The Monday edition of the paper will come with a 16-page wrap.

“[The edition] will have a really exciting cover, but I won’t give that away,” Whelan said smiling.

“[The paper will have] a collection of the most amazing page ones over that enormous length of time. Plus, we will have pieces from our best known journalists: there will be pieces on investigation, and sports from the past 185 years. Private Sydney, will have a page in there on gossip, and the celebrities and personalities that have been featured in that time,” Whelan detailed.

In terms of the celebrations online, Judith revealed: “Everyday we will be rolling out special things: quizzes and interactive.

“We are also blogging one of the great historical events that The Sydney Morning Herald covered a few years ago. So we will be going back and looking at how we might cover it now.”

There will be a landing page dedicated to the anniversary featuring videos that will bring The Sydney Morning Herald’s historically iconic stories to life. It will also republish old stories.

The SMH old

The Sydney Morning Herald front page from 22 July 1969, which was priced five cents

“You can go back to that first page one. You’ll need to blow up the screen quite a bit, because it’s really dense,” Whelan warned laughing.

Whelan will also be hosting a series of live events every evening next week with Sydney Morning Herald journalists. The lineup includes Peter Fitzsimmons, Adele Ferguson, Kate McClymont, Ross Gittins, and Darren Goodsir. This is a subscriber only event. Tickets to many of the sessions have sold out, Whelan highlighted.

“They [the subscribers] love hearing behind the scenes of The Sydney Morning Herald: how the paper is put together, how the website is put together, and how we go about journalism. That is what we will be talking about.”

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