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The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) is a daily broadsheet newspaper published by Fairfax Media in Sydney, Australia. The newspaper's Sunday edition, The Sun-Herald, is published in tabloid format. Founded in 1831 as the Sydney Herald, the SMH is the oldest continuously published newspaper in Australia.


The Sydney Morning Herald is historically credited with high standards of journalism; however, in recent years it has been accused of "dumbing down" and 'tabloidizing' editorial content, with more space allocated to larger photographs and lifestyle-based stories.

The Saturday edition includes lift-out sections such as News Review and arts and entertainment guide Spectrum. The SMH publishes a variety of supplements, including the magazines Good Weekend and the(sydney)magazine; and the lift-outs The Guide + icon (television and electronics—these were once separate liftouts but merged in 2007), Good Living (lifestyle) and Metro (entertainment). The lift-outs Domain (real estate), Drive (motoring) and MyCareer (employment) are co-branded with Fairfax Media's online classified advertising sites. Defunct sections include a dot-com section called "" published in the late 1990s and a youth section called "Radar" published in the early 2000s. In a cost-cutting drive, editorial production of several of these sections was outsourced in 2008.

In 2007 the paper sold an average of 212,700 copies per weekday and an average 364,000 copies on Saturdays, compared with its Sydney rival, The Daily Telegraph , which sold an average of 392,000 copies per weekday and 340,000 copies on Saturdays.

The editor is Peter Fray. Former editors include Frederick Ward, Charles Brunsdon Fletcher, Colin Bingham, Max Prisk, John Alexander, Paul McGeough, Alan Revell and Alan Oakley.


The cover to the newspaper's first edition, on 18 April 1831
Three employees of the now-defunct Sydney Gazette, Alfred Stephens, Frederick Stokes and William McGarvie, founded the The Sydney Herald in 1831. The four-page weekly had a print run of 750. In 1840, the newspaper began to publish daily. In 1841, an Englishman named John Fairfax purchased the operation, renaming it The Sydney Morning Herald the following year. Fairfax, whose family were to control the newspaper for almost 150 years, based his editorial policies "upon principles of candour, honesty and honour. We have no wish to mislead; no interest to gratify by unsparing abuse or indiscriminate approbation."

The SMH was late to the trend of printing news rather than just advertising on the front page, doing so from 15 April 1944. Of the country's metropolitan dailies, only The West Australian was later in making the switch. In 1949, the newspaper launched a Sunday edition, The Sunday Herald. Four years later, this was merged with the newly-acquired Sun newspaper to create The Sun-Herald, which continues to this day.

In 1995, the company launched, the newspaper's web edition. The site has since grown to include interactive and multimedia features beyond the content in the print edition. Around the same time, the organisation moved from Jones Street to new offices at Darling Park and built a new printing press at Chulloramarker, in the city's west. The SMH has since moved with other Sydney Fairfax divisions to a building at Darling Island.

In 2000, the newspaper was radically redesigned by the Sydney-based publication design group de Luxe & Associates. Few of those style changes remain.

Like its stablemate The Age, the Herald announced in early 2007 that it would be moving from a broadsheet format to the smaller "compact" size, in the footsteps of The Times. Both the Age and the Herald dumped these plans later in the year without explanation, to the amusement of The Australian's Chris Mitchell, who called the about-face "a bit embarrassing".

Political viewpoint

Historically, the SMH has been a conservative newspaper as evidenced by the fact that it did not endorse the Australian Labor Party at any election until 1984 or at a state election until 2003. Its parent company, Fairfax, is chaired by a high-profile former member of the Liberal party, Ron Walker.

The newspaper has in recent years attempted to spearhead political campaigns, including the "Campaign for Sydney" (planning and transport) and "Earth Hour" (environment).

In a surprise move, the "Herald" declined to endorse a party at the 2004 federal election, in line with a decision that it would "no longer endorse one party or another at election time". The newspaper noted that the policy might yet be revised: "A truly awful government of any colour, for example, would bring reappraisal." The Herald subsequently endorsed the conservative Coalition at the 2007 NSW State election, but endorsed Labor at the 2007 federal election.

Notable contributors


Fairfax went public in 1957 and grew to acquire interests in magazines, radio and television. The group collapsed spectacularly on 11 December 1990 when Warwick Fairfax, great-great-grandson of John Fairfax, attempted to privatise the group by borrowing $1.8 billion. The group was bought by Conrad Black before being re-listed in 1992. In 2006, Fairfax announced a merger with Rural Press, which brought a Fairfax family member, John B. Fairfax, in as a significant player in the company.

Column 8

Column 8 is a short column to which Herald readers send their observations of interesting happenings. It was first published on 11 January 1947. The name comes from the fact that it originally occupied the final (8th) column of the broadsheet newspaper's front page. In a front-page redesign in the lead-up to the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, Column 8 moved to the back page of the first section from 31 July 2000.

The content tends to the quirky, typically involving strange urban occurrences, instances of confusing signs (often in Engrish), wordplay, and discussion of more or less esoteric topics.

The column is also sometimes affectionately known as Granny, after a fictional grandmother who supposedly edited it. The old Granny logo was used for the first 20 years of the column and is occasionally resurrected for a special retrospective. The logo was a caricature of Sydney Deamer, originator of the column and its author for 14 years.

It was edited for 15 years by George Richards, who retired on 31 January 2004. Other editors besides Deamer and Richards have been Duncan Thompson, Bill Fitter, Col Allison, Jim Cunningham, and briefly, Peter Bowers and Lenore Nicklin. The column is currently edited by Pat Sheil.

On 13 September 2009 a short note was published at the previous online home of Column 8, stating that “The Sydney Morning Herald's Column 8 will no longer be available online. You can catch it on the back page of the first part of the newspaper every day. Sorry for the inconvenience.” Two days later Column 8 was silently restored to the Opinion section of the paper, and the notice of its removal was, itself, removed.

Several volumes collecting highlights have been published:
  • - publication to coincide with the Sydney Morning Herald's 175th birthday

Good Weekend

Good Weekend is a liftout magazine that is distributed with both The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on Saturdays.

It contains, on average, four feature articles written by its stable of writers and syndicated from overseas as well as sections on food, wine and fashion.

Writers include Janet Hawley, Amanda Hooton, John van Tiggelen and Greg Bearup.

There is one page dedicated to trivia: a section called 'Myth Conceptions' written by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki contains interesting science facts, as well as a quiz and statistics; "Your Time Starts Now" interviews a range of well-known people.

Other sections include "Modern Guru", which features humorous columnists including Danny Katz responding to the everyday dilemmas of readers; a Samurai Sudoku; and "The Two Of Us", containing interviews with a pair of close friends, relatives or colleagues.

Good Weekend has been edited by Judith Whelan since 2004. The deputy editor is Lauren Quaintance and the associate editor is Cindy MacDonald. The previous editor was Fenella Souter.

Other Australian weekend magazines are included in The Australian and the Sun-Herald newspapers as well as the (sydney) magazine in The Sydney Morning Herald which is distributed once per month.

Big Questions

This column, which appeared in Spectrum in the Saturday edition posed sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical questions and published readers' answers. The column was discontinued in May 2009.

See also


  1. Libraries Australia record for 1995 edition of volume 1
  2. Libraries Australia record for 1996 edition of More of the best of
  3. Libraries Australia record for 2006 edition
  4. Libraries Australia record for 2006 edition of volume 2

External links

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