Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Creative Arts


This thesis concentrates on a very limited period of Australian newspaper history. The Newcastle Sunday Mirror, Newcastle's only Sunday newspaper appeared briefly in 1959-61 wrapped around the Sydney Sunday Mirror. It was not a 'free' newspaper. The price of 6d. bought the reader the complete Sydney Sunday Mirror with the addition of the Newcastle paper with up to 32 pages of local stories, local pictures featuring local people together with local advertisements. Forty years later it has been largely forgotten. This thesis postulates, however, that it deserves study as a innovative venture into regional newspaper production.

The Newcastle Sunday Mirror campaigned vigorously against Sydney domination, promoting Newcastle interests and championing the 'battler'. Its journalism drew on three major genres of tabloidism: hard news tabloidism; Fleet St tabloidism; and Nortonism. Definition of these genres, and their application to Australian journalism, particularly regional journalism, are principal conceptual objectives of the thesis. The Newcastle Sunday Mirror was often dismissed as sensational and its accuracy was questioned, particularly by the conservative Newcastle Morning Herald. Ironically, moonlighting journalists from the Newcastle Morning Herald and The Newcastle Sun were frequent suppliers of copy for the Newcastle Sunday Mirror. Such elements of news gathering and production are closely analysed in the distinctive context of a regional Sunday newspaper with a proprietary based in Sydney, and committed to tabloidism.

The initial popularity of the paper helped to stem the declining sales of the Sunday Mirror which lost substantial circulation after it was transformed in late 1959 from the salacious, sensational Truth to a Sunday tabloid targeted at family audiences. The Newcastle Sunday Mirror was rather more successful than the metropolitan Sunday Mirror in building advertising and circulation, and promoting its content to regional audiences. Rupert Murdoch's acquisition of both the Daily and Sunday Mirror in May 1960 provided initial opportunites for the further development of the newspaper. It succumbed, however, to the serious economic downturn sparked by the severe "Credit Squeeze" of 1960-61. Despite the fate of the Newcastle Sunday Mirror and its subsequent neglect, it provides significant insights into journalism, newspaper production, advertising, circulation and promotion, particularly in regional Austrália. It also offers some fascinating clues to the evolution of tabloid journalism and free-newspaper distribution in the decades after 1960, particularly by Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd proprietary.