THE FOURTH ESTATE:
Australia is about to witness the rebirth of the once-much-loved and respected metropolitan afternoon daily newspaper after an absence lasting decades.
And it all happens this afternoon when The Late Mail starts rolling off the NewsCorp Australia presses in Murarrie, Brisbane, and in far-northern centres.
The first edition (pictured at top) is currently being put together at the News Queensland headquarters at Bowen Hills under new editor Kelvin Healey who is in charge of a small but dedicated and professional team of experienced reporters and subs.
Healey has moved across from editing The Sunday Mail, and the last edition of that masthead before the October 31 state election will be in the safe and professional hands of highly respected and much loved former Sunday Mail editor Des Houghton.
And highly respected and much-loved Courier-Mail editor Chris Jones will stay behind after each morning’s Courier is put to bed and sleep on an army camp stretcher with just a single cotton sheet just to be on hand to help Healey out each morning.
The Bug understands the decision to launch a second metropolitan daily in Brisbane was taken quickly after executives at the LNP’s Bowen Hills branch were stunned by the latest odds by online bookies that have Labor well placed to win on October 31.
Sportsbet and Ladbrokes late yesterday had Labor on $1.40 and $1.35 respectively to be sworn in as the next Queensland government, with the LNP languishing on $2.75 and $2.90.
“We were all simply stunned by those odds, especially after months and months of ethical, balanced and professional coverage by both the Sunday and Courier-Mails on state politics,” one senior editorial executive said on the condition of not being sacked.
“We have all been trying so very, very hard for the good voters of Queensland to see reason.
“We vowed unanimously to double our efforts to steer Queensland voters in the right direction and when someone mentioned an afternoon paper the idea was grabbed at instantly.”
The launch of an afternoon city paper has been described as “brave” by highly respected and much-loved newspaper publisher Frank Moore, probably the last media mogul to throw his considerable weight and reputation behind such a venture.
“Few people would remember that not too many years after I launched the morning Daily Sun in the early 1980s, we had built its circulation to about two-thirds of The Courier-Mail,” Moore told The Bug.
“But when the afternoon Telegraph shut its doors in April 1988, someone – I can’t remember who now – made the clever suggestion that we move the Daily Sun into that vacated afternoon market.
“The result was exactly as expected.”
The Bug understands The Late Mail will be printed in Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns and will be a free paper distributed widely throughout marginal seats just to the north of Brisbane and splashed about in key Cairns and Townsville electorates.
The new masthead will have a trial run lasting until Saturday, October 31.