Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The News Letter
The News Letter is one of Northern Ireland's main daily news papers, published Monday to Saturday.
The newspaper's editorial stance and readership is (largely) Unionist. Its primary competitors are the Belfast Telegraph (which is also Unionist in outlook) and the Irish News which adopts a (largely) Irish nationalist perspective.
The News Letter was part of the Trinity Mirror newspaper group until late-2003 when it was acquired by the 3i group headed by former Mirror Group Newspapers chairman, David Montgomery. It is now operated by a holding company entitled Local Press Ltd.
Founded in 1737, the News Letter claims to be the oldest continually published English language daily newspaper still in existence.
The full legal title of the newspaper is the ""Belfast News Letter"" though the word Belfast does not appear on the masthead anymore. The title is usually referred to incorrectly as the Newsletter due to the unclear use of a half-space in the masthead. This problem also happened to De Lorean motors.
Founded in 1737, the News Letter was printed in Joy's Entry in Belfast, named after Protestant Irish Republican Henry Joy McCracken, and was published by the original owner under the "sign of the Peacock" in Bridge Street. Originally published weekly, it became daily in 1855. The title is now located in the utilitarian Boucher industrial estate.
According to the newspaper's owners, "the News Letter...[can claim] the first genuine "world exclusive". The boat carrying the first copy to leave America of the Declaration of Independence, and bound for London, hit stormy waters off the north coast of Ireland. The boat sought refuge in Londonderry port and arrangements were made for the declaration to be sent on horseback to Belfast, where it would be met by another ship for delivery to King George III.
Somehow, and in the best traditions of revelatory journalism, the News Letter editor of the day gained access to the priceless document and duly published it on the front page of the August 23, 1776 edition. Today there is a constant demand for copies of that famous and historical front page."
The News Letter has historically been a hardline Unionist title, however when it was purchased by the Mirror Group in the 1990s Montgomery, then still with MGN, moved it to a more pro-peace process position. This was continued under the stewardship of the then editor, Nigel Wareing, formerly of the Guardian Media Group.
The News Letter was sold by Trinity-Mirror to a venture capital firm 3i in late 2003. In 2004 3i formed a new company, Local Publishing Ltd, to publish the News Letter and its stablemates, the Derry Journal and the Donegal Democrat.
In 2004 The Belfast based title marked a rightward turn in editorial stance with a leader on page two of the newspaper entitled, “Putting the Pride back in Protestant”.
Local Publishing is headed by former Mirror group chief executive, the Northern Irish born David Montgomery. Montgomery is widely attributed to be the source of the editorial which claims that Protestants in ‘Ulster’ have been forgotten as part of the peace process.
The News Letter has faced a decline in circulation since the 1980s, losing many of its ageing, largely rural readers to the graveyard year-on-year. Circulation currently stands at approximately 20,000, but this includes the Farming Life supplement on Saturdays which unlike the News Letter itself, is read across the sectarian divide in Northern Ireland.
The News Letter is widely known for suffering from terrible print quality to this day with heavy ink and off-register printing. Journalism is considered to be of a fairly low standard for a paper which attempts to position itself as "the quality morning read". This has not been helped by a series of redundancies in editorial staff.
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