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Here you will find some fascinating facts you may
not have known about The New Zealand Herald


Left to Right: William Wilson; the original Herald building;
Herald staff at work laying out pages; the current printing presses at Ellerslie

A brief history of The New Zealand Herald


The New Zealand Herald was born in 1863 but its DNA goes back to 1840s. The founder, W.C. Wilson, had been joint proprietor of the New Zealander in the 1840s and 1850s before he broke away to set up the new paper with his friend and colleague David Burn in 1863.


The first edition of the Herald came off the presses on the inauspicious date of Friday 13 November and for much of its first decade it was engaged in a struggle for survival. Not only did the paper have to battle through difficult economic times but it came up against 10 different rivals in a daily newspaper market that was big enough for only two.


But the Herald prevailed against the odds and in 1876 Wilson's sons -- Joseph and William -- reached an agreement with Alfred Horton, proprietor of the Daily Southern Cross, to amalgamate the two papers.


The New Zealand Herald and Daily Southern Cross came out on the first day of 1877 in a deal that further cemented its links to history -- the Southern Cross was founded in the 1840s -- but more importantly established the Herald as THE morning newspaper for Auckland, a position it has occupied for 149 years.


Under the partnership of Wilson and Horton, the Herald became a leader in technology introducing the first rotary press in New Zealand in the 1880s which meant much faster production of a bigger, more sophisticated newspaper. In the 1890s it began using linotype machines to set type -- a job previously done by hand -- and this was the last great technological revolution before the late 20th century.


By the 1890s it was recognised as the "leading journal" in New Zealand. For much of the 20th century the paper was conservative in appearance as well as outlook. It ran classified advertisements on the front page, confining major news events to the inside of the paper. For instance, Ed Hillary's conquest of Mount Everest in 1953 did not appear until page 8 following the classifieds and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.


In August 1960 advertising finally gave way to news on the front and there were more big changes in the last decades of the 20th century.  In the 1980s and 1990s computer production methods were introduced making the old linotype machines obsolete.


In 1996 the paper changed hands when Dr Tony O'Reilly's International News & Media took control. What followed was an era of accelerated evolution as the paper was transformed and it extended its reach on the internet. The process began in 1997 when the paper was reconfigured, redesigned and recreated. The following year the Weekend Herald was set up as a separate title and the nzherald.co.nz website was launched.


In 2004 the portfolio of Herald titles was completed with the Herald on Sunday, a compact paper which quickly established itself as the best read Sunday paper in the Auckland market with a circulation now topping 100,000. In 2010 nzherald.co.nz launched its acclaimed iPad app.


Herald titles -- now owned by APN News and Media -- have been outstanding performers at the annual newspaper awards in New Zealand winning the coveted newspaper-of-the year prize eight times since 1999 (Weekend Herald 4, New Zealand Herald 2, Herald on Sunday 2) as well as 13 prizes in the best daily and best weekly categories. On the digital front, nzherald.co.nz has been named best website four times since 2007.


This impressive performance is backed up with circulation and readership figures.  A steady circulation at around 170,000 for seven consecutive audit periods and a sharply increased readership online saw the Herald brand audience rising significantly in 2011-12. On an average business day about 360,000 unique browsers visit our site. The Herald usually gets about 2.4 million page views of content a day. Around 80,000 people "like" the Herald Facebook page and we are closing in on 50,000 followers on Twitter.


In terms of readership this meant  that 1.33 million people engaged with Herald journalism in print or online over a week according to Nielsen, an increase of 56,000 on the previous period. The daily brand audience was 818,000.


Far from resting on its laurels, the paper embarked on the biggest change of all in September 2012 when, after nearly 150 years as a broadsheet, it was reconfigured as a compact in parallel with a redesign of nzherald.co.nz.




2012 APN