The Argus (Melbourne)

The Argus was a morning daily newspaper in Melbourne, Australia that was established in 1846 and closed in 1957. It was considered to be the general Australian newspaper of record for this period.[1] Widely known as a conservative newspaper for most of its history, it adopted a left-leaning approach from 1949. The Argus's main competitor was David Syme's more liberal-minded newspaper, The Age.


The newspaper was originally owned by William Kerr, a journalist who had worked with The Sydney Gazette before moving to Melbourne in 1839 to work on John Pascoe Fawkner's newspaper, the Port Phillip Patriot.

The first edition was published on 2 June 1846, with the paper soon known for its scurrilous abuse and sarcasm, such that by 1853, Kerr had lost ownership after a series of libel suits. The paper was then published under the name of Edward Wilson.[2]

By the 1880s, Newspaper editor and owner Richard Twopeny (1857-1919) regarded it as "the best daily paper published out of England."[3] The paper become a stablemate to the weekly, The Australasian, which was to become The Australasian Post in 1946.

During the Depression in 1933, it launched the Melbourne Evening Star in competition with The Herald newspaper of The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, but was forced to close the venture in 1936. In 1949 the paper was acquired by the London-based Daily Mirror newspaper group.

On 28 July 1952, The Argus became the first newspaper in the world to publish colour photographs in a daily paper. The paper also had interests in radio and, in 1956, the new medium of television, being part of the consortium General Telecasters Victoria (GTV) and its television station GTV-9.

The company's newspaper operation experienced a severe loss of profitability in the 1950s, attributable to increased costs of newsprint and acute competition for newspaper circulation in Melbourne.

In 1957, the paper was discontinued and sold to the Herald and Weekly Times group (HWT), which undertook to re-employ Argus staff and continue publication of selected features,[4] and HWT made an allocation of shares to the UK owners. The final edition was published on 19 January 1957. The company's other print and broadcasting operations were unaffected.[5]

Ironically, the takeover of The Argus by the powerful Mirror Group, of Fleet Street, led to hopes of a renaissance for The Argus. Fresh capital, new ideas, and new strategies from London. But instead, the new arrivals from England finished up destroying their new possession.[6]

Notable editors and writers

See also


  1. Hirst, John; Suter, Geraldine, eds. (2012). "Index to the Melbourne Argus newspaper (for the period 1870-1889)". La Trobe University. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  2. Three original proprietors The Argus, 9 September 1926, at Trove
  3. R.E.N. Twopeny, Town life in Australia, London, Eliot Stock, 1883, p.222.
  4. Message to Argus readers from The Sun News-Pictorial The Argus, final edition, 19 January 1957 at Trove
  5. Your Last Argus The Argus, 19 January 1957, at Trove
  6. Teichmann, Max The Argus: Life & Death of a Newspaper Book review at, 31 March 2007. Accessed 20 July 2013

Further reading

  • Don Hauser, The Printers of the Streets and Lanes Of Melbourne (1837–1975) Nondescript Press, Melbourne 2006
  • Jim Usher (ed) The Argus – life and death of a newspaper Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne 2008 (ISBN 1 74097 143 4)
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