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Port Pirie standard and Barrier advertiser
Title : Port Pirie standard and Barrier advertiser Port Pirie standard and Barrier advertiser
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Source : Port Pirie standard and Barrier advertiser, 7 December 1893, p. 1
Date of creation : 1893
Format : Newspaper
Dimensions : 610 x 450 mm
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In 1889 James Cowan and Fred Grey established a second Port Pirie newspaper, the Port Pirie standard, in competition with the longer running Port Pirie advocate. Cowan was a politician and businessman with interests in many mining ventures, and founder of the Port Pirie Coke Company. Grey was a Port Pirie auctioneer and shipping agent. Walter Targett of Broken Hill became the newspaper's first editor.

Competition Initially there was some natural animosity between the Standard and the Advocate. An editorial, "Land nationalisation on the brain", called for the "chief apostles" of this socialistic theory of land ownership (who frequently expressed their views in the rival Advocate) to "give their fad a rest for a while" (1 March 1889, p. 2). Targett satirised these "angry apostles," particularly the two most prominent - Andrew Dungey, and the Town Clerk, William Wilson. The Advocate responded to Targett's "Chronicles of Port Pirie" by printing "The true chronicles of Port Pirie" which included personal comments about Targett's weight (Port Pirie advocate 22 March 1889, p. 3). Despite all this, just six months after it was founded, the newspaper claimed to have "the largest circulation of any paper published in the district" (19 June 1889, p. 1).

Politics From the start the Standard claimed that it was a "liberal and progressive journal" (4 January 1889, p. 1). The Standard fully supported the agitation of workers for better conditions, reporting sympathetically on the strike by 250 Port Pirie stevedores in 1889 (20 November 1889, p. 2). From late 1890, during the famous 'shearer's strike' the Standard was full of reports of South Australia's "Great Strike" which it described as "the stern reality of a bitter struggle between capital and labor" (18 September 1890, p. 2). When a local Trades and Labor Council was formed in 1891, the Standard described the event as marking "an epoch in the history of the town" (9 April 1891, p. 2). By this time there were eight unions in Port Pirie.

The author of the column "Social chat by Wideawake" was perhaps ahead of his time when he wrote of workplace conditions "Men ruin their health at the smelters and refinery" (30 April 1891, p. 4). In 1892 the Standard printed a letter from Robert Semple about the case of a worker suffering from lead poisoning. Semple advocated the establishing by mining companies of places for treating sick workers, "It would not be much out of the pockets of the shareholders" (26 May 1892, p. 3).

From 1895, under the editor/owner Charles Meyrick, the Standard expressed strong disagreement with the Labor government of Charles Kingston, as well as for the work of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. "While the use of strong drinks to an unlimited extent is to be deplored, we fail to see why the ideas of those few ladies, who represent a minority, should be forced down the throats of the majority" (26 September 1895, p. 2). In both cases, however, it was in fact the editor who was out of step with the majority, as both Kingston and the W.C.T.U. exercised enormous influence on creating social change in South Australia in the 1890s.

Sport Reports of local sport was a prominent feature of the Standard from its first issue, and followed the practice of the Adelaide newspapers in having a variety of writers contributing regular reports on the different sports. Its first issue included "Sporting notes by Mentor", and three months later, in March, 1889, additional sporting columns were added, with "Acquatic notes by Waterman" and "Football notes by the punter". The very early entry of country women into the sporting arena is reflected in reports of the meeting of the ladies' cricket clubs of Belalie East and Jamestown, at Bundaleer Springs in 1889 (29 March 1889, p. 2). In 1897 the writer of the short-lived 'New Woman' column said, "I make free use of the bicycle ... I have hitherto ridden in skirts but I am about to assume the knickerbocker" (7 January 1897, p. 3). This form of dress was considered extremely daring at the time. Baseball was apparently very popular at Port Pirie, with the column "Baseball notes by First Base" in the Standard from July 1889 (3 July 1889, p. 3). However, the most commonly reported sports were horseracing, cricket and football. Other more unusual sports included boxing and lacrosse.

Humour During his short stint as editor of the Broken Hill Argus, Walter Targett "infused a certain vivacity" into that newspaper. (Kapunda herald, 11 January 1889, p. 3), however in the Standard, he mostly resorted to sarcasm, particularly in attacking the rival Port Pirie advocate. Charles Chandler, the next editor, used more light hearted humour. "Mr Nibbs is sick" was written in a style perhaps owing something to Charles Dickens (18 August 1892, p. 3). "Advice to correspondents by Uncle Ned" contained suggested methods for the editor finding a wife (22 September 1892, p. 2). Even reports of Port Pirie Council meetings sometimes took a humorous tone "the matter has been considered by the nine elders who sayeth that they have not the wherewithal to carry out the scheme ..." (6 October 1892, p. 2).

Geographical coverage The Standard did not print 'correspondents' columns from surrounding towns and districts in the way that most country newspapers did in the 19th and early 20th century. The exception was a Port Germein news column which appeared semi-regularly. News items from Laura, Crystal Brook and Wandearah appeared less frequently.

Local history When Charles Meyrick became editor and part-owner of the Standard in late 1895, he announced that a series of articles about "the early settlers of Pirie" would be published. But the Port Pirie Pioneers' column only ran from 26 September 1895 until the end of the year. The issue of 10 May 1898 included a four page supplement, the "Port Pirie commercial review". This included a history of the town with profiles of many leading townsmen.

Illustrations The issue of 17 September 1891 contained a coloured lithograph produced by F.W. Niven of Ballarat "Views of Port Pirie, South Australia". As well as images of 22 local businesses, the art work contained a large panoramic view of the port.

Women It was during the brief editorship of Berkley Dunn that South Australian women received the right to vote. Dunn was strongly against this move, "Who are the females, who in many respects, have practically unsexed themselves, that are now clamouring for this change? ... we cannot believe that the majority of women have anything to gain by securing a franchise" (12 July 1894, p. 2). During Charles Meyrick's editor/ownership, the column "Something to read by a New Woman" was published. The author, a woman, wrote at length about matters such as why some women found husbands more easily than others. The column only lasted for three months, from January to March 1897.

Ownership It is unclear when James Cowan ceased to be involved with the Port Pirie standard. Editor Walter Targett left in December 1889, with Charles Walter Chandler taking over from him. In July 1893 Chandler moved to Adelaide and Berkley Dunn joined the Standard. In September 1895 Charles Meyrick became editor and part owner when Dunn left to oversee his sheep and cattle runs full-time (12 September 1895, p. 2). In July 1896 it was announced that the original owner of the newspaper, Fred Grey, had sold his share to Charles Meyrick (2 July 1896, p. 2). In July 1898 Meyrick amalgamated the Standard with the Port Pirie advocate. In partnership with the Advocate proprietor, Alfred South, Meyrick went on to publish the Port Pirie recorder.

Related names :

Chandler, Charles Walter

Cowan, James, 1848-1890

Dungey, Andrew, 1846-

Dunn, Berkley William Rowe

Grey, Frederick

Kingston, Charles Cameron, 1850-1908

Meyrick, Charles, 1870-1937

Niven, F.W.

Targett, Walter Scott

Wilson, William George

Port Pirie advocate (Port Pirie, S. Aust.)

Port Pirie recorder (Port Pirie, S. Aust.)

Trades and Labor Council (Port Pirie, S. Aust.)

Woman's Christian Temperance Union of South Australia

Coverage year : 1893
Place : Port Pirie, S. Aust.
Region : Mid North
Further reading :

'A change', Port Pirie standard, 12 September 1895, p. 2

'A stage in transition', Port Pirie standard, 20 July 1893, p. 2

'Scratchings from the city,' Kapunda herald, 11 January 1889, p. 3



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