Sunderland Echo

Sunderland Echo

Infobox Newspaper
name = Sunderland Echo

caption = The paper's 1 July 2008 front page
latitude = 54.9004
longitude = -1.4076
type = Daily newspaper
format = Tabloid
foundation = 22 December 1873 (as "The Sunderland Echo and Shipping Gazette")
price = UK£ 0.42 Monday-Saturday
owners = Johnston Press
circulation = 44,198 daily
headquarters = Echo House
Pennywell Sunderland SR4 9ER
editor = Rob Lawson
publisher = Northeast Press
political = Independent
assoceditor =
staff = 20
language = English
website =
The "Sunderland Echo" is an evening provincial newspaper serving the Sunderland, South Tyneside and East Durham areas of North East England. The newspaper was founded by Samuel Storey, Edward Backhouse, Edward Temperley Gourley, Charles Palmer, Richard Ruddock, Thomas Glaholm and Thomas Scott Turnbull in 1873, as the "Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette". Designed to provide a platform for the Radical views held by Storey and his partners, it was also Sunderland's first local daily paper.

The inaugural edition of the "Echo" was printed in Press Lane, Sunderland on 22 December 1873; 1,000 copies were produced and sold for a halfpenny each. The "Echo" survived intense competition in its early years, as well as the depression of the 1930s and two World Wars. Sunderland was heavily bombed in the Second World War and, although the "Echo" building was undamaged, it was forced to print its competitor's paper under wartime rules. It was during this time that the paper's format changed, from a broadsheet to its current tabloid layout, because of national newsprint shortages.

The "Echo" is published Monday–Saturday at Echo House, Pennywell Industrial Estate, Sunderland by Northeast Press and is part of the Johnston Press group—one of the United Kingdom's largest publishers of local and regional newspapers. [cite web|url=|title=Johnston joins the digital revolution|accessdate=2008-02-24 |author=Andrew Murray-Watson|work = The Independent |date=2 September 2007] As of July 2008, the paper had an average daily circulation in excess of 40,000, with over 100,000 readers, and a very active website.cite web|url=|title=Circulation figures|accessdate=2008-02-24 |publisher=Newspaper Society |year=2007] It retails at 42 pence.cite web|url=|title=Your value Echo|accessdate=2008-07-17|publisher="Sunderland Echo" |date=3 March 2008]

General overview

Facts and figures

The "Sunderland Echo" is an award-winning evening newspaper, published from Monday to Saturday each week at Echo House, Pennywell, Sunderland. The paper has a daily circulation of 44,198, with an overall readership of 110,748. The "Echo" website records over 1.7 million page impressions each month and has more than 250,000 unique users. The news coverage provided by the "Echo" focuses mainly on local events, including human interest, crime and court stories, as well as reports on the local Premier League football team, Sunderland AFC.cite web|url=|title=For the news that matters to you|accessdate=2008-02-24 |author=Katy Wheeler |publisher="Sunderland Echo" |date=9 May 2008] During the football season, the "Echo" also publishes a "Football Echo" edition each Saturday, providing a round-up of general sporting news and football fixture results.cite web|url=|title=Football Echo|accessdate=2008-02-24 |publisher="Sunderland Echo" |year=2007]

Reader profile statistics suggest that 47% of "Echo" readers are male, and 53% are female. The highest proportion of readers, 29%, are between the ages of 15 and 24. The second highest proportion, at 26%, are aged over 65 and the lowest, at 13%, are in the 45–54 age group.cite web|url=|format=PDF|title=Media and marketing information|accessdate=2008-02-24 |publisher=North East Press |year=2008] Independent research carried out for the "Echo" in 2000 found readers spent an average of 33 minutes reading the paper. The same survey showed the "Echo" appealed to people across the range of demographics, with between 44 and 50% of people in each socio-economic grouping being regular readers.

Circulation and supplements

The "Sunderland Echo" covers a circulation area of convert|20|sqmi|km2 in North East England, which includes parts of South Tyneside and County Durham, as well as the city of Sunderland. Whitburn, Marsden and The Boldons, all to the north of Sunderland, are among the South Tyneside communities covered. Peterlee, Horden, Seaham, Dawdon, Murton and Seaton, to the south of Sunderland, are the main towns and villages in the East Durham circulation area. The paper is also sold in Washington, Burnmoor and Durham, which are to the west of Sunderland. Villages on the outskirts of the city, including Houghton-le-Spring, Penshaw, Fencehouses, Ryhope and Hetton-le-Hole are included in the circulation area too.cite web|url=|title=Home page for the Sunderland Echo|accessdate=2008-02-24 |publisher="Sunderland Echo" |year=2008] The main newspaper rivals in the Sunderland and County Durham area include "The Northern Echo", "The Journal", the "Hartlepool Mail" and the "Evening Chronicle". The "Sunderland Star", a free weekly newspaper printed by the "Echo", is also distributed in the city. [cite web|url=|title=Newspaper Report for the publication: Sunderland Star |accessdate=2007-03-06|publisher=The Newspaper Society|year=2007 ] cite web|url=|title=World-Newspapers Europe UK North East|accessdate=2008-07-15 |publisher=World Newspapers website |year=2008] According to independent research conducted on behalf of the "Echo" in 2000, the "popularity of the "Echo" in Sunderland and East Durham is greater than that of all other regional newspapers put together".cite book |title=Simply the best! |date=21 November 2000 |publisher="Sunderland Echo" |pages=Page 3]

In addition to the main newspaper, the "Echo" also produces a number of regular supplements and articles of specialist interest each week. These include sport and business supplements each Monday, a "Down Your Way" local news supplement on Tuesdays, jobs, junior football and nostalgia features on Wednesdays, an entertainment supplement, cars guide and nostalgia stories on Thursdays and a property pull-out on Fridays. The Saturday edition includes a leisure pull-out, featuring fashion, entertainment and restaurant reviews, while a local history nostalgia supplement, "Retro", is published once a fortnight on Mondays.cite web|url=|title=Retro|accessdate=2008-02-24 |publisher="Sunderland Echo" |year=2008] Two nostalgia calendars, featuring old photographs of Sunderland and Seaham, are also produced each year. [cite web|url=|title=Your favourite photos |accessdate=2007-03-06|author=Sarah Stoner|publisher="Sunderland Echo"|date=27 September 2007 ]

Early years


The first edition of the "Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette" was printed on 22 December 1873, on a flat-bed press in Press Lane, Sunderland.cite web|url=|title=Behind the Scenes|author=Sarah Stoner|accessdate=2008-02-24 |publisher="Sunderland Echo" |date=14 September 2005] Five hundred copies of the four-page issue were produced at noon and 4 pm, and sold for a halfpenny each.cite book |title=How the "Echo" came to be |date=3 April 1902 |publisher="Sunderland Daily Echo" |pages=Page 3 ] [Footnote reference: This version of "halfpenny" refers to the older currency, not the post-1971 decimal half-penny piece. According to the website, a halfpenny in 1873 had a current purchasing power of 14.5 pence] At present the "Echo" is printed on a £12 million full-colour press, installed at its purpose-built base in Pennywell, Sunderland, in 1996. More than 44,000 copies are printed each day, which sell for 42 pence each.

Samuel Storey, a former teacher and future Sunderland mayor and Member of Parliament, founded the paper to provide a platform for his political views and to fill a gap in the newspaper market.cite book |title=Sunderland: River, Town and People|author=Stuart Miller|year=1990 |publisher=Borough of Sunderland Council |pages=Pages 126, 128, 132, 133, 134, 135, 138, 146|isbn=0947637060] Although the 100,000-strong population of Sunderland was already served by two weekly newspapers—"The Sunderland Times" and "The Sunderland Herald"—neither reflected the radical views held by Storey and his partners and there were no daily papers in the town.cite web|url=|title=The Sunderland Echo|accessdate=2008-02-24 |publisher=Wearside online website |year=2007] Storey promised readers in the first edition that, if things went wrong, "the "Echo" would try its best to put them right". But he added: "Always with moderation and without esteeming all those who oppose us as fools and knaves."cite book |title=Our promise |date=22 December 1873 |publisher="Sunderland Daily Echo" |pages=Page 2 ] Early copies of the "Echo" included lengthy reports of Liberal meetings, and critical articles on Liberal opponents.

The "Sunderland Echo" was launched with an initial investment of £3,500, raised by donations of £500 each from Storey and his business partners. [Footnote reference: According to the website, £3,500 in 1873 had a purchasing power equivalent to about £242,240.36 today.] Those joining the venture were Quaker banker Edward Backhouse, shipbroker and MP Edward Temperley Gourley, shipbuilder and MP Sir Charles Palmer, newspaper editor Richard Ruddock, rope-maker Thomas Glaholm and draper Thomas Scott Turnbull. Lack of experience—only Ruddock had previous knowledge of newspaper management—and over-optimistic estimates of costs meant that the initial funds were quickly exhausted.cite book |title=Echo founding fathers |date=22 December 1923 |publisher="Sunderland Daily Echo" |pages=Page 7 ] Storey later admitted: "In our childlike, simple ways, we thought this might be sufficient, but in a few months all the money was gone, so we paid in another £3,500 and that soon went too." As the prospect of any great financial success receded, Ruddock, Gourley and Palmer withdrew from the project. Storey, however, remained dedicated to the idea, and took on their shares. [cite web|url=|format=PDF|title=Share history|accessdate=2008-02-24 |publisher=Competition Commission |year=2007] A further £7,000 in investment from Storey enabled the remaining partners to abandon the "wheezing flat-bed press" and, in July 1876, the "Echo" moved to new premises at 14 Bridge Street, Sunderland.

Bridge Street

Bridge Street remained the home of the "Echo" for the next 100 years.cite web|url=|title=Fond memories of the old Echo office |accessdate=2008-07-01 |author=Rob Ford|publisher="Sunderland Echo" |date=16 June 2005] Old buildings were demolished, new machine and composing rooms built on West Wear Street and two rotary presses installed just before the move, each capable of printing 24,000 copies an hour. These changes brought about increased circulation, but it took another seven years before the "Echo" made a profit. It was a time of intense competition; the "Sunderland Times" converted from a bi-weekly to a daily paper in the same month as the "Echo" moved to Bridge Street, and Tory supporters started a paper of their own, the "Sunderland Daily Post". The "Sunderland Times" was the first to collapse, but the "Post" survived for the next quarter of a century, providing the "Echo" with an often bitter rival.

Following the deaths of two further partners, Backhouse in 1879 and Turnbull in 1880, Storey bought their shares to become the "Echo"'s chief proprietor. A year later, in 1881, he met Scottish-born millionaire Andrew Carnegie, and formed a syndicate with him to set up new newspapers and buy up others. Among those purchased were the "Wolverhampton Express and Star", the "Northern Daily Mail" in Hartlepool and the "Portsmouth Evening News". An attempt to buy the "Shields Gazette", the country's oldest daily newspaper, failed. The syndicate finally broke up in 1885, with Storey retaining control of the "Echo", "Hampshire Telegraph", "Portsmouth News" and the "Northern Daily Mail". These papers formed the basis of a new company, Portsmouth and Sunderland Newspapers Ltd, formed in the 1930s. The 19th century ended with the rivalry between the "Echo" and the "Sunderland Daily Post" intensifying. The Silksworth Colliery strike of 1891 pitted the two papers against each other, with the "Post" attacking Storey for having exploited the strike for political gain. Storey successfully sued for libel.

20th century


The new century saw the "Echo" falling behind the times in its production methods. Established as a "leading daily newspaper", it was one of the last to still be setting type by hand in 1900. This changed in 1902, when Linotype lead-setting machines were brought in to set type mechanically.cite book |title=The Echo through the ages |date=28 November 1998 |publisher="Sunderland Echo" |pages=Page 4 ] A landslide victory for the Liberal Party followed at the 1906

The First World War brought its own difficulties for the "Echo". Reporters went off to battle and, after the cost of newsprint soared, the paper was forced to double in price to a penny. The "Echo"'s 50th anniversary in 1923 was marked by a visit from company chairman Samuel Storey. Storey died two years later, three months after his eldest son Fred, and the chairmanship passed to another Samuel—Fred's elder son. In the same year, plans were laid to improve the Bridge Street premises. The work included enlarging the printing works and was completed by the end of the 1920s.

Depression years

The depression of the 1930s brought mass unemployment to Sunderland. But, for the "Echo", it was a also time of important structural changes in ownership. A new company controlling the three titles owned by the Storey family was formed in 1934—Portsmouth and Sunderland Newspapers Ltd. There was a change in name for the "Echo" too, when the word "Daily" was dropped from its title of "Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette". The decade also, however, brought a fire which destroyed most of the bound files of archive copies of the "Echo". Nineteenth-century editions of the "Echo" can only be accessed in Sunderland at the City Centre Library in Fawcett Street.

econd World War

The Second World War brought havoc to Wearside, with Sunderland one of the seven most heavily bombed towns in the country.cite web|url=|title=Hitler: his part in our town fall|accessdate=2008-02-24 |author=Carol Roberton |publisher="Sunderland Echo"|date=13 May 2005 ] Despite the heavy shelling of the North East coast and River Wear, the "Echo" offices and printing plant escaped undamaged. The "Shields Gazette", the "Echo's" nearest rival, was not as fortunate. Its premises in Chapter Row, South Shields, were bombed in September 1941 and, under an emergency wartime arrangement, the paper was printed on the "Echo" presses.cite web|url=|title=Incidents 11 September, 1941 to 1 October, 1941|accessdate=2008-02-24 |author=Brian Pears |publisher=North-East Diary 1939-1945 website|year=2005|Quote="The Shields Gazette Offices and Printing Works received a direct hit by heavy calibre bombs, the whole printing department and part of the offices were wrecked." ] The "Echo" continued to be published throughout the war, despite paper rationing, a lack of reporters and a strict censorship of photographs. [cite web|url=|title=Can you help us tell Wearside's wartime tale|accessdate=2008-02-24 |author=Carol Roberton |publisher="Sunderland Echo"|date=26 February 2007] The war did have one major impact on the "Echo"—in the form of its size. Wartime restrictions on newsprint reduced the former broadsheet to its present tabloid size, and this style has been retained ever since.cite book |title=70 Years Old Today |date=22 December 1943 |publisher="Sunderland Echo" |pages=Page 2]

Post-war changes and centenary

The post-war years saw the "Echo" drop "Shipping Gazette" from its main title-piece, following a redesign in 1959. Instead, the paper became known as "Echo Sunderland" for several years, although the name "Sunderland Echo and Shipping Gazette" continued to be printed in much smaller type above the new title. A further title-piece redesign in 1972, however, dispensed with the words "Shipping Gazette" and introduced an illustration of Wearmouth Bridge alongside the title "Echo Sunderland".

Following a major refurbishment of the Bridge Street base in the mid-1960s, the next milestones for the paper came in 1973. The first was Sunderland A.F.C.'s 1–0 win over Leeds United in the FA Cup Final. Ian Porterfield's winning goal was headline news at the time, giving the "Echo" its all-time record circulation figure of 95,000 copies of the "Sports Echo". [cite web|url=|title=1973 Cup Final|accessdate=2008-02-24 |publisher="Sunderland Echo" |date=25 January 2008] The second important event of 1973 was the 100th anniversary of the paper. Celebrations included a birthday party, with dignitaries such as Sunderland A.F.C. manager Bob Stokoe among the guests. Lord Buckton, the chairman of Portsmouth and Sunderland Newspapers Ltd, announced his retirement at the event, and was succeeded by his son, The Honourable Richard Storey. News of a move from Bridge Street to Pennywell, Sunderland, was also announced during the anniversary celebrations. The old newspaper building has since been replaced by a modern apartment block. The "Echo" name still lives on, however, as the project as been named "Echo24".cite web|url=|title=End of an Era as Demolition Begins at Echo Building|accessdate=2008-02-24|publisher=Echo24 website |date=16 August 2006]

Modern era

Decades of change

The "Echo" moved from Bridge Street to a purpose-built newspaper office at Echo House, Pennywell Industrial Estate in 1976. The move brought an end to the traditional methods of printing using hot molten metal to produce type and printing plates, and introduced computer technology. The £4 million development saw the "Echo" become the first daily newspaper in the North East to be completely produced by photo-composition and web-offset printing. It also saw a change in the "Echo"'s appearance, with a new shape, bolder typefaces and clearer printing. The first new-look "Echo" was printed at Pennywell on 26 April 1976 and was issue number 32,512.

Another change inspired by the move was a return for the "Football Echo" man. The cartoon character had for years indicated the match results of Sunderland with a smile, a frown or a tear, while adorning the outside wall of the Bridge Street building. After several years in storage, he was returned to the wall of the new "Echo" building in 1976, where he still remains today. [cite web|url=|title=Echoman|accessdate=2008-02-24 |publisher="Sunderland Echo" |date=6 August 2007]

In 1985 there was a break in tradition when the "Echo" title-piece appeared reversed out in white on a red background, instead of the more familiar red or black lettering. The new title-piece was designed to give a greater impact to the colourful front page. It was the first in a series of changes which included dropping "Sunderland" from the title in 1990, the paper simply becoming "The Echo". This change was reversed in 1997, with a return to the name "Sunderland Echo".cite book |title=Echo Sunderland Title gets Update |date=9 August 1985 |publisher="Sunderland Echo"|pages=Page 7 ]

Technological changes

The 1990s saw the "Echo" take a huge technological leap forward when a £12 million printing press was installed. It was used for the first time in December 1996 and was capable of printing up to 70,000 newspapers an hour. The press was part of a multi-million pound revamp, which also saw journalists making up full news pages on computer screens for the first time. The "Echo"'s first internet news service was also launched in 1996. A further £5 million was spent on updating the pre-press and press hall area in 2004, to improve printing quality and speed of production. [cite web|url= m/|title=Sunderland Echo invests £5 m|accessdate=2008-02-24 |author=Josh Brooks|publisher=Print Week website|date=September 3, 2004]

The "Echo" was still part of Portsmouth and Sunderland Newspapers until the end of the 1990s, although printed by Northeast Press, a subsidiary of the main company. However, the last link to the original founder, Samuel Storey, disappeared in 1999, when Johnston Press took over the business in May that year. The "Sunderland Echo" is still published by Northeast Press, although Johnston Press—the nation's second largest regional publisher—now owns the whole company. [cite web|url=|title=Northeast Press history|accessdate=2008-02-24 |publisher="Shields Gazette"|year=2007]

On-line revolution

As of July 2008, the "Echo" is still published each Monday to Saturday at Echo House, but the newspaper can also be read on-line. The "Echo's" new-look website was launched in February 2007, while a digital editing suite was created within the office at the same time. The audio-visual equipment now allows reporters to both write about and film stories as they happen, and the articles can be published on-line within seconds.cite web|url=|title=Echo digital|accessdate=2008-02-24 |author=Cara Houchen|publisher="Sunderland Echo"|date=22 February 2008] cite web|url=|title=Local Heroes|accessdate=2008-03-24 |author=Martin Wainwright|publisher="The Guardian"|date=3 March 2008]

Statistics show that almost 80,000 people visited the "Echo"'s website in January 2007, and this figure had risen to 216,000 by January 2008.cite web|url=|title=Record traffic for Sunderland Echo website|accessdate=2008-02-24 |author=holdthefrontpage staff|publisher=Hold the Front Page website |date=20 March 2008] The website is updated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with stories including football match reports and football transfer rumours among the most popular. Slideshows, videos and podcasts are also included on the site in addition to the news of the day.

Awards and recognition

The "Echo" has won numerous accolades, as well as government praise, for its campaigning journalism, specialist writing, community work, photographic images and appeals for good causes over the decades.cite web|url=|title=Mail and Echo sweep the board at new press awards|accessdate=2008-02-24 |author=holdthefrontpage staff |publisher=Hold The Front Page website|date=10 April 2008] [cite web|url=|title=Gazette scoops six in North East Press Awards|accessdate=2008-02-24 |author=holdthefrontpage staff |publisher=Hold The Front Page website|date=18 May 2004] Examples of notable writing include a 2006 campaign highlighting the threat posed by bogus callers to the elderly and a 2005 campaign to protect 999 crews from being attacked on duty, which both received official praise in Parliament.cite web|url=|title=Echo wins praise in Parliament|accessdate=2008-02-24 |author=holdthefrontpage staff |publisher=Hold The Front Page website|date=8 November 2006] cite web|url=|title=Praise in Commons for Echo campaign|accessdate=2008-02-24 |author=Sunderland Echo staff |publisher="Sunderland Echo"|year=2005] A 1996 drug education campaign, which included the creation of a telephone service for tip-offs about suspected local drug dealers, was also highly praised. The "Newspaper Society" named the "Echo" as its Campaigning Newspaper of the Year for the "Drug Busters" drive, and the campaign also won an award from the "International Newspaper Marketing Association".cite book |title=We've Cracked It! |year=19 April 1996 |publisher="Sunderland Echo" |pages=Page 3]

In the 135 years of its existence, the "Echo" has become part of the culture of the North East of England and a replica branch office of the "Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette" was built at the open air Beamish Museum in County Durham in 1991.cite book |title=Echoes of the past for north museum|year= May 1991 |publisher="Sunderland Echo" |pages=Page 7 ] Designed to show visitors how the newspaper would have operated in around 1913, the life-size exhibit includes a distribution office, reporter's office, stationary shop and fully working printing press.cite book |title=All our yesterdays |year=10 May 1999 |publisher="Sunderland Echo" |pages=Page 6 ] The replica office took museum staff several months to research and create, and was opened by Sir Richard Storey, great-grandson of "Echo" founder Samuel Storey, on 10 May 1991.

A racehorse was named after the paper in 1991, which was owned by a consortium of 250 "Echo" readers. The gelding won races at Hamilton, Redcar, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Haydock in the early 1990s, but had to be put down on 17 February 1996 after pulling up badly lame during a routine morning gallop.cite book |title=Echo horse put down after tragic injury |year=17 February 1996 |publisher="Sunderland Echo" |pages=Page 27 ] The "Echo" was also used in a display at the Science Museum in London in 1999, to show how writing can be made simpler for people with reading difficulties, and a specially printed edition of the newspaper appeared on the TV show Touching Evil, starring Robson Green, in the same year.cite book |title=Your Echo's a star! |year=23 January 1999 |publisher="Sunderland Echo" |pages=Page 17 ] cite book |title=Echo goes to Science Museum to help people to read again |year=23 March 1999 |publisher="Sunderland Echo" |pages=Page 8]


Further reading

*Bean, William Wardell: "Parliamentary Representation of the Six Northern Counties" Hull Publishing, 1890 (held in the Robinson Library, University of Newcastle)
* "The Durham Thirteen: Biographical sketches of the Members of Parliament returned for the City, Boroughs, and County of Durham, at the general election of 1874" Published by J Hyslop Bell, Darlington, 1874
* "Book and News Trade Gazette" Published 6 October 1894
* "The Alderman" (magazine) Published 8 April 1876
*"Wearside Review: Local notabilities" Published by the "Sunderland Daily Echo", 1886

External links

* [ Wearsideonline:] A brief history of the "Echo"
* [ Hold The Front Page:] "Echo" awards and stories about the paper.

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