On 28 August 1933, the Brisbane newspaper, The Courier-Mail, first appeared. The Courier-Mail is a right leaning newspaper with four editorial endorsements for the Coalition to one for Labor in the period 1996–2007.
The Courier-Mail generally supports free market economic policies and the process of globalisation. It supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The history of The Courier-Mail is through four mastheads. The Moreton Bay Courier later became The Courier, then the Brisbane Courier and since 1933 The Courier-Mail.
The Moreton Bay Courier was established as a weekly paper in June 1846. Issue frequency increased steadily to bi-weekly in January 1858, tri-weekly in December 1859, then daily under the editorship of Theophilus Parsons Pugh from 14 May 1861.
The recognised founder and first editor was Arthur Sidney Lyon (1817–1861) who was assisted by its printer, James Swan (1811–1891), the later mayor of Brisbane and member of Queensland Legislative Council.
Lyon, also referred to as the “father of the Press” in the colony of Queensland, had previously served as a writer and journalist in Melbourne, and later moved on to found and edit journals such as Moreton Bay Free Press, North Australian and Darling Downs Gazette.
Lyon was encouraged to emigrate by Rev. Dr. John Dunmore Lang and arrived in Brisbane from Sydney in early 1846 to establish a newspaper. He persuaded James Swan, a printer of Lang’s Sydney newspaper The Colonialist to join him.
Lyon and Swan established themselves on the corner of Queen Street and Albert Street, Brisbane, in a garret of a building later known as the North Star Hotel. The first issue of the Moreton Bay Courier, consisting of 4 pages, appeared weekly on Saturday 20 June 1846, with Lyon as editor and Swan as publisher.
After some 18 months, Lyon and Swan disagreed on many aspects of editorial policy, including transportation of convicts and squatting. Lyon took over sole control in late 1847, but had money problems, and gave sole control to Swan. Swan sold out to Thomas Blacket Stephens in about November 1859.
The Moreton Bay Courier became The Courier, and then the Brisbane Courier in 1864. In June–July 1868, Stephens floated a new company, and transferred the plant and copyright of the Brisbane Courier to “The Brisbane Newspaper Company”. He was the managing director until retired in November 1873, when the paper was auctioned.
The Journal was, from November 1873 to December 1880, managed by one of the new part owners, the Tasmanian-born former public servant Gresley Lukin (1840–1916). Although called ‘managing editor’, actual writing and editing was by William Augustine O’Carroll (1831–1885).
Most prominent of the various editors and sub-editors of the Queenslander ‘literary staff’ were William Henry Traill (1842–1902), later NSW politician and editor of the famed Sydney journal ‘The Bulletin’, and Carl Adolph Feilberg (1844–1887), who was Danish born but from the age of six educated in England and later in France.
Carl Feilberg followed William Henry Trail in the role of political commentator and the de facto editor of the Queenslander to January 1881. He succeeded William O’Carroll as Courier editor-in-chief from September 1883 to his death in October 1887. Lukin’s roles as part owner-editor changed on 21 December 1880.
Charles Hardie Buzacott (1835–1918), former ‘Postmaster General’ in the first McIlwraith government, had been a staff journalist. John James Knight (1863–1927) was editor-in-chief of the Brisbane Courier 1906–16, later managing director, then chairman of all the company’s publications.
The first edition of The Courier-Mail was published on 28 August 1933, after Keith Murdoch’s Herald and Weekly Times acquired and merged the Brisbane Courier and the Daily Mail (first published on 3 October 1903). In 1987, Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited acquired newspaper control, and outstanding shares of Queensland Newspapers Pty Ltd.
The Courier-Mail was inducted into the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame in 2015.