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Memorial University of Newfoundland - Digital Archives Initiative

Western Star



Western Star published in Corner Brook, N.L. 1900-present
(1900-1952 currently digitized)

From the beginning the Western Star was first and foremost a voice for the interests and development of the West Coast of Newfoundland. In 1908, the paper vowed: "We are going to fight in the interest of the West Coast, but without the spur of party interest" (Aug. 5). "Our interests are not identical to those of the East, nor do the Easterners understand our needs ... We need a provincial parliament of our own" (Oct. 7).

The Western Star voiced the opinion that the various political battles in the capital were not necessarily "all-absorbing to the people of this colony," (Apr. 27, 1900) and noted that of all the newspaper editors in the country, only two not actively involved in politics, Evening Herald editor P. T. McGrath, and Western Star editor W. S. March. (Sept. 25, 1900). The paper claimed to be "absolutely free from party politics", and denied accusations that "it is being conducted for the propagation of Toryism, and that it is owned by Reid, the railway contractor" (July 6, 1900). Nonertheless, the paper strongly supported the railway: "We regard the railway and the prosperity of the country as inseparable" (Oct. 23, 1900). The Western Star had especially strong coverage of the forestry industry, mining and the herring fishery, and recognized the potential of the tourist trade before its eastern counterparts did.

Because the West Coast was isolated and often cut off by winter storms, in 1903 the paper announced, "At large cost we have arranged for a daily Telegraphic news message from St. John's ... The difficulty of putting out a newspaper in a place shut off from all communication can be better appreciated by members of the profession than the general public." (Mar. 4, 1903)

The paper was printed on a hand operated press until 1912 and used hand-set type until 1931. In 1910, it became the first paper to be printed on Newfoundland newsprint.(61) The paper moved to a more modern plant in Corner Brook in 1941.

Editorially, the Western Star opposed Bond and supported Morris and, in 1908, the banner of "The People's Party" appeared on the masthead. The paper opposed W. F. Coaker and referred to his paper, the Advocate as "that notorious sheet," but later supported the Squires government. In the elections of 1928 and 1932, theWestern Star took the nearly unprecedented option of remaining politically neutral and encouraged other journalists to do the same. It was neutral in its attitude toward the Commission of Government and, while leaning toward Confederation in 1948, encouraged voters to decide for themselves on the question.

During the Smallwood era, the Western Star voiced concern about the lack of a viable opposition party, criticised the Liberals for not holding nominating conventions and accused Smallwood of gutter politics for his personal attacks on those who disagreed with him. One unusually outspoken editorial asked: "What politician bases all (yes all) his associations with people on how they think politically? What politician unleashes the hardest invectives against newspaper and radio reporters at the mildest provocations? What super public relations man disregards the meaning of public relations, and reveals only those morsels of information best suited to his political whim?" (Nov. 22, 1958)

With the closing of the Daily News in 1984, the Western Star became one of the two remaining dailies in the province. A partial index to the Western Star is available in the Provincial Reference and Resource Library.

Becoming a daily in 1954, as of 2013, the Western Star has a weekly circulation of about 52,500, half within Corner Brook and the rest distributed

From Suzanne Ellison's Historical Directory of Newfoundland and Labrador Newspapers http://www.library.mun.ca/cns/nlnews/



Click here to see other Newfoundland and Labrador newspapers available on the DAI.

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