The Courier-Mail

Front page of The Courier-Mail, 25 July 2008, with the aftermath of the Liberal National Party merger headlining.
Type Daily newspaper
Format Tabloid
Owner(s) News Corp Australia
Publisher Queensland Newspapers
Editor Mr J Root ECB[1]
Founded 1846
Language English
Headquarters Brisbane, Australia
41 Campbell St
Bowen Hills QLD 4006
Circulation 172,801 Monday–Friday
228,650 Saturday
ISSN 1322-5235

The Courier-Mail is a daily tabloid newspaper published in Brisbane, Australia. Owned by News Corp Australia, it is published daily from Monday to Saturday in tabloid format. Its editorial offices are located at Bowen Hills, in Brisbane's inner northern suburbs, and it is printed at Murarrie, in Brisbane's eastern suburbs. It is available for purchase throughout Queensland, most regions of Northern New South Wales and parts of the Northern Territory.


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.[2] 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.[3][4] [5]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".[6] He was the managing director until retired in November 1873, when the paper was auctioned.[7][8]

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.[9]

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.

Political position

The Courier-Mail is a right of center newspaper with four editorial endorsements for the coalition to one for Labor in the period 1996–2007.[10] The Courier-Mail generally supports free market economic policies and the process of globalisation. It supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Circulation and readership

The Courier-Mail has the fourth-highest circulation of any daily newspaper in Australia. Its average Monday-Friday net paid print sales were 172,801 between January and March 2013, having fallen 8.0 per cent compared to the previous year. Its average Saturday net paid print sales were 228,650 between January and March 2013, down 10.5 per cent compared to the previous year.[11]

The paper's Monday-Friday readership was 488,000 in March 2013, having fallen 11.6 per cent compared to the previous year. Its Saturday readership was 616,000 in March 2013, down 13.8 per cent compared to the previous year.[11] Around three-quarters of the paper's readership is located in the Brisbane metropolitan area.[12]

Although often claimed to be Brisbane's only daily newspaper since the demise of Queensland Newspapers' own afternoon newspaper The Telegraph in 1988, it arguably has had two competitors since 2007. News Corp itself published mX, a free afternoon newspaper, since 2007, but mX had a relatively low news content, and was discontinued in mid 2015.[13] Fairfax Media has published the online Brisbane Times since 2007.

According to third-party web analytics providers Alexa and SimilarWeb, Courier-Mail's website is the 141st and 273rd most visited in Australia respectively, as of August 2015.[14][15] SimilarWeb rates the site as the 25th most visited news website in Australia, attracting almost 2.6 million visitors per month.[15][16]


  • Jun 1846 – Dec 1847: Arthur Sidney Lyon (first editor)
  • Dec 1847 – c. 1850: James Swan
  • early to mid-1850s: William Wilks
  • 1859: Richard Belford (former editor of Ballarat Star and later editor of the North Australian)
  • 1859–1863: Theophilus Parsons Pugh (also the creator and publisher of Pugh's Almanac)
  • 1864–1866: David Frederick Tudor Jones
  • 1867–c. 1869: William O'Carroll (Queensland journalist)
  • 1869–1873: George Hall ("the Bohemian")
  • 1873–1875: Gresley Lukin (assisted by William O'Carroll)
  • 1875 – Dec 1880: William O'Carroll (as the de facto editor, officially edited by the managing editor Gresley Lukin)
  • Jan 1881– Sep 1883: William O'Carroll (as the de facto editor, although officially edited by the managing editor Charles Hardie Buzacott)
  • Sep 1883 – Oct 1887: Carl Adolph Feilberg
  • Oct 1887 – Dec 1887: Edmund John T Barton (later author of the Jubilee History of Queensland)
  • Jan 1888 – Jun 1891: William Kinnaird Rose
  • Jan 1894 – Nov 1898: Frederick William Ward
  • Dec 1898 – Apr 1903: Charles Brunsdon Fletcher (son-in-law of Sir Arthur Rutledge)[17]
  • April 1903 – 1906: Edmund John T Barton (later author of the Jubilee History of Queensland)
  • 1906 – Jun 1916: John James Knight
  • Jun 1916 – Jun 1919: John MacGregor
  • Jun 1919 – 1932?: R. Sanderson Taylor

  • 1932 – Dec 1933: Firman McKinnon
  • Jan 1934 – Sep 1936: Reginald Tingey Foster (also Editor-in-Chief The Courier-Mail, The Sunday Mail, The Queenslander)
  • late 1936 – 1938: Charles E Sligo (news editor, acting editor)
  • Apr 1938 – late 1941: Jack C Waters (also Editor-in-Chief The Courier-Mail, The Sunday Mail, The Queenslander (to 1939))
  • 1942 – 1968: Theodor Charles Bray (later Sir Theodor) (after 1953 also Editor-in-Chief The Courier-Mail, The Sunday Mail)
  • 1968 – 1969: Alan F Cummins
  • 1969 – 1979: John R Atherton
  • 1979 – 1984: Kevin J Kavanagh
  • Mar 1984 – Mar 1987: David C Smith (Feb 1986 – Mar 1987 also Editor-in-Chief The Courier-Mail, The Sunday Mail)
  • Mar 1987 – Apr 1991: Greg Chamberlin
  • Apr 1991 – Apr 1995: Des Houghton
  • Apr 1995 – Jun 2002: Chris Mitchell (also Editor-in-Chief The Courier-Mail, The Sunday Mail)
  • Jun 2002 – Mar 2010: David Fagan (Mar 2010 – Editor-in-Chief The Courier-Mail, The Sunday Mail)
  • Mar 2010 – June 2013: Michael Crutcher
  • Mar 1987 – Apr 1991: Ron Richards (managing editor)
  • Apr 1991 – Apr 1995: Jack Lunn (Editor-in-Chief The Courier-Mail, The Sunday Mail)


Prominent journalists and columnists include Terry Sweetman and Mike O'Connor. Its current Editor is Chris Dore. Its editorial cartoonist is Sean Leahy. Its National Political Correspondent is Steven Scott. For thirty years, the paper's senior rugby league football journalist was former Australian vice-captain Jack Reardon. Sports Editor at The Courier Mail, Tom Linneth became the youngest editor in Australia 1960 at the age of 29. He worked at the Courier Mail between about 1948 to 1974 and again worked there as the sports editor between about 1982 until he retired in 1996.

Change to tabloid

Front page of The Courier-Mail, 12 December 2005, prior to its conversion to a tabloid format. The headline refers to the 2005 Cronulla riots.

From its inception until March 2006 The Courier-Mail was a broadsheet newspaper. On 14 December 2005 it was announced that the paper would change to a tabloid sometime in early 2006, however the term "tabloid" was not used in favour of the term "compact".[18] This linguistic choice was probably related to widespread public view that many tabloids, including those published by News Limited, were low quality publications (see tabloid for discussion of this size and quality issue). Much emphasis was made that it was merely the paper size that was changing and not the journalistic quality. The last broadsheet edition was published on Saturday 11 March 2006, and the first tabloid edition was published on Monday 13 March 2006. On the same day, the paper's website was revamped and expanded.

The change to a tabloid format brought The Courier-Mail in line with all other News Limited Australian metropolitan daily newspapers. This followed the change to a tabloid format by The Advertiser of Adelaide—another News Corporation newspaper—some years earlier. Despite the claims that there would be no loss of journalistic quality, The Courier-Mail in its "compact" format is not well regarded for its journalism, e.g. the 'Crikey' website described it as "one of the contestants in a close run field for worst paper in Australia".[19] In August 2011, police and the parents of a murder victim criticized the paper for falsely accusing their son of a child sex crime.[20]

On 24 March 2014 Queensland Newspapers, the News Corp Australia subsidiary responsible for publishing the Courier-Mail, was found guilty by a District Court of breaching restrictions on publishing Family Court proceedings on four occasions and fined a total of $120,000. The breachs occurred in 2012 when the Courier-Mail published on its front page the names and photos of a mother and her children involved in a Family Court dispute. District Court Justice Terence Martin said: "It seems to me that the newspaper seized upon what it regarded as a sensational story, which would be attractive to readers, and put the story ahead of its legal obligations".[21]

The Courier-Mail is often used by News Corp Australia to publish news that might be considered controversial in the limited Queensland market, where the Courier-Mail holds a virtual monopoly on printed news, before running the same story in broadsheet media nationally against which it may be criticized by rival publications. It is common in government and political circles to discuss if any decision would pass the "Courier-Mail Test", meaning that if the results of the action were to go public, and all the positive aspects removed, how would any potential negative aspects be scandalised by the Courier Mail and thus what risks need to be mitigated early.


The Courier-Mail has been viewed as controversial on several occasions. One particular instance, on 7 October 2014, the paper published a transphobic headline related to the gruesome murder of Mayang Prasetyo. In doing so, some have said that it has further contributed to the growing Australian distrust of News Corporation papers.[22]


Pre-1955 issues of the newspaper have been digitised as part of the Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program of the National Library of Australia.[23][24]

See also


  1. "News Queensland Editorial staff". couriermail.
  2. Brisbane Courier 26 Oct 1861, p2c (obituary for Lyon); Brisbane Courier 22 Aug 1887, p.6 & 22 June 1926 'The Story of the Courier'
  3. "Brisbane Courier, Tuesday 2 June 1891, page 5". Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  4. "Brisbane Courier, Saturday 20 June 1896, pages 7–8". Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  5. see also Swans' advertisement as "late proprietor of the Courier, in the Moreton Bay Courier 22 December 1859, page 3d
  6. T. B. Stephens (2 July 1868). "Notice". The Brisbane Courier.
  7. Stephens, Thomas Blacket (1819–1877), Australian Dictionary of Biography
  8. Judith Womersley, Mark Richmond (2001). AussieData: From Prehistory to the Present. Wakefield Press. p. 160. ISBN 1-86254-545-6.
  9. H. J. Summers, 'Knight, John James (1863–1927)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, MUP, 1983, pp 622–623
  10. "How Partisan is the Press? Multiple Measures of Media Slant".
  11. 1 2 "CIRCULATION AND READERSHIP" (PDF). Retrieved 2 September 2013.
  12. "The Courier-Mail Demographics". Retrieved 2007-02-09.
  13. "News Corp shuts down mX newspaper". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2015-10-23.
  14. " Site Overview". Alexa. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  15. 1 2 " Analytics". SimilarWeb. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  16. "Top 50 sites in Australia for News And Media". SimilarWeb. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  17. "Courier Mail Brisbane Newspaper History". Brisbane History. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  18. "Blog of Andrew Bartlett". 23 March 2006. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  19. Margaret Simons (26 June 2007). "Crikey Bias-o-meter: The Newspapers". Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  20. Marissa Calligeros (3 August 2011). "Child sex slur disgusting murder victims mum". Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  21. 'Courier-Mail fined for identifying family in custody battle', Brisbane Times, 24 March 2014: Retrieved 24 March 2014
  23. "Newspaper and magazine titles". Trove. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  24. "Newspaper Digitisation Program". Trove. Retrieved 9 October 2014.

Further reading

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