The Little Newspaper that Could

Posted by Daniel on Oct 12, 2010

Chuck Davis writes:

The present troubles of Canwest—parent company for The Vancouver Sun, The Province and many other newspapers—are a reminder of another turbulent time in local newspaper history: the birth of the News-Herald.
A lot of well-known local newspaper people worked for the News-Herald in its 24 years of life: Pierre Berton (its first city editor, at age 21), Barry Broadfoot, Himie Koshevoy and Clancy Loranger, to name a few. Most of the early staff were people who'd worked for the Vancouver Star and lost their jobs when its publisher killed that paper in early 1932 after the printers refused to take a pay cut. (The Great Depression was in full flower at the time.) There were no jobs at the Sun or the Province, so they decided to start their own paper.

Said editor Pat Kelly: “Everybody kept telling us what we were already pretty sure of—that it would require about half-a-million dollars to carry out our plan. In the winter of 1932 they might just as well have made it a billion.” But some of the editorial staff canvassed local business people and astonished themselves by securing signed pledges totalling $5,000. That was $495,000 short of the ideal, but they started anyway.

From its first four-page issue April 24, 1933 the paper struggled. Reporters sat on orange crates and two or three would share one typewriter. The second-hand press quit, and the first issue had to be cranked out manually. The staff used their pocket combs to fold the sheets. They rented a tiny building at 426 Homer Street, and knocked a hole in its wall to get to the typographical shop next door. (That's one of the paper's delivery vehicles pictured above, courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives CVA99-4452.)

The News-Herald had two big competitors, both evening papers: The Province had a circulation at the time of more than 90,000 and over at the Sun circulation was somewhere around 65,000. The newcomer started with a circulation of 10,000 and took 14 years to get up to 40,000+.

On September 20, 1954 the paper shortened its name to the Herald and moved into a new, larger building on Georgia Street. Then newspaper magnate Roy Thomson bought the paper and, in less than three years, citing expenses, shut her down.
Last issue: June 15, 1957.