December 9, 2013
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A brief history of the Herald
The Buenos Ayres Herald (the original spelling) is founded by William Cathcart, an ageing Scot who had spent 50 years in "the Argentine." The first issue (see right) 122 years ago today was simple compared to today's product: It constituted of a single sheet with advertising on the front and mostly shipping coverage on the back (with the odd general news and community item thrown in).
Cathcart sells the Herald to D.W. Lowe of the United States, who immediately discards the Cathcart principle of weekly publication in favour of daily news (or at least when there is enough news to fill the paper).
While the Herald still sees its brief as largely shipping and community news, Lowe is drawn into local political commentary by an Argentine-Chilean maritime dispute, which he subsequently helped settle.
The Herald's prestige is already so great that the War Ministry under General Julio Argentino Roca requests the presence of a reporter for General Roca's "desert campaign" which was to crush Argentine Indians as a separate population.
Lowe again acts as mediator in one of the above mentioned revolutionary upheavals over the status of Buenos Aires within the country. This led to the separation of the Federal Capital and Buenos Aires province a couple of years later.
Thomas Bell (from the same Scottish family as the founders of City Bell near La Plata), the Herald's editor-owner for over 30 years, is replaced as managing editor by Hugh Lancelot Lyall. Under Lyall, the Herald evolves from a sporadic daily to a newspaper which has appeared 360 times a year for the last eight decades almost without fail. His trenchant editorials become a defining trademark of the newspaper.
Lyall leaves the Herald for the next 10 years and is replaced by Henry Hamilton Stuart Russell.
The newspaper is purchased by brothers Junius Julius (J.J.) and Claude Ronald Rugeroni whose family originally left Italy for Britain in the nationalist upheavals of the early 19th century and actually came as Englishmen rather than Italians. From the outset they work towards the modernization and expansion of the newspaper.
The Herald's circulation now triples that of its older rival "The Standard" (est. in 1861), asserting itself from the shadow in which it stood until 1925-6
Lyall retires to make way for old China hand Norman Ingrey, a professional journalist with experience as foreign correspondent and English-language newspaper editor in the Far East and Chile. Ingrey deserves much of the credit for the Herald's current profile as a big-city English-language daily with an international flavour and sharp local analysis.
The Juan Domingo Peron administration begins to restrict media freedom in general and the Herald was no exception.
The company is ordered to sell its printing plant to a co-operative under rules aimed at controlling the freedom of the press.
The Herald moves offices from Rivadavia to 25 de Mayo and starts publishing weekend supplements.
The year of the Paris May days, the Prague spring and the Chicago Democratic Convention also sees important changes at the Herald - a controlling block of shares (largely corresponding to J.J. Rugeroni's) is purchased by the Evening Post Publishing Company of Charleston, South Carolina; a Rugeroni cousin (Robert) Basil (Hamilton) Thomson of Ramon writes fame becomes president of the company and Robert Cox becomes editor. While the concept of "an Argentine newspaper in English" goes back to Lyall, Cox was to give it flesh and blood.
The Herald moves into its present address near the Port and prints on its own plant once more in its own building.
The military coup overthrowing Isabel Peron sets the stage for both the best and worst days of the Herald. The Herald's defence of human rights makes journalistic history and gives the newspaper worldwide fame although as an immediate price news editor Andrew Graham-Yooll is forced into a British exile as a "trouble-maker" slated to "disappear." Thomson retires from the company helm.
The Herald receives the IAPA-Mergenthaler Plaque for its fearless stand on human rights.
The Herald receives the Moors-Cabot Prize (the Oscar of journalism) for being a "still, small voice of calm" amid state and guerrilla terrorism.
Threats against his family finally force out Robert Cox, who leaves for the United States to become an editor at The Post and Courier in Charleston where he remains to this day. James Neilson takes over as editor and carries on from where Cox left off on the editorial front. Kenneth Rugeroni becomes president of the company.
The South Atlantic War with Britain causes the distributors' association to block the Herald's access to the newsstands as a "patriotic gesture," thus forcing readers to come to the office to buy the newspaper. Despite this action, readers continue use the Herald as a lens through which they view the world. Threats force Neilson to spend the duration of the war across the water in Uruguay but he returns in July.
After Neilson moves into Spanish-language journalism, a transitional period begins at the Herald with Dan Newland, Ronald Hansen and co-editors Michael Soltys and Nicholas Tozer successively in charge.
Andrew Graham-Yooll returns after 18 years in Britain to become editor-in-chief, relaunches the Herald with a new design and makes other innovations.
Julia Cass replaces Biddle Duke in the new position of Executive Editor created the previous year.
Rugeroni sells his shares in the paper to The Evening Post Publishing Company, which becomes sole owner of the Herald. Graham-Yooll steps down as president to become senior editor and is replaced by Trey Spaulding. Go to Top