Two families with a strong newspaper heritage and powerful commitment to their local community have dominated ownership of The Courier for most of its 125-year history.
Current owners, the Marston family, first became involved more than 50 years ago on October 30, 1952. But The Courier‘s original owners, the Dumas family, ran the broadsheet newspaper for 58 years from its foundation on October 1, 1880.
The first edition of The Courier was printed as a broadsheet on October 1, 1880, by Charles Dumas … then aged 30 years. In 1898 he was elected to parliament and served the province until he retired in 1902. Charles edited the paper for more than 50 years until his death in 1935.
His daughter, Una, ran the family business until 1938 when Mr and Mrs T. Monger purchased the business … and from May 12 that year they printed and published The Courier on Thursday afternoons. It was soon after this the paper was altered in size to its current tabloid format. Harry Edmondson and Eric Perry purchased the newspaper from the Mongers in April, 1946, and engaged Harry J. Peake as editor. Mr Peake went on to own the Naracoorte Herald during the mid-50s.
The Marstons entered the business in 1952 when Frank Teare Marston (right) bought Mr Edmondson’s shares. Current general manager Norman Marston (Frank’s eldest son) was the production manager then and managed the Marston interest until his father sold his other newspapers at Burra and Eudunda to move to Mt Barker.
In 1954 the Marston family become sole proprietors after it acquired the Perry shares.
Newspapers in the blood
Newspapers have been in the blood of both the Dumas and Marston families for generations.
Lloyd Dumas, son of Charles, was also heavily involved in newspapers and was eventually knighted for his contribution to the industry, primarily with the Melbourne Argus and then for many years with the Adelaide Advertiser.
The Marston family, however, has one of the longest histories in family newspaper ownership in Australia.
Its substantial involvement and continuing commitment to newspapers spans more than a century. In fact its family association with newspapers dates well back into the 19th century.
Frank Teare Marston is often referred to as the ‘father’ of modern-day Marstons in newspapers in South Australia with 55 years of editing and ownership of country newspapers and journals in this State until his death in 1980. His father, Ernest F. Marston, owned the Numurkah Leader in Victoria in the early 1900s and later acquired the Burra Record in SA before completing his life span in 1948 as a retired editor-owner. Frank already owned the Eudunda Courier in SA’s mid north before he married Floris Ewins in 1927. Their marriage was a union of two newspaper families. Floris’ father, Kinso Ewins, was a newspaper manager-editor and later worked as a compositor at the Adelaide Advertiser in charge of classified adverts. He often worked closely with Sir Lloyd Dumas.
The Courier has been a family affair for more than 50 years and now spans four generations.
Frank’s sons Norman and Peter (right) have made a formidable contribution to The Courier, the newspaper industry and the community they served. They’ve seen and developed the paper’s transition from the days of hot metal and letterpress machines to computers and offset printing. Norman and Peter managed the paper together from 1966 and were both passionate about newspapers. Norman continued as production manager and Peter succeeded his father as editor. Until his untimely death in 1997, Peter had been involved in the industry at both State and National levels. He became National president of Country Press Australia and was also awarded life membership of the South Australian association.
The third generation family members at The Courier are Norman’s sons Kym and Bruce. Kym edited the paper during the 1980s and 1990s. His passion for the industry saw him also heavily involved in the Country Press Association and as State president. Bruce succeeded his father as production manager and is now in senior management. The fourth generation at The Courier is Norman’s grandson Steven, who is a graphic reproducer, printer and now production manager.
The paper has changed immensely over the years in its size, quality and circulation. In 1953 the paper was eight to 12 pages in size with the circulation of around 1900 copies. At that time it was published at 1pm on Wednesdays. By 1980 the paper numbers had risen to an average of 48 pages an issue and around 10,000 copies were printed. In 2005 the paper is averaging more than 76 pages a week with around 15,000 copies printed. As the region grows and its readers and clientele broaden their interests, needs and demands, The Courier will continue to meet these challenges and grow in unison. The Courier has always been a leader in its field and its unheralded number of awards – both in the South Australian and National competitions – is recognition of its quality product (see our wall of fame list of achievements).
The Courier is recognised as a benchmark of country newspapers in South Australia and recognised as among the very best in Australia.