“The subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measures.”
(Editorial motto of the Globe and Mail)
The Globe and Mail is one of Canada’s two national newspapers. It was the country’s only truly national newspaper and it continues to succeed financially and in terms of its growing readership, despite the “newspaper wars” of the late 1990s and the creation of the National Post in 1998.
The paper is frequently referred to as “the Globe” yet it should be noted that its historical forerunners included a paper that was simply named The Globe. For the purpose of this writeup, the Globe and Mail will only be referred to by its full name.
The Globe and Mail’s roots can be traced back to the Globe, a politically motivated newspaper founded by George Brown (a Father of Confederation). Brown had become involved in the newspaper industry in the 1830s when his father, with whom he had come to North America from Scotland, ran a paper for British immigrants in New York. Brown happened to be in Toronto, trying to attract new subscribers in Upper Canada, when an idea struck: the Toronto newspaper market appeared to be better suited to his family’s purposes than that of New York. He convinced his father to sell their newspaper and relocate.
The Browns founded another newspaper once in Toronto; it featured (largely due to the influence of George’s father) content that was primarily of interest to Presbyterian clergy. Brown was personally more interested in politics than religion, and he founded a politically driven paper in 1844. He named it The Globe and, firmly believing that his paper’s task was to inform the public so citizens could think freely, chose a quote from the letters of Junius as its official motto.
The Globe began as a weekly but its popularity grew at such a steady rate that it had become a daily newspaper nine years after its creation (1853). Brown used the paper to promote his political views, as he was an active member of the Reform Party (a forerunner to what would become the Liberal Party of Canada). This became such a concern for conservative politicians that John A. Macdonald, a Tory who would later become Canada’s first prime minister, pushed his supporters to create The Mail in 1872.
Brown would be heavily involved in The Globe’s production until his death in 1880 (he was shot by a former employee and died from the related infection shortly thereafter). A syndicate bought out the paper and the family of Senator Robert Jaffrie would obtain control of it in 1888. Its popularity became more widespread during this period and its readership base, though largest in Toronto, extended to other parts of the country. This newfound popularity and geographical readership range earned it the nickname “Canada’s national newspaper,” a moniker the Globe and Mail continues to use to this day.
George McCullogh, a businessman, bought the Globe in 1936. He also acquired The Mail (which became the Mail and Empire after another merger – The Empire had also been a conservative-leaning publication) and amalgamated the Globe and the Mail and Empire that same year. He called the "new" publication the Globe and Mail.
Though ownership and editorial responsibility has changed hands many times since the official amalgamation created the Globe and Mail in 1936, various aspects of the paper have remained remarkably similar, if not more or less exactly the same. Brown’s original motto choice, “the subject who is truly loyal to the Chief Magistrate will neither advise nor submit to arbitrary measure,” still appears on the paper’s editorial page. The paper’s masthead retains the “Canada’s national newspaper” label and cites its year of creation as 1844; the year Brown founded the Globe.
The Globe and Mail is currently owned by Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc., the same company that owns CTV and Bell Canada. This is an example of convergence, as the news headlines featured on Bell’s ISP and on CTV’s all-news station are provided by the Globe and Mail. Its current editor-in-chief is Edward Greenspon, who has been criticized openly for what many see as a conservative bias in the paper.
The paper’s political stance is difficult to discern, as it is the product of two papers with drastically different political ideals. Further to that, one of the two papers was actually partially created to counter the other. It’s fairly safe to say that the Globe and Mail offers a reasonably centrist point of view; the argument that it is a conservative paper more or less fell by the wayside after the advent of the National Post in the late 1990s. Conrad Black created the Post after expressing dissatisfaction with the state of the Canadian media. It was his opinion that most media outlets, including the Globe and Mail, were too left leaning and the Post was intended to provide alternate viewpoints.
The hype surrounding the Post’s creation led to what was dubbed the “newspaper wars;” in some areas, such as Toronto, the Post’s arrival meant that as many as four or five daily newspapers were competing for the same audience. The Globe and Mail has always been more consistently successful than the Post in terms of financial success and readership. This has been partially credited with the “modernization” of the Globe and Mail; the paper refused to print colour pictures until 1998. One of my professors (who used to work for the paper) explained that, until it was forced to start thinking about such things, the Globe and Mail’s editorial staff took pride in the fact that it was one of the few remaining “gray ladies” of the Canadian newspaper industry. The addition of colour accompanied new graphic layouts and fonts.
The paper is fairly business oriented and includes Report on Business magazine once a month. Its business coverage has been hailed as being among the best in the world, while its national political coverage has also been lauded. The Globe and Mail produces a “national edition” of which the content is common to the entire country. Each major area also has its own edition of the paper with slightly more local news and analyses as to how national issues will affect local areas. It has been suggested that the Globe and Mail is perhaps too Toronto-focused, since its main offices are located there. The concept that the Globe and Mail only appeals to a certain demographic has also been suggested (and lampooned); the best way to describe this is to say that the Eyeopener, Ryerson University’s independent student newspaper, renamed it the “Old and Male” in its 2004 parody issue.
The Globe and Mail launched a breaking news website in 2000. Until this point, its website (www.theglobeandmail.com) had been “static,” that is, its content was updated once a day (manually) when its editors needed to upload that day’s paper. The website currently features all of the content in the paper, yet certain features (such as columns) require a paid subscription. The editorial staff has indicated that its news content, as well as its breaking news coverage, will remain free.
Globeandmail.com – History of the Globe and Mail (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/services/site/history.html) 9 May 2005
The Globe and Mail – Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Globe_and_mail) 9 May 2005