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October 11, 2018updated 30 Sep 2022 6:55am

Manchester Evening News marks 150th anniversary of publishing with ‘honest aim to serve the public interest’

By James Walker

The Manchester Evening News has marked its 150th anniversary in print by looking back on some of the most memorable stories that have appeared in its pages, both the highs and the lows.

Since it was founded by future MP Mitchell Henry in October 1868, the MEN has covered two world wars, the Munich air disaster that killed eight of the “Busby Babes” Manchester United team, and most recently the Manchester Arena bombing that took the lives of 22 people last year.

But it has also covered the 2002 Commonwealth Games and Manchester United’s “treble” win in 1999, coming top of the Premier League title, Champions League and claiming the FA Cup.

Marking its 150th anniversary yesterday, the MEN thanked its readers in an article penned by news editor Chris Osuh and chief reporter Neal Keeling.

It read: “‘In putting ourselves into print, we have no apology to offer, but the assurance of an honest aim to serve the public interest.’ Those words were spoken by Mitchell Henry, the founding editor of the Manchester Evening News at its launch on October 10th 1868.

“But we would not be able to fulfil that pledge without the public. Thanks to your bravery, courage, and civility in talking to us, sometimes at the most trying times of your lives, we can report accurately and expose and scrutinise.”

Looking back on its history, the MEN noted that its first edition was just four pages long and cost a halfpenny.

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Today the newspaper costs 80p and has 50-odd pages on a typical day. It also offers free news on its website and mobile app, reaching 1m people a day in combination with the print edition.

This sizeable circulation for a regional title has helped MEN staffers to move on from the paper’s first small office on Brown Street to flashy glass offices in Oldham.

The MEN itself has changed hands several times since its 19th century beginnings. Quickly sold by Henry, the paper was snapped up by Peter Allen and his brother-in-law John Edward Taylor, son of the Guardian’s founder of the same name.

In 1905 the MEN went independent, and would stay so until it came under joint-ownership with the Guardian 19 years later. It was sold off again in 2010, this time to regional publisher Trinity Mirror (now Reach).

In its anniversary article, the MEN claimed: “It was our circulation that kept the Guardian in business, and funded its move to London, before we parted ways in 2010.”

The paper also listed off its most famous alumni, including former Sunday Times editor Sir Harold Evans and the famed author and essayist George Orwell. 

Orwell was a staffer at the paper for three years, but took issue with his weekly wages.

Sir Harold joined in 1952 – five years after Orwell wrote his last piece for the MEN – and campaigned for the pedestrianisation of St Ann’s Square.

In May this year, the MEN swept the Regional Press Awards, taking home seven prizes.

It also picked up the Local Heroes prize at last year’s British Journalism Awards, hosted by Press Gazette.

Current MEN reporters took to social media to celebrate the paper’s 150th anniversary:

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

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