When your Falkirk Herald was making its own headlines

Front page news returned to The Falkirk Herald on July 13, 1968
Front page news returned to The Falkirk Herald on July 13, 1968

A massive change in the way people received their news took place 50 years ago this week.

Long before the days of internet and social media, newspapers were the relied upon source of finding out what was happening in the world.

There was television and radio but when you wanted to know about your neighbourhood, people would turn to their local weekly newspaper.

The Falkirk Herald, founded in 1845, has always had a strong tradition of being the voice of the people, epitomising the strength, quality and diversity of the country’s free press.

LIVE BLOG: Falkirk Herald celebrates 50 years of front page news

However, until July 13, 1968 if you had wanted to read about the most important events of the day you would have had to turn the pages and look inside.

While younger readers may find it hard to believe – until five decades ago, like many other newspapers, it carried advertising on the front page – columns and columns of bargains, along with the births, marriages and deaths.

But that all changed in July 1968.

When the paper was first launched it did carry stories on the front page but, demand for lucrative advertising space was so high that these quickly replaced news on page one.

For 122 years, through two World Wars and countless major local events, news was relegated to the inside pages.

However, that changed in 1968 when the Johnston 
family who owned the Herald and other weekly newspapers across Central Scotland, decided the time was right for an editorial transformation.

It wasn’t a decision made lightly and one which was geared around finding the right story to mark this bold move as they prepared to change the look of The Falkirk Herald.

Douglas Carr, who had joined the newspaper as a reporter in 1966 and went on to be the editor for seven years in the 1990s, recalls the events.

He said: “Neil Burnett was editor at the time, brought in from another newspaper company to oversee this 
historic event, and Ian Kyle was chief reporter with Ken Waddell as sports editor.

“After decades of adverts on the front page it was a 
momentous decision to change this well established tradition and move Scotland’s biggest selling weekly from the 19th century into the 20th century.

“It was decided the change should take place when there was a big story to splash on the first news-filled front page.”

The story came in the form of the weighty Falkirk and Grangemouth Growth Area Report.

It allowed the new-look Falkirk Herald to carry 
details of the proposed new-look Falkirk.

At the time there was no great announcement heralding the change and the first readers knew was when they picked up their copy from the news stands.

However, the following week there was a photograph of the production centre’s youngest apprentice, David Hannah, hitting the button to begin the presses rolling with the new-look paper.

That week also saw the introduction of a new much more modern masthead to 
reflect the changing face of the paper, although it still maintained its strong standards to cover as much of the news in its communities as possible and give readers a voice – an ethos which 
continues to this day.

Nowadays, The Falkirk Herald provides news around-the-clock. Readers no longer have to wait until a Thursday morning as the news is brought to them on their computer, tablet or 
mobile phone.

Looking back to the time of change in 1968, Douglas added: “From memory, there was no great backlash from readers or advertisers about putting news on the front page and if there was any resistance it was quickly overcome.”