Table of Contents
The Manchester Evening News (sometimes abbreviated to the MEN) is a regional daily newspaper covering Greater Manchester in North West England. Founded in 1868, the paper is published Monday–Saturday; a Sunday edition, the MEN on Sunday, was launched in February 2019. The newspaper is owned by Reach plc (formerly Trinity Mirror), one of Britain’s largest newspaper publishing groups.
Since adopting a ‘digital-first’ strategy in 2014, the publication has experienced huge online growth, while its average print daily circulation for the first half of 2018 was 36,715. In the 2018 British Regional Press Awards, it was named Newspaper of the Year and Website of the Year.
Formation and The Guardian ownership
The Manchester Evening News was first published on 10 October 1868 by Mitchell Henry as part of his Parliamentary election campaign, with its first issue four pages long and cost a halfpenny. The newspaper was run from a small office on Brown Street, with approximately a dozen staff. Upon the newspaper’s launch, Henry said: “In putting ourselves into print, we have no apology to offer, but the assurance of an honest aim to serve the public interest.” Henry’s quote is displayed on the entrance wall to the newspaper’s modern offices.
With his Parliamentary bid unsuccessful, Henry lost interest in the business, selling the publication to John Edward Taylor Jr., the son of newspaper proprietor John Edward Taylor, founder of the Manchester Guardian (now The Guardian). The newspaper became the evening counterpart and sister title to The Manchester Guardian and the two titles began sharing an office, located on Cross Street, from 1879. Taylor brought his brother-in-law Peter Allen in as a partner in the Manchester Evening News and, after Taylor’s death in 1907, the Guardian was sold to its editor C. P. Scott while the Evening News passed into the hands of the Allen family. In 1924, C. P. Scott’s son John Russell Scott reunited the papers, buying out the Manchester Evening News and forming The Manchester Guardian and Evening News Ltd, which in turn later became the Guardian Media Group (GMG).
In 1936, John Russell Scott formed the Scott Trust in order to protect the company from death duties, following the deaths of his father and younger brother Ted in close succession. The contents of the original deeds were not disclosed by the company, but a copy obtained by The Independent revealed the terms compelled trustees to “use their best endeavours to procure that the Manchester Guardian and Manchester Evening News shall be carried on as nearly as may be upon the same principles as they have heretofore.”
During the editorship of William Haley (who later became the Director-General of the BBC and subsequently the editor of The Times) in the 1930s, the newspaper’s circulation grew to over 200,000. By 1939 the publication was the largest provincial evening newspaper in the country. The newspaper was a cash cow for its parent company and kept its stablemate The Manchester Guardian afloat. The financial success of the Manchester Evening News was reflected in Haley’s salary, which was even greater than John Scott’s, with Scott himself acknowledging, “after all, you make the money we spend.”
In 1961, The Manchester Guardian and Evening News Ltd bought out the Manchester Evening News‘s ailing rival, the Manchester Evening Chronicle, and two years later, merged the papers. Following this, the Manchester Evening News‘s circulation increased to over 480,000.
Trinity Mirror acquisition
In December 2009, GMG confirmed it had held “exploratory talks” about selling the Manchester Evening News, following a report by The Daily Telegraph which named Trinity Mirror as a potential buyer and claimed the “disposal would amount to a fire sale” due to the current value of the business. The title estimated the Manchester Evening News alone to be worth about £200m prior to the collapse in newspaper advertising.
In February 2010, the Manchester Evening News was sold along with GMG’s 31 other regional titles to Trinity Mirror, severing the historic link between The Guardian and the Manchester Evening News. The sale was valued at £44.8m – £7.4m in cash and the remainder from GMG extricating itself from a £37.4m decade-long contract with Trinity Mirror to print its regional titles. The sale of GMG’s regional arm was negotiated to offset company losses, with The Guardian and its Sunday title Observer accruing losses of £100,000 a day. The sale was described by stockbrokers Numis as “the deal of the decade” for Sly Bailey, Trinity Mirror’s chief executive, while The Guardian‘s Steve Busfield said the sale was indicative of the declining business value of regional media, comparing the sale to that of Johnston Press’s acquisition of 53 regional titles including The Yorkshire Post eight years earlier, for £560m.
In the year prior to the newspaper’s sale, GMG had reduced the number of journalists at the newspaper to 50. Judy Gordon, the National Union of Journalists mother of the chapel, said: “The Guardian has not got any money of its own. It has only got what other people give it. We’ve made all those changes to stem the fact that our profits are dropping. Then they ask: ‘How much can you give us now? Nothing? OK, Bye.'”
The Manchester Evening News headquarters were relocated from Scott Place in the Spinningfields area of Manchester city centre to an existing Trinity Mirror plant in Chadderton, where other Trinity Mirror titles in North West England are printed. In 2013, the title surpassed 10 million monthly online readers for the first time, recording 10,613,119 visitors.
Despite its “evening” title, the newspaper began publication of a morning edition in November 2004, a controversial move which brought union members to the brink of strike action over new work rotas.
“Football Green” and “Football Pink”
For years the paper was famous for its “Football Green” edition. After the MEN merged with the rival Manchester Evening Chronicle in the 1960s, its more popular “Sporting Pink” was adopted as the “Football Pink”. The “Football Pink” was first issued in 1904 as part of the Manchester Evening Chronicle, which was owned by Manchester City chairman Sir Edward Hulton, the 1st Baronet.
The “Green” and “Pink” names came from being printed in paper of those colours. In the 1970s the Saturday sports paper began using white newsprint, which had become by then the industry standard. The papers were printed in mobile presses inside newspaper vans usually parked near the stadiums. Actually, the Green was a Summer version, with most of the content about cricket with Lancashire’s games featuring throughout the season
In March 2005 the paper launched a cut-down afternoon version of the paper titled MEN Lite, which was distributed free to commuters within Manchester’s city centre.
On 2 May 2006, the Evening News dropped the “Lite” edition in favour of a “part-free, part-paid” distribution model for the main paper. Copies were free in Manchester city centre, while readers outside that area continued to pay for the paper.
In December 2006, the paper also began free distribution at Manchester Airport and hospitals throughout Greater Manchester.
In December 2009, the newspaper announced that as of January 2010 the paper would no longer be handed out free Monday to Wednesday in the city centre and other selected locations. Instead, they would be handed out free as previously on Thursdays and Fridays but would regain their paid-for status in these locations at all other times.
Manchester Weekly News
A free weekly version of the Manchester Evening News, the Manchester Weekly News, was launched 2 April 2015. The paper is delivered to over 265,000 homes in Greater Manchester.
Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards
The Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards recognised the scope and excellence of live theatre in Greater Manchester. They were administered by The Manchester Evening News and presented at an annual ceremony in Manchester, England. The awards were for regional and nationally touring productions and were created in 1981 by Alan Hulme, the MEN theatre critic, who wrote for the paper from 1970 to 2000.
History and significance
The awards were established in 1981, by Alan Hulme, the paper’s theatre critic from 1970 – 2000, with the first ceremony held in the conference room of the MEN in their then Deansgate offices, with Mike Harding as the first MC. They were quickly recognised as the most important theatrical prize-giving outside London and the annual ceremony was regarded as the regional theatre event of the year. In summer 2011, the Manchester Evening News ended its association with the awards blaming the “challenging economic climate”.A group of former panel members, led by Alan Hulme and his successor Kevin Bourke, announced in October 2011 that they were to continue the awards as an independent body under the name Manchester Theatre Awards.