The best of Times, and the worst of Times

NEWS AND OLDS: Southland Times journalist Michael Fallow, approaching deadline on a history of the newspaper on the brink of its 150th anniversary.
NEWS AND OLDS: Southland Times journalist Michael Fallow, approaching deadline on a history of the newspaper on the brink of its 150th anniversary.

An upcoming history of The Southland Times is shaping up as a sometimes disconcerting sort of celebration, its writer says.

The Times marks its 150th anniversary in November and the final chapters of the book are now being completed.

Michael Fallow, a Times journalist for three decades, said it would be less an introspective company history than a scamper through 15 decades to show how the Times connected with its readers and wrote about their lives.

"There's a lot to be proud of, because together we did get a lot right," he said.

"But each generation also had its follies and there's nothing like a newspaper for throwing up examples of attitudes that, looking back, we're liable to find discomforting. Or funny. Often both."

The book would throw a few shafts of light into the Times internal history, "because the yarns stack up".

The Gilmour family had guided the paper's fortunes wisely for most of its history, but even then life was hardly placid. The paper tended to attract huge personalities whose deeds were later recounted, sometimes treacherously, by professional storytellers.

"For the most part the book's outward-looking. It's about the connection between the company and the community. About what we got up to together, for better or worse," Fallow said.

The Southland Times