It’s got five words and 36 characters, and it takes up two-and-a-bit lines in the masthead.
That makes the Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard the longest newspaper title in Britain.
The look and feel of this weekly paper is one of the most rudimentary I’ve ever seen: its layout is what can only be described as ‘block-style’, and 16 of its 28 pages are printed in black and white.
On Friday 4 September, the paper crammed in more than a dozen reports and 60 pictures from the town’s internationally renowned Cowal Highland Gathering, described by organisers as the “biggest, most spectacular” Highland games in the world.
The three-day event saw the Standard recording battles for the best caber tossers, Highland dancers, pipers and drummers, as well as comprehensive results for other strange-but-true competitions such as ‘heavy athletics’ and Scottish ‘backhold wrestling’.
Although the town’s big event of the year filled at least 12 pages, the Standard still carried more than 100 other news, features and sports reports elsewhere. Detailed news stories included:
- the latest on the collapse of a Dunoon building firm, which saw the loss of 60 local jobs;
- a report on the failed community buy-out of a local castle, criticised as an “unedifying adversarial and confrontational denouement” by one councillor;
- an analysis of why a fatal road accident closed a main road for six hours, described as “a perfect conspiracy” by a police chief; and
- detailed court reports on how two local drink-drivers were banned from the roads.
There were other reports on new road resurfacing plans, broadband improvements, land ownership campaign meetings and ‘constructive truancy’ – all subjects that you can imagine had tongues wagging in a town of fewer than 8,500 people.
The Standard is published by E & R Inglis Ltd, a Dunoon design and print company still owned by descendants of William Inglis Senior, who launched the newspaper back in 1871.
In the 144 years since then, the paper’s only had 11 editors, the current incumbent being Gordon Neish, who runs operations with three other journalists and a part-time photographer.
When last audited by ABC in 2002, the paper was selling 6,044 copies a week at 50p a time. The cover price is now 80p, with an average sale of around 4,300 according to staff – still pretty decent in a town of less than 8,500 people.
If accurate, the latest sales figure suggests an average sales drop of between 2pc and 3pc a year for the last decade or so, which would not compare badly to the industry average.
This is probably down to a mixture of Dunoon’s far-flung location, its dodgy internet connections and – when you can go online – the paper’s pretty clunky, hard-to-use and unattractive website, www.dunoon-observer.com (now there’s an idea!).
Pedant’s footnote: The Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard was once arguably challenged as the Britain’s longest newspaper title by the now-defunct Wellingborough and Rushden Herald and Post.
However, because the Herald & Post used the ampersand on its actual masthead, it was reduced to 35 characters, making the Dunoon title’s 36 characters the longest as far as proud Scots were concerned.
And today it still holds that tongue-twisting title, with the Oswestry and Border Counties Advertizer coming a close second with 35 characters.