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Retired editor demands industry action after daily’s archives ‘dumped in skip’

A retired editor has demanded greater industry action on archiving after revealing his old newspaper’s records dating back almost 170 years were rescued from a skip.

Mike Unger spoke out after a warning from a group of historians that an “informational vacuum” is being created by the loss of regional press archives in the digital age.

HTFP’s coverage of the issue prompted Mike, who edited the Liverpool Daily Post, Liverpool Echo and Manchester Evening News during his career, to reveal his part in rescuing Daily Post archives dating back to the paper’s first edition in 1855.

He came into possession of the complete set of bound volumes of the archives, which feature cuttings spanning more than a century, via an antique dealer in Birkenhead and has donated them to Liverpool Central Library.

Mike Unger

The dealer told Mike, pictured, that a man had rescued them from a skip outside the Echo’s former Old Hall Street office when the paper moved to St Paul’s Square in 2018.

Speaking to HTFP, Mike said: “I just think it’s appalling for so many reasons given the importance of these archives to Liverpool, historical students and equally the importance to journalists.

“These are important documents. For example, looking at what was being sold in 1855 and silly little things like that paints a picture of where we are going and what we’ve come from.”

“The newspapers themselves should find more of a way to maintain their records and historic memories for use by journalists, though the problem with that is so many journalists now work from home.

“There’s slow progress towards online archiving but journalists are under huge pressure to do quick stories instantly.”

Mike was the editor of the Liverpool Daily Post between 1979 and 1982, before moving to the Post’s sister paper the Echo from 1982 to 1983. He then spent the next 14 years as editor of the Manchester Evening News.

Mike’s comments come after experts in the study of media claimed in an article for History Today that their colleagues are being “robbed” by the decline of printed local papers and called for a “strategic approach” to preserving journalists’ stories for future generations.

While not specifically confirming or denying Mike’s claims, Daily Post publisher Reach plc has defended its record on archiving newspaper content.

Fergus McKenna, content sales director who manages the company’s archives, said: “Here at Reach we are incredibly proud of our rich heritage and have invested significant resources into the preservation and conservation of our archives, both written word and photographic.

“In 2013 we undertook the task of creating a single central archive, housed at our then Nationals’ facility in Watford. A central archive allowed us to take a standardised approach to the preservation and importantly digitisation of these archives from across the entire group.

“As well as preserving physical collections as is, the Central Archive team is tasked with digitising these collections for preservation and further use by our internal and external customers.

“As a result of this, over 1.5million archival photographs have been digitised and are available to our editorial teams and to our customers via Mirrorpix.

“Over 25 million (and counting) printed newspaper pages have been digitised and are publicly available for research at the British Newspaper Archive as well as on family history resources such as Findmypast and

“Reach has been able to identify over 900 out of print news titles dating back to 1711 and the reign of Queen Anne. These titles were predecessors of the newspapers in our present-day portfolio and thanks to digitisation the information they contain is becoming an increasingly easily accessible historical record for the public and professional researchers alike.”