Nationalist Celebrates 125 Years
First Staff of Nationalist
Back Row: 1. ……? 2. John O'Neill 3.
……? 4. ……? 5.
……? 6. T.
Middle Row: 1. John Aylmer
(Journalist) 2. Wlm O'Neill (Clerk) 3. ……? 4. ……?
5. ……? 6. ……?
Front Row: l. P. Reddy 2. ……? 3. Tom Little 4. Wlm Ellis 5. ……?
Nationalist Always In Your Corner
By Margaret O'Rourke
Serving the public. These three words, more than any others, sum up
the philosophy instilled into Nationalist journalists from the time
they took their first steps into newspaper reporting. It was not a
matter of becoming personalities, of straining to impress - no, the
task was to serve the community and to do it well.
That meant, above everything else, accuracy in every detail, coupled
with good English and the production of sound, interesting copy.
In order to fulfill this criteria it was imperative that one be
completely unbiased - politicians of all shades of opinion were to get
an equal crack of the whip (praise or criticism!) the space and
headings given to court cases were to be appropriate to the offence,
nothing, absolutely nothing, could be kept off the paper if it
deserved to be included.
The latter was an absolute rule and was described to junior reporters
practically on their first day in the job, as 'a sacking offence'.
With these guidelines firmly implanted in our minds, we set about the
business of news gathering. The result was evident in the paper. Where
there was a problem we investigated and put hard questions to whoever
was deemed responsible. We published and waited for the expected
back-lash. It came … and that gave us another story.
And so it went until, in a majority of cases, a resolution was found.
People came to the news room, often as a last resort, when they had
tired of writing to officials, complaining to landlords or whatever.
They told their stories and we listened. But then all the facts had to
be checked and all those criticised had to be contacted so that we
could establish whether a real injustice existed or not. When the
veracity of the story was established, the battle of words began.
But this was only part of the service to the public. On a less
militant note, there were all the good causes that blossomed under
continual publicity. All over The Nationalist's circulation area,
there are success stories that are due, in part, to the positive
backing of the newspaper. Need for more housing, for improvements to
schools, better transport, medical services - the list is endless -
for all of them the paper campaigned giving invaluable back-up to
No one who has ever striven for a cause will underestimate the power
of publicity. Without it, many issues would die the death.
This is also true of charitable pursuits. Over the years those who
work to improve the lives of others, depend heavily on having their
activities made known to the community - and made known in a way which
encourages generous support. The Nationalist was always quick to
respond to such endeavors.
Cultural events depend on the same exposure to the public. A concert,
a play, an exhibition, a lecture, any of these, no matter how good in
themselves, would face empty houses without the benefit of good
In the area of sport, The Nationalist continues to play a big part in
popularising all disciplines. Its sports section is eagerly awaited
and his grown in size and importance over the years. Of particular
benefit is the focus on youth activities, under-age matches and, of
course, the all-important Community Games.
From all of which one can gather that reporting for The Nationalist
was a most satisfying way of life. Despite all this service to the
community, it was never felt that we were doing the public any favours
- we were just doing our jobs, as they had been spelled out to us - in
my own case by a very fine editor, Liam D. Bergin.
Despite all this good will, newspapers being what they are, it was
inevitable that - over the years - some organisations and some people
were upset by articles which had to be written. Mostly, though, the
support given across a wide spectrum has been appreciated and people
realise that 'their paper' is easily accessible, has a listening ear
and is prepared to give of its best in the interest of its readers. My
hope is that this fine tradition will carry on into the future.
Liam D. Bergin's role as the paper's editor
All his life Liam D. Bergin strove to integrate high ideals
with expert skills and good business practices.
It was a formula that made him one of the country's most outstanding
In 1944, on James Reddy's death, Liam D. Bergin became Managing Editor
of The Nationalist and, for almost half a century, devoted himself to
producing what was acknowledged as one of the finest newspapers in
In him, Patrick Conlon had a most worthy successor - a man of high
principle, absolute integrity and a passion for the highest standards
For him, journalism and particularly the role of a newspaper editor
was a responsibility which he exercised on behalf of the public. He
never forced his views on his readers, believing that the function of
an editor was to present the facts, leaving it to readers to form
their own judgments on them.
He insisted on attention to detail and was always concerned that his
newspaper's reporting was accurate, fair and objective. He demanded
the highest standards of written English and had no time for sloppy
writing, bad grammar or faulty syntax. He had a good eye for a pithy,
vivid headline and a ruthless sub-editor's pen for over-writing.
He was also a perfectionist in relation to the plant and equipment
needed to produce a top class newspaper and quality job printing. He
travelled to the US, the UK and Germany in order to ensure that The
Nationalist had the best machinery available. He bought for The
Nationalist a printing press which was the first on which the Irish
Press was printed when it started in 1931.
One of his most valuable journalistic gifts was his expertise in
newspaper layout. On several occasions down the years, he remodeled
The Nationalist introducing new formats and installing new type-faces.
On two occasions, The Nationalist won major international awards for
design and layout.
Carloviana 2008. Pages 92 & 93.
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