Press & Journal sinks the Titanic newspaper myth

Titanic: was given extensive coverage by P&J

One of the UK newspaper industry’s most cherished urban myths has finally been laid to rest.

It is often claimed that when the Titanic sunk, the Press & Journal, Aberdeen, in the definitive example of excessive parochialism, carried the headline: “North-east man dies at sea.”

It has been held as the prime example of how the regional newspapers will seek a local angle in even the most dramatic of world events.

In fact, the headline which greeted readers on Tuesday, April 16, 1912, was a four-decker: MidAtlantic Disaster. Titanic Sunk By Iceberg. 1,683 lives lost; 675 saved. Liners race to rescue.

The Press & Journal has finally dispelled the myth in an article coinciding with an exhibition at the National Library of Scotland featuring the history of newspapers in Scotland over the past 400 years.

The Press & Journal did provide extensive coverage of the Titanic sinking. It was several days after the tragedy that the paper was able to tell its readers the human interest stories of the North-east Scotland people on board the Titanic.

Reporter Morag Lindsay claimed: “The most likely explanation… is that it dates back to that point, days after the tragedy, when a news bill outside a shop said, ‘Titanic latest; NE man dead’.”

By Hamish Mackay

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