For all except nine years since 1888, the McPherson family has been in day-to-day control of the Shepparton News. The paper, which began in February 1877, has been published daily since 1972.
Colin McPherson (1855–1901) had been a Goulburn Valley farmer for six years when his poor health forced him to seek alternative employment. He became one of three partners who launched a farmers’ newspaper in Shepparton in November 1887. He relinquished that interest in 1888—probably when he bought the weekly Shepparton News (as it was then known) on 21 June. In 1894, a reader complimented McPherson on his ‘excellently edited journal’. In the late 1890s, McPherson’s health deteriorated and he had no children old enough to take over management, so he leased the business to three of his printers for nine years from November 1900. He died 11 months later.
From November 1909, Colin’s widow, Jean, with the support of son Malcolm (1890–1915) as printer and publisher, formed a partnership with Edward John Morgan, one of the three former lessees. The other two launched the Goulburn Valley Stock & Property Journal, which the McPhersons bought in 1919. Morgan left the partnership in 1913. Another of Jean’s sons, Stanley Roy (1893–1960), known as Roy, became a partner in 1914. Malcolm McPherson enlisted in the AIF in 1915 and died in the Gallipoli campaign. Another brother, Francis Douglas (1899–1967), joined the News about 1918, became a partner in 1925 and was a machine compositor most of his life. Roy managed the family firm astutely from 1915 to 1960.
In 1933, the McPherson family refused to sell the News to the emerging Mildura-based Elliott newspaper group. Robert Charles Dunlop Elliott bought a controlling interest in the Advertiser and made it a daily from May 1934. The McPhersons pulled out all stops and the Advertiser dropped back from daily to tri-weekly in November 1936. The McPhersons bought the Advertiser in 1953, closed it, and made the News a tri-weekly.
In 1958, the family firm was incorporated as Shepparton Newspapers Pty Ltd. Roy’s only son, Donald Roy McPherson (1925–2005), who had joined the firm in 1946 and trained in all aspects of newspapers, became the managing director (1960–85) and the chairman (1960– 2005). Progressively, he expanded the company, buying the Seymour Telegraph (1961), Nathalia Herald (1962), Kyabram Free Press and Tatura Guardian (1966), Riverine Herald (Echuca) and Rochester Irrigator (1969), Elmore Standard (1970), Midland Times (1985), Benalla City Ensign (1986) and the Pastoral Times (Deniliquin, NSW), the Southern Riverina News (Finley, NSW) and the Cobram Courier (all 1988).
Don’s three sons now run the McPherson Media Group: Graeme Ross (1951– ) as executive chairman and editor-in-chief, Christopher Roy (1954– ) as managing director, and Robert Paul (1949– ) as deputy chairman. Three generations of McPhersons—Roy, Don and Chris—have served as president of the Victorian Country Press Association, and two—Don and Chris—as president of the (variously named) Australian Provincial Press Association. Ross is the only Australian to have presided over the International Newspaper Marketing Association.
REF: R. Kirkpatrick, The Bold Type (2010).