Four generations of the Taylor family have been full or part-owners, and have managed and/or edited, the Murray Pioneer in Renmark, South Australia. The newspaper, which began on 9 April 1892 as the Renmark Pioneer, had had three owners before Harry Samuel Taylor (1873–1932) bought it on 1 September 1905. Taylor became secretary of the Single Tax League of South Australia at the age of 18, and edited its weekly journal.
At 20, he joined Queensland labour journalist William Lane on an ill-fated venture to South America to found a cooperative commonwealth, a ‘New Australia’, in Paraguay. Taylor returned to Australia in 1896 and worked on a sheep property near Wentworth, New South Wales, and then an irrigation block near Mildura, Victoria. He studied orcharding and vine-growing practices.
Taylor wrote what became a highly regarded horticultural column for the Mildura Cultivator from 1902 to 1905. At the Pioneer, his horticultural expertise and interest in foreign affairs were real assets. In the 1920s, the principal librarian of the Public Library of New South Wales called the Pioneer the ‘best country paper in Australia’. In his first four years at the Pioneer, Taylor increased circulation six-fold.
On 11 July 1913, he renamed the paper the Murray Pioneer & Australian River Record. He had to relinquish sole proprietorship in June 1921 and The Murray Pioneer Pty Ltd was formed. He remained as editor, general manager and governing director. Taylor’s only son, William Gilmore Taylor (1904–88), known as Gilmore, became chairman and managing director from 1932–87. Gilmore’s elder son, Darnley Harry Gilmore Taylor (1936–2001), was editor from 1965 to 1978, and managing director from 1987 to 2001. Younger son Paul Harry Gilmore Taylor (1944– ) was managing director from 2001 to 2009. Darnley’s son, Benjamin Gilmore Darnley Taylor (1967– ), an employee since 1993, became managing director in 2010. The Taylor women, including Gilmore’s wife Latitia and Paul’s wife Judith, also worked on the paper.
The family has contributed much to South Australia’s Country Press Association: Harry was a committee member for several years, and the post of president has been held by Gilmore (1950–52), Darnley (1975–77), Paul (1994–96) and Ben (2009–11).
The family company has expanded across South Australia since the 1960s, acquiring the River News (Waikerie, 1962), Loxton News (Loxton, 1964), Bunyip (Barossa and Gawler, 2003), Border Times (Pinnaroo, 2006) and Mid North Broadcaster (Burra, Eudunda, Jamestown and district, 2006). The Pioneer, a bi-weekly since 1982, and the five weeklies are printed on the company’s press, which has been web offset since 1978. The River News reverted to its traditional circulation area—Waikerie—after a foray into Mannum from 1997. The result was competition with Rural Press Limited’s Murray Valley Standard in Murray Bridge. The River News’ withdrawal prompted a 2001 Australian Competition and Consumer Commission prosecution in the Federal Court, in which both companies were fined.
REFs: R. Kirkpatrick, ‘Taylors Reap Harvest of Editor’s Hard Work at Pioneer’, PANPA Bulletin (May 2002) and interview with Paul Taylor, 31 January 2003.