Bent’s News

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Bent's News 9 Jan 1836 (2)

Bent’s News, and Tasmanian Three-penny Register. Printed and published by Andrew Bent, at the Printing Office, No. sixty-seven Elizabeth-street, Hobart Town Van Diemen’s Land.

v. 1, no. 1 (9 Jan. 1836)-v. 2, no. 92 (7 Oct. 1837)

Weekly (Saturday)

Reuses the image of the newsboy on horseback from the People’s Horn Boy.

Ferguson 2093a.

View digital version on Trove.

Bent was editor, printer and publisher of this little paper, and did much of the composing and printing work himself, assisted by his sons as they grew older. It was ostensibly a cheap paper published for the benefit of the working class and relied heavily on making extracts from the other newspapers. It initially sold well, with a circulation rivaling that of the respectable Courier. For the first six months it was conducted moderately and Bent wisely abstained from political remarks. However, when Arthur’s recall was announced he joined enthusiastically with the main opposition papers (conducted by Melville and Gilbert Robertson) in a frenzy of jubilation and anti-Arthur commentary, although he obviously caused the authorities less concern than the other two.

In 1837 Jorgen Jorgenson again became associated with Bent’s paper, as he conducted what he described as protracted ‘terrible warfare’ with Gilbert Robertson. He kept both Chief Police Magistrate Forster (Arthur’s nephew by marriage) and Arthur himself informed of developments. The debate degenerated into a vicious exchange of personal abuse and Bent was dragged into the quarrel as Robertson attacked him very personally and threatened to prosecute for libel.

On 14 Oct. 1837 Bent raised the price to sixpence and the word ‘threepenny’ was dropped from the title.

Bent's News (3)

Bent’s News, and Tasmanian Register. Printed and published by Andrew Bent, at the Printing Office, No. sixty-seven Elizabeth-street, Hobart Town Van Diemen’s Land.

v. 2, no. 93 (14 Oct. 1837)- v. 3, no. 156 (28 Dec. 1838)

Weekly (Saturday)

Included with its predecessor as Ferguson 2093a.

Has supplement, The Horn Boy (3 Jan. 1838-Apr. 1838)

View digital version on Trove.

Bent did not register this minor change of title with the Colonial Secretary, and this was to cause trouble when he was prosecuted for libels the following year. Nor did he register the free weekly advertising supplement, the Horn Boy, which commenced at the beginning of 1838 at which time he also redesigned the masthead for Bent’s News. The News became a single sheet only until resuming with four pages on 24 March.

Bent's News 6 Jan 1838

Early in 1838 a faction headed by the pro-Arthur Roderic O’Connor and his associates James Hackett and T. W. Rowlands used Bent’s News to attack former Attorney General Alfred Stephen, and his journalistic supporters R. L. Murray and Gilbert Robertson, seemingly with the knowledge and approbation, if not connivance, of Forster. They had previously written their attacks in Melville’s Colonial Times but that had been sold and the new management refused insertion to such scurrilous writers. It is hard to understand why Bent countenanced them, unless he was desperate for money, but under their influence the standard of the newspaper rapidly deteriorated as week after week the most brutal, coarse, and in Robertson’s case racist, slander and personal vilification appeared. ‘The circulation, previously respectable, fell down to almost nil, and the paper was irretrievably ruined.’ (Mercury 18 Jan. 1859) Bent was found guilty of libels on Murray, Alfred Stephen, and Alfred’s brother George. He decided to move to Sydney and continue the paper there.

Bent's News Sydney

Bent’s News, and New South Wales Advertiser. Edited, printed and published by Andrew Bent, the Proprietor, No. 67 Pitt-street, Sydney, New South Wales.

v. 4, no. 157 (13 Apr. 1839) – v. 4, no. 172 (27 July 1839)

Weekly (Saturday). Continues the numbering of its Hobart predecessor.

Ferguson 2712.  Copies: NSL (on microfilm).

View digital version on Trove.

Prospectus printed in BN in Hobart 7 Dec. 1838 and following issues and in Sydney Gazette 1 Jan 1839. Also issued as a separately printed broadside.

Bent edited the paper himself, and it showed. As in Hobart he relied heavily on extracts from the other papers. Although claiming a respectable and increasing circulation and good advertising support he did not have enough capital reserves to carry on. On 27 July he announced that he had been induced to dispose of the copyright to a group who would conduct a joint stock company journal, the Australasian Chronicle. He would continue to manage the typographical department.

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