- Alternative Names
- British Solomon Islands News Sheet
The European and Chinese settlers had newspapers sent to them and some Solomon Islanders on plantations in Queensland and Fiji were aware that the tabloid press existed. The first periodicals and newspapers specifically related to the Solomon Islands were produced by the various Christian missions. The Anglican Diocese of Melanesia was the most prolific; beginning with the Southern Cross Log, a substantial periodical produced from Auckland and Sydney between May 1895 and April 1972, and another version was produced in London that continued until the winter of 1973. Both versions shared copy but were edited independently; the Auckland/Sydney version included more news from the Pacific and the London version had more news of English clergy. The Anglicans also published O Sala Ususu (in the Mota language, 1922?-1957), the Melanesian Messenger: The Child of O Sala Ususu (1858-1973), the Melanesian Mission Broadsheet (1962-1972), and the Melanesian Newsletter (1977 to present).
Weekly newspapers and periodicals from overseas found a growing circulation in the Solomons during the 1950s and 1960s. The government Information Service first produced the British Solomon Islands Protectorate
News Sheet (cited in this work as NS) in 1955, with bimonthly issues in 1955 and 1956. The News Sheet upgraded to a monthly publication in 1957 and to fortnightly in 1962. The number of copies produced increased rapidly, from 350 copies in 1966 to 1,000 in 1967. (NS 21 Feb. 1967) The News Sheet dealt with Protectorate news and was distributed to missions and private citizens within the Protectorate and to news services overseas. With no local press, the News Sheet was intended to express government aims and policies and provide general public relations stories, as well as some overseas news for Solomon Islanders. It had centre spreads on a wide variety of subjects, such as therapy for polio victims, or the tourism potential of the Solomon Islands. The text, produced by mimeograph machine, was kept as simple as possible and the News Sheet was illustrated with photographs.
Once Solomon Island students began studying overseas, they also received the News Sheet to keep them in touch with affairs at home. (AR 1957-1958, 52) By 1969, it had a circulation of 3,500 copies, eight hundred of them sent to readers overseas. The remaining copies were circulated locally to all schools, Local Government Councils, Headmen, health clinics, co-operative societies, government departments and citizens who requested copies. In 1970, the circulation reached four thousand and it was decided to charge for copies sent overseas, except those sent to students. Readers in the Protectorate but outside Honiara were automatically sent free subscriptions. In 1974, circulation was just over four thousand copies, four hundred of which were sent overseas, mainly through subscriptions, 1,930 went to schools, and around four hundred were sold through distribution points throughout the Solomon Islands. In 1972, the News Sheet and the Information Service were included in the Department of Information, Broadcasting, Museum and Library Services. Advertising in the News Sheet began in 1974.
In 1973, the Diocese of Melanesia Press (now the Provincial Press) was set up as a commercial printery with an offset press and the ability to print to tabloid newspaper size. In 1975, the government's News Sheet was turned into a weekly newspaper called the Solomons News Drum, a successful trail edition having been published in October 1974. In mid-1982, the Solomon News Drum was taken over by five Solomon Islanders (the government sold it to them for one dollar) and renamed the Solomon Star, and it has been run as a private newspaper ever since. Another early 'newspaper' was the cyclostyled Kakamora Reporter (1970-1975) (q.v.), which came out monthly or bimonthly. It was produced by a voluntary group and contained the views of 'educated' Solomon Islanders, generally presenting 'radical' opinions through letters to the editor. Then, in 1977, Solomons Toktok was begun as a weekly, edited by a Makiran, George Atkin. It was backed by the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce, though the Chamber had no editorial interest in the paper. The associated company was News Ltd. In the same year, the Nationalist (later Nationalist Democratic) Party started a ten-page news sheet called Nadepa to publicise its views and the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly.
The Melanesian Nius was published from January to March 1977, edited by George Atkin, but it closed due to financial difficulties. Atkin then edited Solomons Toktok from August 1977 to December 1978. The latter began with a print run of eight hundred copies but by December had increased its production from one thousand to 1,500 copies a week. (STT 13 Dec. 1978)
District Commissioners also issued monthly newsletters in simple English to communicate issues of local interest within their districts. In 1967, these had a combined circulation of over 2,300 copies. (NS 7 June 1967, no. 8, 1969; AR 1974, 11; SND 26 Aug. 1977; Raraka 1972)
- Raraka, Henry, 'The Melanesian Press', in R.J. May (ed.), Priorities in Melanesian Development, University of Papua and New Guinea and the Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, Port Moresby and Canberra, 1972, pp. 437-439. Details
- Solomons News Drum, 1974-1982. Details
- Solomon Toktok, 1977-1992. Details
- British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details
- British Solomon Islands Protectorate, British Solomon Islands Protectorate Annual Reports (AR), 1896-1973. Details