Four things govern a newspaper’s existence, former Border Morning Mail editor Clifton Mott was quoted in the paper’s editorial today : “To inform, to guide, to entertain and to make a profit.”
Yesterday the Mott family achieved the fourth goal when Border Mail chairman Robert Mott confirmed that the daily regional newspaper published in Albury-Wodonga by his family for over a century would be sold to Fairfax for $155 million. The deal will lead to Fairfax taking full ownership of the unlisted public company that publishes The Border Mail and 51% of Border Mail Printing Pty Ltd.
“It is with mixed emotions that the BMM directors unanimously recommend the sale of the company. However, the time is right for the Mott family to move on,” Mott said. “The shareholding in The Border Morning Mail Limited has become quite diverse through many branches of the family and through inheritance,” he said. “It is no longer the close-knit family group as it was when my father and my grandfather and grandmother were shareholders.”
The Mott family’s long history in newspapers extends back to 1856, when George Mott started The Border Post. George’s sons, Hamilton and Decimus, then launched The Border Morning Mail, printing its first edition on 24 October 1903. “It will be tied to no political party, to no political clique, to no political candidate,” wrote Hamilton Mott in the paper’s inaugural editorial.
Clif Mott joined the paper in 1924 as a messenger boy and “sweeper-up,” graduating in 1927 to reporter, then sub-editor and later editor. His sister Haidee was also a reporter, while Tennyson and Melbourne worked on the technical side.
Under Robert Mott – who is also a senior partner and leading M&A lawyer at law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth – the Border-Mail has more than 200 people on the payroll of both the paper and the family printing company. Their tabloid daily has become one of Australia’s most highly awarded regional newspapers, winning the Meacham Award 11 times in 29 years and PANPA’s newspaper of the year in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. Last year its average daily circulation was 26,361.
All of which translates into a tidy profit for the Mott family, courtesy of an acquisitive David Kirk at Fairfax.