10 unusual names for a newspaper
- 3 February 2011
- From the section Magazine
News Corp has launched a paper for the iPad called only "the Daily". It joins a long line of unusual-sounding newspaper names.
In the UK, and indeed in much of the rest of the English-speaking world, some names seem like normal newspaper names. Titles including Post, Mail, Times, Gazette, Journal, Chronicle, Examiner, and sundry others, sound quintessentially like newspapers.
But there are other more exotic names that are not always so self-explanatory.
1. One may or may not be familiar with the Daily Universal Register, but people are almost certainly familiar with the newspaper it became, the Times. It only had the longer moniker for three years.
It changed on 1 January 1788 and an editorial explained the change as a result of the shortening of the original title. With the words "Daily" and "Universal" commonly omitted, customers asking for the "Register" in coffee houses were given the wrong thing. Any number of publications had "Register" in the title - including Harris's Register of Ladies.
The new name would provoke no such shortening, the editorial said, as the Times "being a monosyllable bids defiance to corrupters and mutilaters of the language". This did not stop William Cobbett in 1802 founding his Weekly Political Register.
2. One of Jamaica's main national newspapers, the Gleaner makes perfect etymological sense. In the words of the OED, to glean is "to gather or pick up ears of corn which have been left by the reapers". From the 17th Century at least it has been used to refer to the gathering of information.
3. More literally, the Pink Un was a primarily football newspaper in Norfolk, so-called because it was printed on pink paper. A number of other titles have been bestowed the title informally over the years, including the Sporting Times (which closed in 1932), the Financial Times and the Liverpool Echo's Football Echo. All were so called because of their pink paper.
4. The Cleveland Plain Dealer aims to do exactly what it says in the title. It has been parodied by Chicago University's satirical title Chicago Shady Dealer.
5. The Daily Beast is a real news entity named after a fictional one. Tina Brown's news website has little in common with the newspaper at the centre of Evelyn Waugh's novel Scoop. In the book, the paper is owned by the intimidating Lord Copper. Its countryside columnist finds himself accidentally dispatched to cover an African war.
6. The Odd Fellow was a curious mix of newspaper and literary journal that was published between 1839 and 1842. Its owner Henry Hetherington had previously published the London Dispatch. On 10 December 1842 the Odd Fellow announced that: "The title in future shall be the Fireside Journal, and Penny Miscellany of Wit, Humour, Literature, Amusement, and Romance."
It was to be "illustrated by wood-cuts, characteristic of the ups and downs of the Political World and the manners, customs, and foibles of society".
7. It's thought the name "Courant" spread from the Netherlands to Britain and America. The Leeuwarder Courant is the Netherlands' oldest newspaper, first published in 1752. And the Hartford Courant, which started in 1764, claims to be "America's oldest continuously published newspaper".
The OED has it in use to refer to messengers as far back as 1624, but as a newspaper name from 1621.
8. Mercury enjoys a similar meaning. As Mercury, the Roman god, was a winged messenger (influenced by the Greek god Hermes), so we assume a paper like the Leicester Mercury will bring us the news quickly.
9. Seeing as the OED has a use of "intelligencer" as "a bringer of news or information" as far back as 1569, it is perhaps surprising that the UK does not have more papers with this moniker. But in north America there are plenty, the Belleville Intelligencer and the Edwardsville Intelligencer among them.
10. The Daily seems to represent an effort to stand out. But only time will tell if it's a good name for an online newspaper. Readers are accustomed to the old names.
"They tend to be traditional suggestions of how they might be delivered," notes Chris Davenport, head of verbal identity at Interbrand. "My first reaction is 'The Daily' leaves you feeling like there should be something after it.
"The more crowded the marketplace the harder it is to find a more distinctive name. Trying to find a URL makes things much more difficult, particularly if you have an English word [as your title] and you want .com."