The Marlborough Express was Marlborough's daily newspaper from 1880 to 2017, when falling advertising revenue resulted in publication cuts to three days a week. The Expresss was founded by Samuel Johnson in 1866. At the time of its founding it faced competition from two other newspapers, however it has been suggested that political rivalry between Blenheim and Picton meant that promoting a provincial newspaper that served the whole region gave it an advantage over its rivals the Marlborough Press, and the Wairau Record, which served Picton and Blenheim respectively.
In 1879 Johnson sold the Express to Smith Furness and James Boudy. In 1880, under its new owners, the Express became a daily newspaper, and in 1895 it bought its competitor the Marlborough Times, and later the Marlborough Press in 1948.
In 1985 The Express introduced the free weekly Saturday Express, distributed to nearly all households in Marlborough. Circulation of this free paper as of the end of March 2005 was estimated at 18,609 based on official statistics.
The Express remained in the Furness family until 1998 when it was sold to Independent Newspapers Limited, controlled by global media magnate Rupert Murdoch. In 2003 Australian media group, John Fairfax Holdings Ltd, purchased the publishing assets of INL. On the 1st of February 2018, Fairfax NZ Limited was renamed to Stuff limited. After the merger of Australian parent Fairfax and Nine television in 2018, the merged Australian parent has put Stuff on the market.
In response to the growing popularity and advertising success of the rival Blenheim Sun, the Express lauched a second free paper, the Marlborough Midweek in November 2004. Unlike the Saturday Express, the Midweek produced a considerable amount of controversy, and inital mixed results, as some locals saw this as a cynical approach by the incumbent to undermine the underdog, and boycotted the Marlborough Midweek. Early editions of the Midweek also tended to be relatively light on original local content, with a considerable amount of content being sourced from other Fairfax properties, possibly to avoid competition with the daily Marlborough Express, however over time, both quality of content has improved. In May 2017 publication of the Midweek moved to Thursday, as part of a restructuring of publishing operations.
The Express was printed in Blenheim until 2011 when local printing ended and printing moved to Nelson. In 2016, the fomer Express buildings were demolished after the paper moved into new, smaller premises. Printing facilities in Nelson closed in 2017, and currently the Marlborough Express is printed in Christchurch. Some historic equipment from the Express can be seen at Brayshaw Park.
Many articles from the Marlborough Express can be freely viewed online as part of the Stuff web site, while a complete digital replica can be accessed online for a subscription.
The National Library of New Zealand has online digitised archives of the Marlborough Express from 1868-1900
As of March 2005 the Marlborough Express had a readership of 10,362 (Source Fairfax NZ)
For the 2016 year, the Marlborough Express had a monthly readership of 26,000 (source Neilson CMI)
As of 31st of March 2017 the Marlborough Express had a circulation of 5588 copies, representing a fall of 8.02% over the previous 12 months. (Souce New Zealand Audit Bureau of Circulation Inc. link)
Sources: National Library of NZ, Fairfax NZ