When the first edition of what was then known as The Evening Post was printed on 30 June 1890, the Island was a very different place.
Motor cars were unheard of; there was no Airport, as planes were yet to fly; the phrase ‘world war’ had yet to be coined; and the Island’s population, at 54,518, was not far off half what it is today.
And yet the pages of the very first editions set the template for what has remained a winning formula ever since.
Then as now, local, national and international news, advertisements, public information, letters and sport were the staple daily ingredients which have made this newspaper such an important part of Island life.
But the JEP is so much more than the sum of its parts. During good times and bad, through the pain of Occupation and the joy of Liberation, every step of the way it has been a reassuring keel for the community, keeping Islanders up to date with the amazing breadth and depth of stories which emerge from this little rock.
For 125 years, the Jersey Evening Post has sewn these stories together in tens of thousands of daily editions to create a unique and lasting narrative which helps to explain who we are and how we got here. Our story really is your history.
On a glorious June day with the NatWest Island Games in full swing and with Jersey at the top of the medals table, there is no better time to celebrate the Island and its newspaper.
Anniversaries are a time to bring friends and family together, to have a drink, to share memories and to look forward to a bright future.
Today, on the balmiest of summer evenings, I invite you, the latest generations of our readers, to join me and all those who have worked at the newspaper in wishing the JEP a very happy birthday.
If you haven’t yet picked up a copy of our special 64-page anniversary supplement, which was free inside this weekend’s JEP, then back copies are available from the reception of our offices at Five Oaks. It is packed with great stories and amazing pictures from our unique archives.
THE JEP’s 125th birthday is an opportunity to celebrate our unique role at the very heart of community life. But what now?
We are proud of our heritage but committed to our future – it’s a well-worn phrase, but one that has true resonance at the newspaper.
No business can afford to stand still, rest on its laurels or become complacent, and even the JEP, with its long and respectable pedigree, needs to constantly adapt in order to survive and constantly develop in order to thrive.
For generations, Islanders have turned to us to provide an accurate and independent record of Island life, to report fairly and with authority on every aspect of a fantastic community.
In many ways, maintaining that core purpose and responsibility has never been harder or under more pressure.
We now have a greater proportion of transient population than ever before.
We are living in the age of the spin doctor who exists to manipulate the news agenda, and have to seek the truth in a political and legal landscape which sees constant attempts to subvert transparency.
And then there is the unrelenting march of technology that has turned traditional print and broadcast media on its head over recent years.
Compare Jersey with cities or communities in the UK of a similar population and you will see countless examples of daily and weekly newspapers dwindling into insignificance. During the past five years, many have closed down altogether.
Despite these challenges and repeated predictions of the demise of mainstream media, we remain firmly committed to fulfilling our obligation to the Island we serve with researched, impartial, responsible and reliable reporting.
Previously, this obligation would have been fulfilled by just the newspaper, but increasingly we are engaging with readers through specialist publications and various online platforms to reach the widest possible audience.
Our online development may not have grabbed the headlines, but it has been measured, diligent and creative.
The JEP was one of the first regional publishers to create a responsive website (one that automatically renders to any device, be it desktop, mobile or tablet) and is a pioneer in developing niche-interest sites such as Loves Food, Boutique Jersey and Bought and Sold, which cater for select, but engaged, groups of consumers and advertisers.
As well as specialist websites, we’ve also developed wider services, including Jersey Loves Sport, an online hub for clubs, associations and members to develop Island sport, and BiSi, a peer-to-peer marketplace that combines in-paper and online advertising for private sales and swaps, and our popular Ecycle section, which has shared thousands of used items around the community.
Our Motoring and Property websites were recently relaunched with enhanced search facilities, developments which have been well received with significant increases in users and page views. Our Jobs section is under review for a similar treatment before the end of the year.
But the future of the JEP is not all about what we do online.
We are currently planning to invest in the printing of the JEP as some components of our current press are more than 50 years old.
It is hoped, before our 125th anniversary year concludes, that we will be announcing a huge leap forward for the JEP, in partnership with an international digital printing press provider, to site the world’s first fully digital newspaper printing facility in Jersey.
The press would enable us to print full colour on every page, reduce waste, eliminate the need for chemicals and be more energy efficient.
Much of the development work we have pioneered in recent years has been in providing subscription services and reader bundles which incorporate our services, much like a menu where you can have the full meal or just select certain elements that best suit you.
This allows the reader to decide how best to consume their JEP and then choose from a range of options, such as home delivery of the physical paper or downloading an e-reader version or accessing it on their mobile as an enhanced news package with video, archives and additional content.
When readers sign up to any of these membership plans they can make significant savings and get additional benefits like home delivery of the newspaper, exclusive competitions and offers, as well as being able to access their JEP anywhere in the world, on any device, in any format. This initiative has been adopted by over 2,000 JEP readers who are already benefiting from the convenience and savings.
More than half of Jersey’s adult population still read the newspaper every day, and a further 11,312 readers access our content online, plus 29,815 follow/like us across JEP social media platforms. No other media can get close to this level of coverage.
The content we curate is, of course, more important than the method of its delivery.
The way we serve information to our readers may have changed over the years, but the core values of the JEP, like our commitment to Jersey, will always remain.