Back Issues 01.07.04

MARCH DOWN FLEET STREET

A march backing the miners’ strike passed down Fleet Street with many of the 20,000 demonstrators hurling abuse at the newspaper offices. Police with dogs guarded the offices of The Sun and News of the World in Bouverie Street as the marchers chanted: “We’ve got to get into The Sun.”

STOPPED PRESS

The Sun was off the streets for three days and the Financial Times and Daily Mirror were also hit by industrial action by printers supporting the miners’ strike. The Daily Express, Daily Star and Evening Standard escaped action by carrying an advert stating why print workers supported the miners. The Guardian and The Times both carried letters from the print unions.

NIGHTMARE ON FLEET STREET

Robert Maxwell realised his long ambition to become a press baron by buying Mirror Group Newspapers shortly after midnight on Friday 13, July 1984. Maxwell paid £113 million for the company from Reed. The NUJ was furious as there had been plans to float MGN.

Harry Conroy, an NUJ representative at the Daily Record in Glasgow, described the Maxwell takeover as “a nightmare come true.”

BUST-UP OVER TIME-KEEPING

More than 7,000 listeners to independent radio station BRMB signed a petition calling for the return of sacked sports editor Tony Butler, who was fired after a fracas with a country and western disc jockey. Butler was the station’s star presenter and allegedly took umbrage at a complaint by the DJ, Brian Savin, that asports bulletin hadoverrun into his airtime. An incident followed in which Savin’s hair was pulled and his shirt ripped. Journalists walked out in support of Butler.

EVENING MIRROR PLAN SCRAPPED

Press Gazette had got hold of a dummy of a London evening newspaper being planned by the Daily Mirror. The 56-page dummy had been printed in secret on a West Country press. The Evening Mirror was scrapped after the takeover of MGN by Robert Maxwell. He went on to launch the London Daily News.

TITLES CLOSE AFTER DISPUTE

A month-long pay dispute involving the NUJ at IPC Magazines led to the closure of Titbits after 103 years of publication. Titbits was a weekly miscellany of snippets of information that once had a weekly circulation of 300,000 and was regarded as a
begetter of modern popular journalism. Other titles closed in the wake of the dispute were Tammy, HiFi, Hers, Screen and True.

KELVIN’S ONE-MAN SHOW

Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie was editing the paper on his own after staff walked out in a pay dispute.

MacKenzie got his own back by using the by-line “Malcolm Wothers” – a joke aimed at the paper’s NUJ FoC Malcolm Withers. Asked if he was looking forward to having a rest on the coming Saturday, MacKenzie replied: “The only trouble is on Saturday you have to interview the Bingo winner. I’ll be doing that personally.

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