Back Issues 07.04.04

ONE OF THE GREATS

Rene Cutforth, one of the country’s best-known foreign correspondents, had died aged 75. His long-time friend James Cameron called him the greatest foreign correspondent and radio journalist of his generation. Cutforth worked for the BBC for almost 40 years and also made a feature series called European Journey for Granada Television.

GUARDIAN PAIN AS TISDALL JAILED

There was agony at The Guardian after Foreign Office mole Sarah Tisdall was jailed for six months for leaking a memo to the paper. The Guardian had handed back the memo after losing a court action. Press Gazette commented: “Miss Tisdall’s sentence led to a public self-flagellation on a scale of which only The Guardian, among Fleet Street newspapers, is capable of.” The Guardian NUJ chapel raised £2,000 for Tisdall and suggested the paper should give her a job when she was freed from prison.

BATTLE OF TRELFORD

Observer editor Donald Trelford was locked in a struggle with the paper’s proprietor Tiny Rowland, chairman of the Lonrho Group. Rowland had been critical of a front-page story by Trelford about alleged government atrocities in Zimbabwe. Lonrho had massive financial interests in southern Africa and Rowland had apologised to Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Robert Mugabe. Trelford said there was “no question” of resigning and he was backed by his journalists. Lonrho’s disenchantment became total when it withdrew its advertising and demanded Observer management draw up plans for making the title stand on its own feet financially. The independent directors censured Rowland for interfering with the editor’s freedom.

TECHNOLOGY IS THE WAY FORWARD

Information and technology minister Kenneth Baker warned the national newspaper industry it faced extinction if it did not embrace technology. Speaking at a Newspaper Society lunch, Baker said: “While local newspapers have been able to adopt new technology, Fleet Street has remained embedded in another age.” He added: “History has far too many examples of those who try to ignore technology finally being overwhelmed by it. What you have to decide is whether you are going to march with it or be trampled underfoot.”

SHAH’S MANCHESTER CLASH

Manchester City Council had pulled all advertising from Eddy Shah’s Stockport Messenger group because of its high-profile dispute with the NGA print union. The council said it did not want to advertise with an anti-union group. Shah claimed the council was “jumping on the left-wing bandwagon”.

UNION BOSS CROSSES STAFF

NUJ general secretary Ken Ashton crossed a picket line of the union’s staff outside its Acorn House headquarters in London. The staff, members of the Association of Professional, Executive, Clerical and Computer Staff (APEX), were on strike over a pay dispute and the introduction of new technology.

SCOTTISH BUSINESS INSIDER SUCCESS

Two redundant Sunday Standard journalists, Ray Perman and Alastair Balfour, had launched a magazine, Scottish Business Insider. Publisher and co-editor Perman was backing the magazine with his redundancy money, which had been in the bank since the Standard folded the previous year. The magazine thrived and became part of Trinity Mirror in 1999.

MEMORIES OF MUGGERIDGE

Veteran journalist Malcolm Muggeridge had the following advice for Westminster Press trainees: “Approach journalism with infinite scepticism at every point. If you believe it, it can be destructive.” In a forerunner of the great “dumbing-down” debate, Muggeridge claimed newspapers were trying to ape television by “filling pages with pictures rather than words”.

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