Back Issues 11.11.04

MAXWELL’S OMBUDSMAN

Robert Maxwell announced plans to have an ombudsman to rule on serious complaints against the Daily Mirror and its sister titles. “The British public has no confidence in the British press,” he said. Maxwell claimed there wasn’t a newspaper in Fleet Street which had not been guilty of fabrication.

PORTSMOUTH PIONEERS

Before Rupert Murdoch left the print unions behind in the escape to Wapping, it was the regional press that was pioneering  computerised single-key editorial systems. The focus 20 years ago was on The News, Portsmouth, which was bringing in the new technology cutting printers’ jobs in the composing room. A complex inter-union dispute broke out between the NGA print union and the NUJ. The NGA wanted three of its members at The News Centre (above) transferred to editorial, but the NUJ argued that it represented editorial staff.

LAWSON FACED DOWN

There was great concern in the press that Chancellor Nigel Lawson was about to impose VAT on newspapers and magazines. It was argued that four national newspapers would die and magazines would lose up to 10 per cent of their circulation if the press lost its cherished zero-rating. A vigorous ‘no tax on reading’ campaign won the day and Lawson backed off.

VINTAGE FOOTAGE

Michael Buerk’s unforgettable BBC reports on the famine in Ethiopia, accompanied by the film shot by Mohamed Amin for Visnews, had provoked an unprecedented public response. Buerk, speaking to Press Gazette from Addis Ababa, said: “Although the response from the film is gratifying, the problems are enormous. They will not be solved by a couple of minutes of television film. I just hope the effect on television is not a transitory one.” Funds raised by newspapers included £60,000 by the Evening Argus, Brighton; £100,000 by The Sun ; and £400,000 by the Daily Mirror. Some, however, found the sight of the Mirror’s giant proprietor Robert Maxwell flying into Ethiopia in the Mirror famine relief plane hard to stomach. And journalists on the Lancashire Evening Telegraph said they were ‘sickened’ by a famine fund-raising competition in their own paper. It offered readers a prize – of a microwave oven.

MEDIA WEEK ON THE WAY

Media Week was planning to launch in February 1985 with £500,000 backing from Patey Doyle. Tim Brooks, now a top IPC executive, was editor and Ron McKay executive editor. Both were exCampaign staffers. John Thater, who went on to head Emap Media, was publisher.

JONES UP

Clive Jones, now supremo of ITV News, was working his way up the ranks and had been appointed head of news, current affairs and sport at regional station TVS.

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