Back Issues 13.11.03

STOP BUGGING US

Journalists and printers on the Brighton Evening Argus staged a strike after a bugging device was discovered in the canteen, where the NUJ was holding a meeting. The journalists claimed they were able to hear their own meeting on a VHF radio frequency. They had become suspicious after management had “quoted verbatim” things said at previous chapel meetings. Using an electronic device, the bug was located inside an adaptor, plugged into a wall socket. On the back of the adaptor was a note: “Return to managing director’s office.” The journalists went back to work after the paper offered an independent inquiry and all the offices were swept for bugs.

FREEDOM AND INTEGRITY

The Reed Group had turned down a £100m bid for Mirror Group Newspapers by a consortium of MGN journalists and two merchant banks. The journalists claimed their bid was the best way of protecting the papers’ editorial freedom and integrity. The next year the group was bought by Robert Maxwell.

RECORDER MOVES ON

A bit of Fleet Street history came down when one of the oldest “mastheads” in Fleet Street, the 122year-old Methodist Recorder, was removed as the paper moved to bigger premises in Golden Lane.

IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, DON’T READ IT

A complaint against the News of the World, that its coverage of “a love tryst” between Prince Andrew and Koo Stark was an unethical intrusion into the Prince’s private life, was rejected by the Press Council. The complaint came from reader Bruce Stevens of Plaistow. The Press Council heard he had first complained to NoW editor Derek Jameson, but got short shrift. Jameson told him: “You pay your money and take your choice – if you don’t like this newspaper, don’t read it. What could be fairer than that?”

SHAH DISPUTE WORSENS

The 20-week dispute at Eddy Shah’s Stockport Messenger group of free newspapers had reached boiling point after the NGA print  union refused to pay a £50,000 fine for failing to stop illegal secondary picketing of its Warrington print works by more than 600  members of more than a dozen unions. The dispute was over NGA demands for a  union only closed shop. It gave beleaguered Shah a
national profile and contact with Fleet Street. Shah later outlined to Andrew Neil, then editing Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times, how he believed a national newspaper could be launched using new technology. In March 1986, Shah’s dream became a reality with the launch of Today. He is now seen as the catalyst for the introduction of new technology to the national press over the heads of the print unions.

POST-ECHO’S FINAL GOOD EVENING

The Hemel Hempstead Evening Post-Echo rolled off the presses for the last time. The Thomson Regional Newspapers-owned title had failed to find a buyer. The Post-Echo was the result of a merger in 1976 of the Watford Evening Echo and the Evening Post, which covered Luton, Dunstable and Bedfordshire. Sales haddropped from 93,000 to 61,876 and the paperwas said to be losing £1m a year. Under the front-page splash “Goodbye!”, editor Trevor Wade wrote: “The paper that was born of the optimism of the swinging Sixties and survived the strife of the Seventies has been overtaken by the economies of the Eighties.”

FRANK WANTS TO DO IT HIS WAY

Journalists in the US were rallying behind writer Kitty Kelly who was being sued for the equivalent of £1m by Frank Sinatra for planning to write his biography. Sinatra claimed only he had the right to produce such a book. Kelly told a meeting of Washington journalists that the singer’s attack on her was an attack on the press as a whole.

 

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