Back Issues 16.09.05

SEPTEMBER 1985

BY JON SLATTERY

Comedian in the running for Sporting Life purchase

Private Eye
owner and comedian Peter Cook was in the running to buy the Sporting
Life, which MGN publisher Robert Maxwell had put up for sale. Cook told
Press Gazette that he “and a group of punters” would be interested in
taking over the Life, which he regarded as “a good
newspaper”. Cook listed his recreations in Who’s Who as gambling,
gossip and golf.

Surprise shifts at top of MGN

A re-shuffle at MGN saw Richard Stott moving over from the editor’s
chair at the Sunday People to take up the post of Daily Mirror editor.
He succeeded Mike Molloy, who was appointed MGN’s editorin- chief after
editing the Mirror for a decade. Taking over at the Sunday People was
Ernie Burrington. In an interview with Press Gazette, Burrington
recalled his first big scoop obtained as a schoolboy. It was about a
German bomber that crashed near his school, and made the splash in the
Oldham Evening Chronicle.

An impressed Chronicle editor told Burrington: “Stick at it lad. We’ll see you later when you’ve long trousers on.”

Unions under pressure as showdown loomed

Fleet Street’s print unions were under intense pressure ahead of a
meeting with Rupert Murdoch over plans to move News Group titles to his
new printing plant at Wapping. News Group had confirmed that it was
looking for a distribution system for its planned London evening paper,
the London Post, which would by-pass the SOGAT union. This had
increased speculation that Murdoch might follow Eddy Shah in agreeing a
single-union deal with the EETPU union for Wapping. There were also
claims that police stations in Docklands were being stockpiled with
riot equipment and that the Wapping plant was being fortified. This
suggested a final showdown with the print unions was on the cards.

Investigator Hale goes to Matlock Mercury

Don Hale was appointed editor of the Matlock Mercury. Hale, who
joined the paper from the Bury Messenger, went on to make his name and
win a string of prestigious awards for his successful campaign to free
Stephen Downing, who was serving a life sentence for murder.

Train in the old-fashioned way

Bedfordshire on Sunday had advertised for a junior reporter,
offering to train him or her the old-fashioned way. “In the old
days,” the advert ran, “junior reporters were bought up the hard
way; being run from pillar to post and being saddled with the menial
jobs. They proved themselves by taking it on the chin, keeping their
eyes and ears open and grabbing their chances. Now they are expected to
have A-levels and to spend half their time at colleges, where failed
journalists try to teach a job that is best learned on the street.

Bedfordshire on Sunday prefers it the old way.” The ad was written
by BoS owner and editor Frank Branston, who confessed to Press Gazette
he had only two O-levels. This didn’t stop him winning the Provincial
Journalist of the Year award or selling BoS and his other papers in a
multi-million pound deal last month.

Free papers failing to report councils

Free newspapers were failing to fill the gap in reporting local
government affairs left by the decline in traditional paid-for weekly
titles, according to a survey by the Society of County and Regional
Public Relations Officers. Survey results showed that while the 34
English and Welsh counties and three Scottish regions were covered by
344 weekly free papers, only eight regularly sent reporters to cover
council meetings.

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