Back Issues 18.09.03

HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED

Price-cutting has become a way of life for some national papers, but there was a time when Fleet Street titles wanted to put up their prices – but weren’t allowed to by the Government. In September 1973, the Prices Commission had refused to allow The Times and The Sunday Timesto put up their cover prices and ad ratesbecause they had “failed to provide sufficient information”.
The commission also said that an application by Beaverbrook Newspapers had been withdrawn or lapsed.

ONE FOR ALL AND ALL FOR ONE

Left-wing titles had come up with a novel attempt to combat libel actions from political opponents. Inside Story, Peace News and the Catonsville Roadrunner had joined an anti-libel agreement that involved reprinting articles that had attracted libel action in each others’ publications. Inside Story editor Wynford Hicks told Press Gazette: “If we tell people who want to threaten us that the article will appear all over the left-wing press, this should deter many of them.”

BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY

Times journalists Martin Huckerby and Stephen Jessel were praised by the judge in the Old Bailey bomb trial. Huckerby and Jessel had gone to investigate a suspected car bomb outside the court. Huckerby was cut on the hands and face when the car exploded. Judge Sebag Shaw told Huckerby: “In order to let the public know what was happening you displayed great courage.” He said to Jessel: “The staff of The Times seemed to be infected with a reckless courage that day – hovering in the vicinity of the explosion.”

50 AND STILL NUMBER ONE

Radio Times celebrated its 50th birthday with a 100-page souvenir edition. Editor Geoffrey Cannon said: “We are very pleased, for Radio Times is the bestselling weekly magazine in Europe.” ABC figures for the first half of 1973 showed the magazine was averaging sales of 3,948,058 – up 377,000 on the previous year.

OSMONDMANIA

A new magazine devoted to pop sensations The Osmonds was launched by IPC. The monthly magazine, edited by Betty Hale, had an initial print run of 400,000. The first issue carried a seveninch flexible record with a message from the group.

NO CREDIT FOR DEMPSTER

The Daily Express had a fantastic scoop by having the only photographer, Harry Dempster, on a ship sent to rescue two men trapped in a mini-submarine off the coast of Ireland. The rest of Fleet Street was seething and complained to the head of Vickers, owner of the rescue ship Voyager. In the end a deal was brokered whereby the Express released Dempster’s pictures to the Press Association to be distributed to the rest of the press. Dempster had a rough time of it when he got back to land. He had a bag of his film seized by security guards, and was accused of being a stowaway. In the end, Press Gazette noted, the Mail, the Telegraph, the Mirror and The Times all published Dempster’s pictures. Not one gave him a credit.

DID THEY REALLY THINK THAT?

Press Gazette asked editors and proprietors whether a woman could edit a national newspaper. Larry Lamb, editorial director of News International, answered: “No, I don’t think we shall see a woman as editor of a national newspaper within the foreseeable future, for  easons which are blindingly obvious. Vive la différence!” Lord Thomson, chairman of Thomson Newspapers, concluded: “It’s not  mpossible to find genius in the form of a woman. But men don’t like taking orders from women, generally speaking.” Daily Mail editor David English was more positive. “Now that we have got women assistant editors, the answer is obviously yes. I think it might take another 20 years, but I see no reason why a woman should not be editor if she is good enough.” It took 14 years. Wendy Henry was made editor of the News of the World in 1987.

STEIN BAN AVOIDED

NUJ threats to “black” a column by Celtic’s legendary manager Jock Stein in the Sunday Mirror were called off after he agreed to meet union representatives and two photographers, who alleged Stein had harassed them.

 

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