Back Issues 19.08.05

AUGUST 1985

BY JON SLATTERY

Free newspaper owners cash in

Journalists who had launched their own free newspapers hit the
jackpot in the 1980s when the established newspaper groups came calling
with open chequebooks, wanting to buy the new titles. One
entrepreneurial journalist who cashed in was former Daily Express City
sub Paul Morgan. He had launched the South London Guardian series and
in less that eight years had sold out to Reed, making a healthy £7.5m.
Morgan recalled in Press Gazette the early days when he was selling
adverts by day, writing at night and subbing at dawn.

BBC pulls IRA programme after Thatcher blast

The BBC governors were under fire for pulling the Real Lives
documentary on the Troubles in Northern Ireland – which featured Martin
McGuinness, believed to be chief of staff of the IRA – at the request
of home secretary Leon Brittan. The programme became hot news after The
Sunday Times ran a preview and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was
quizzed about it by the press while she was on a visit to Washington.
Thatcher responded: “The IRA is proscribed in Britain and in the
Republic of Ireland. We have lost between 2,000 and 2,500 people in the
past 16 years.” She said that if the BBC went ahead with the broadcast
she would “condemn them utterly”. NUJ members at the BBC called a
24-hour strike in protest and passed a vote of no confidence in the
governors.

Black mark for Hitchens

Conrad Black, then a shareholder in The Telegraph Group but not yet
the owner, had unleashed an attack on Christopher Hitchens in the
letters pages of The Spectator. Black described an article by Hitchens
on President Ronald Reagan as “nasty, macabre, vulgar and insolent
claptrap”. He also revealed why he had taken a 14 per cent stake in the
Telegraph, claiming it was “one of the few British publications whose
reports on the US are not habitually snobbish, envious and simplistic”.

Too much swearing

A woman complained to the Press Council over a local newspaper’s use
of four-letter words in a report of a rape trial. The woman told the
Press Council that she had heard the words used in the Lymington Times
but would never use them or expect to read them in a newspaper. The
council upheld the complaint, claiming the use of language by the
Lymington Times was “excessive and improper”.

Petrol bomb at home of paper group’s chairman

Two petrol bombs were found at the home of Malcolm Graham, the
83-year-old chairman of the Wolverhampton-based Express and Star
newspaper group. The company had been involved in a bitter new
technology industrial dispute, in which 69 printers were sacked.

Graham was phlegmatic. “I don’t think they will do such a foolish
thing again,” he said, adding he would not be bullied out of his home.

Large is lovely for Cachet

A new magazine called Cachet, aimed at “larger ladies”, was due to
launch in the following October. The cover girl was five feet nine,
240lb Ann Harper, who had 50-inch hips. Cachet director Rhonda Davis
claimed when Harper walked into a room the reaction was: “Eat your
heart out, skinnies!”

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