Back Issues 21.10.05

OCTOBER 1990

BY JON SLATTERY

Don’t blame the journos

Journalists on The People were livid after being told they would not
be getting their annual summer pay rise because of the high level of
legal costs wracked up by the paper under previous editors.

The management buy-out team, headed by editor Richard Stott, faced
inherited libel costs of nearly £1m. NUJ FoC Frank Murphy claimed in a
letter to Stott: “It is my view that the staff cannot be reasonably
asked to pay the penalty for the rash management of affairs of a
previous incumbent.

Nobody but the staff knows how hard we fought
to restrain the journalistic excesses of that time and we were reminded
repeatedly it was none of our concern.”

Editors scorn call for ban on Commons leaks

Editors had poured scorn on a suggestion by a committee of senior
MPs that they should help stop leaks to the press. The approach came
because MPs were angry that select committee reports were getting into
the press before they were published. Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil
told Press Gazette: “It’s typical of the political classes of this
country that they think newspapers should be for their benefit and not
in the public interest.”

Sun backs out of Campbell column

The Sun had withdrawn an offer to run a column by New Statesman
journalist Duncan Campbell. Campbell said the offer was made after he
had complained to the paper describing him as a “shirt-lifter” and then
a hypocrite for complaining to The Sun’s ombudsman. Campbell said the
column idea came in a meeting with columnist Richard Littlejohn to
discuss his complaints. After he insisted on a legal contract stating
the column would not be censored, The Sun dropped the column offer
because it would be “too far outside our control,” Campbell claimed.

Not, Tonight Chester…

The country’s newest evening newspaper, Chester Tonight, had folded after just 17 months.

Launched
by Thomson Regional Newspapers, Tonight was seen as a bold bid to see
if new technology could make an evening paper viable on a limited
circulation.

Sales of Tonight were around 15,000. TRN blamed the closure, which cost 36 editorial jobs, on falling ad revenues.

Sacked Bath reporter blames ‘gag’

A
reporter was sacked after she sent a protest letter – outlining her
objections to a major new road scheme – to a planning inquiry she was
covering for her own paper. The Bath Evening Chronicle dismissed Hilary
Jennings for gross misconduct. Jennings, who was covering the
long-running Batheaston inquiry, refused to give the paper an
undertaking that she would not speak at the inquiry or make any public
statements on the issue. She accused the Chronicle of wanting to gag
her. “I think reporters should have the right to speak out on an issue
although I do accept they shouldn’t cover the same issue for the paper.”

Stubbed out

Smoke-filled newsrooms were beginning to be stubbed out. Latest
paper to adopt a no-smoking policy was the Derby Evening Telegraph. The
NUJ chapel had accepted a ban but asked for a health expert to be
brought in to help smokers kick the habit.

Monsters of Rock

This photo by Max Ewen of the Leicester Mercury won news category in
the monthly Kodak Press Awards but never appeared, as it was considered
unsuitable for a “family paper”.

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