Back Issues 29.05.03

Old firm concerns

ITN was in trouble with Glasgow Corporation for its report of the Celtic-Rangers Scottish Cup Final in which three people died and 40 were injured. The corporation complained it was only after the announcer had read the news that it was made clear the casualties had collapsed on the terraces and were not caused by flying bottles. The Lord Provost said the corporation was worried about its image south of the border and would be appointing a public relations officer soon.

Mirror comes to Times defence

There was controversy over The Times’s decision to publish an extract from the transcript of a tape recording of a child victim, produced in evidence during the trial of the Moors murderers. The rest of the press considered them too harrowing. The Daily Mirror defended The Times claiming it had “a special audience. Barristers and judges read it to assess with what skill and prudence their colleagues are conducting their advocacy and deliberations.”

TV gets the thumbs up

With Big Brother and soaps dominating much of the news in today’s tabloids and magazines, it is strange to think that at one time television was cold-shouldered by the national press. In 1966 there was a sign that the times were changing. Press Gazette, then just five-months-old, splashed on the news that two national dailies had acknowledged the growing importance of television. At The Guardian, Gerald Fay was switching from editing the London Letter to write about television, and over at The Times, Robert Cooper was recalled from Paris to be the first regular writer of the TV Looking In column. Guardian editor Alastair Hetherington commented: “The medium has been treated here as a Cinderella. The move recognises that TV is of more interest to more people than any other field of the arts.”

Gutter press

The Daily Mirror had a picture exclusive of press baron Lord Thomson in Paris seen picking up a coin from the gutter. Dog revealed that his Lordship had agreed to pose and the franc was put in the gutter by the Mirror photographer.

Subbing techniques

Press Gazette looked at sub-editing, with advice to trainees at Harlow Technical College from Daily Express chief sub Douglas Orgill. He said the first requirement of a sub was accuracy. They also needed a proper feeling for a story and speed. “Always respect the man who wrote the story,” he advised. “Don’t change his story unless you are sure you are improving it. Don’t change it unnecessarily and, above all, don’t change it just to demonstrate to executives that you have, at least, been doing something with it.”

Expensive promise

The Mansfield Chronicle Advertiser had promised to give Mansfield Town FC £500 if it avoided relegation, plus £10 for every goal scored. Sadly, for the Chronicle’s bank balance, the Stags survived.

Wild allegations

The BBC was being sued in the High Court over a stuffed polar bear called Harold, allegedly damaged during an appearance on the children’s programme Blue Peter.

Now number one

Legendary News of the World editor Stafford Somerfield was hitting out at the paper’s critics. “You may have noticed, on television and in the highbrow magazines, some jealous remarks over the continuing success of the News of the World,” he said in the annual report. “Our achievement in my view is the most remarkable in the history of the newspaper world. What other walk of life has one team, or one product, kept the lead over all its rivals for half-a-century? I can think of none.” The report said it took 15,000 trees to print one week’s edition of the NoW.

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