Back Issues 30.10.03

CLASHING WITH REPORTERS

Foreign Secretary George Brown clashed with reporters at a press conference at the United Nations. He told them not to be so cynical about his proposals aimed at ending the war in Vietnam. The conference broke up after he snapped at a Cambodian journalist “Don’t be a silly ass.”

UNIVERSITY TRAINING

Former Picture Post editor Tom Hopkinson, the International Press Institute’s director for Africa, was returning to the UK to head the country’s first university training project for journalists. Thirty-five press organisationshad backed a £10,000, two-year pilot scheme toframe long-term plans for university education of journalists. Hopkinson, who was knighted in 1978, was made the first director of the Centre for Journalism Studies at University College, Cardiff, in 1970. It was the first university to run postgraduate training courses in journalism.

WARNING ON DISASTER INQUIRY

Newspapers andbroadcastersreacted scornfully to a warning by the Attorney General that their coverage of the aftermath of the Aberfan disaster should not prejudice the tribunal inquiry into the causes of the tragedy. The Times described it as the Attorney General’s terse 11th commandment: “Thou shall not comment on the tragedy of Aberfan.” Press Gazette’s Night Lawyer columnist said: “This is unprecedented. It is muddled thinking. It is difficult to see how a judgment can be prejudiced when there is no proceedings on foot, or even contemplated. This is an investigation into causes, not a judicial inquiry into blame.”

SKETCH REPRIMANDED

The Press Council came down heavily on the Daily Sketch for running a story based on an anonymous letter on forged notepaper that claimed Wandsworth Prison officers believed the spy George Blake was being given soft treatment. The Press Council said Sketch readers would have assumed there were five officers known to the paper who were protesting about conditions at the jail. Its ruling said: “The Press Council deplores the irresponsible conduct of the paper.”

THOMSON ORBITING LONDON

Lord Thomson was making the big industry news by acquiring a majority stake in The Times and announcing the launch of two evening papers around London. The acquisition of The Times was subject to Board of Trade approval. His two new evening papers were the Evening Post and the Evening Echo, to be based in Hemel Hempstead. The circulation of the papers took in Watford, St Albans, Luton, Stevenage and Bedford. With Thomson’s Reading Evening Post, launched a year earlier, they were part of an ambitious plan for a
ring of evening newspapers around London. Alas, although the Reading paper survives, the two Hemel Hempstead-based titles folded.

PITMAN SPEAKS OUT

Daily Express columnist Robert Pitman told the Monopolies Commission he wanted to give evidence against Lord Thomson being llowed to buy The Times. “We know that Lord Thomson does not interfere with editorial policies, but we do know that he interferes with  alaries,” he said. “His authorised biography makes it clear that salaries are kept as standard and low as possible. This is a
threat to independent enterprise of journalists.”

RECORD SALES

Lew Grade, ATV’s cigar-chewing managing director, announced the company’s programme sales abroad had reached a record £5.3m.They included the sale of Sir Lancelot to Singapore, William Tell to Romania, Danger Man and the Four Just Men to German-speaking minorities in northern Italy and Noddy to Iraq.

LABOUR OUTRAGE

 West Lothian Labour MP Tam Dalyell protested to BBC director general Sir Hugh Carleton Greene about a description on Panorama of parts of his constituency as “semi-rural, semi-slum”.

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