New Evening Herald editor Alan Qualtrough, employed for his Fleet Street skills, showed flair last Friday when the first reports of the Jill Dando murder trial came out of the Old Bailey.
He stopped the run of the Plymouth-based paper after 15,000 copies of the first edition, wiped out pages one, two and three and replaced them with the Dando evidence. The paper was off-stone at 11.45am and on the streets before the lunchtime television and radio news and way ahead of the next day’s national newspapers. It netted the Herald a three per cent increase in sales.
The layout and headline "How Jill Dando was shot" was almost identical to the front pages of both The Mirror and the Daily Mail.
The Herald team began planning the three pages on the previous Wednesday. They made only one change to the headline – from "Why" to "How" – and Qualtrough left the action in the hands of deputy John Richards and news editor Bill Martin while he attended a meeting with MPs on the foot and mouth crisis at Exeter.
"There was one heart-stopping moment when there was a delay in getting the trial started," said Qualtrough. "It’s an example of what regional dailies should do best – printing tomorrow’s national news on the day."
by Jean Morgan