Kiss and tells are not worth the legal hassle and no longer sell well, according to one tabloid editor.
The claim is supported by unofficial industry estimates of circulation figures for the News of the World taken from when it has splashed with a kiss-and-tell stories in the last year.
Press Gazette has seen unofficial industry estimates for the following NoW splash stories: “Crouch Beds £800 teen hooker” (8/8/10), “Cheating Roo beds hooker” (5/9/10), “Toon star’s cocaine and sex orgy” (7/11/10), “Matt’s a cheating sex addict (24/11/10) and “I bedded Roo’s Man U team mate” (27/4/11). According to the estimates, “Cheating Roo beds hooker” – the story about Wayne Rooney cheating on his pregnant wife with a prostitute in a hotel room – was the only story to achieve a substantial week-on-week sales uplift. The other editions were either flat or slightly down week on week.
The News of the World declined to comment on these figures.
The editor, who did not wish to be named, said of kiss and tells: ‘We genuinely don’t do that many of them any more. It used to be the stock in trade only a few years back, you wouldn’t have a newslist without a few on there.
‘We got pursued a lot more for kiss and tells, it became such a legal minefield that we decided it’s really not worth the hassle of doing these and we don’t really get a reaction.
‘I don’t know if this whole super-injunction malarkey will lead to people dusting off their old notebooks and going back and visiting a load of people that previously nobody would have given a monkey’s about. ‘The truth is that 99 per cent of the time they don’t really sell.”
With the press still gagged from naming the colleague that RBS boss Sir Fred Goodwin is alleged to have had an affair with, the editor also sounded a warning to those who support the increasingly tough stance on privacy taken by judges.
‘Every time people throw up a reason that it’s fantastic the popular press is more shackled than it was before there’s a case that knocks it straight back down their throats, like Fred Goodwin,’he said.
‘There is no black and white on this. The cases that have come out in the open show completely that there is a public interest in having that freedom there.
‘If the price we have to pay for that is that there are also stories about bonking footballers and actors then so be it.’
An investigation into Ryan Giggs and the demise of kiss and tell is the cover story in the June edition of Press Gazette magazine (only available to subscribers).
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