Back Issues 03.04.03

Inaccurate observation

Rumours were rife that The Observer was to be sold by Tiny Rowland’s Lonrho to The Independent. Another rumour was that Lonrho was going to take a majority stake in Newspaper Publishing, publisher of The Independent, and The Independent on Sunday. In the end The Observer was saved from a merger when The Guardian emerged as the winning bidder.

It was an inside job

Freelance Alan Jackson said he was suing The Sun after his interview for The Times Magazine, revealing that Frankie Goes to Hollywood singer Holly Johnson was HIV positive, appeared in the redtop under Piers Morgan’s byline. The Sun had the story two days before it was due to appear as an exclusive in The Times Magazine and The Times said Johnson had spoken to no other journalists apart from Jackson. Speculation at News International was that copies of the magazine had arrived ahead of publication deadlines and not been guarded closely.

Conspiracy theory

Labour MP Clive Soley accused Tory MPs of sabotaging his freedom and responsibility of the press bill with wrecking amendments inspired by News International. The accusation was denied by NI’s corporate affairs director, Jane Reed, who countered that Soley was resorting to personal attacks on those who did not share his views about the press.

Maxwell wish right or wrong

According to Dog, a piece of Maxwell memorabilia was being offered for sale by BBC Pebble Mill publicity head Jerry Johns with the proceeds going to the Newspaper Press Fund. It was Cap’n Bob’s reply to a letter sent out by a schoolboy to celebrities in 1985 asking them what invention would make the world a better place. The former Mirror Group publisher stated: “The thing I would most like to see invented is a way of teaching children and grown ups the difference between right and wrong.”

Hello, is everything Ok!

OK! and Hello! started as they meant to go on, disputing each other’s sales figures. Newly launched OK! was claiming 400,000 sales after its first issue, but Hello! said its sampling showed a much lower figure. Today, OK! sells more than 630,000 and has overtaken Hello!

Putting a foot in it

Paul Foot had finally left the Daily Mirror claiming he had been “driven out” after the newspaper spiked his column which referred to the large-scale sackings of journalists under chief executive David Montgomery. Foot was enraged that a press release had been put out via the Mirror newsdesk quoting editor David Banks saying the award-winning columnist had been offered sick leave and stating “we hope he seeks professional help”. The Mirror NUJ chapel said it was “heartbroken at losing a wonderful colleague and superb journalist”. Press Gazette printed Foot’s spiked column much to the anger of the Mirror management which issued legal proceedings against the magazine for breach of copyright.

A little Irish Ditty

Ireland Radio News, based at the Dublin pop station 98FM, was causing a storm among its listeners in the west of the country. It was receiving “complaints from stations, where the pace of life and broadcasting are slower, that its bulletins are too fast and slick”. Following talks the station slowed down the pace of its national and international news.

Buerk honoured

Michael Buerk was honoured by the media world when he was named radio broadcaster of the year by the Broadcasting Press Guild. He was honoured for his Radio 4 programmes The Moral Maze and Africa – Deadline for the Dark Continent.

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