Back Issues 04.09.03


Andrew Neil was celebrating his 10th anniversary as Sunday Times editor by making the newspaper even bigger with a 12-page sports section. It was turned out in 48 hours, ahead of similar sections planned by The Observer, Independent on Sunday and The Sunday Telegraph. In a tribute to Neil’s decade as editor, Rupert Murdoch told Press Gazette: “He is the most successful Sunday newspaper editor, a man of great creativity and of passionate beliefs.”


Police in Twickenham had recovered hundreds of thousands of pounds of Apple computers stolen by a gang of thieves from  aymarket magazines’ offices in Teddington, after receiving a tip-off about the raid.


The Independent on Sunday had recruited Simon Kelner to launch a new sports section. Kelner, now Independent editor, had been sports editor of The Observer and deputy sports editor of The Independent.


Price cutting by The Times had paid off, with insiders claiming the newspaper’s sales had overtaken those of The Guardian. The new 15p Times was said to be averaging 470,000 sales a day, compared with The Guardian’s 425,000. Times editor Peter Stothard praised News International’s decision to cut the cover price. “It really shows that my suspicions and this company’s preparedness to be bold and back hunches is correct. This market is occupied by a large number of readers who are more sensitive to the price of the paper they buy than people thought.”


PM Prime Minister John Major referred to the price cutting by the nationals when he was tackled over the damage VAT would cause regional papers if it was imposed on the press. Birmingham Evening Mail editor Ian Dowell took the fight against VAT to No.10 at a reception for regional editors and challenged Major on the issue. Dowell said of Major: “There was a twinkle in the PM’s eye as he reminded me that some papers were cutting their prices.” Dowell sported the Newspaper Society’s “VAT free” logo on his company security pass and drew it to Major’s attention.


The front page of Press Gazette celebrated two victories in the battle to protect journalists’ sources. The European Commission of Human Rights had ruled that reporter Bill Goodwin’s case against the UK Government was admissible. Goodwin had been fined £5,000 for contempt of court for refusing to reveal a source while working for The Engineer magazine. Computer Weekly editor John Lamb had resisted demands from Cabinet officials to reveal his sources on a story critical of the Government’s plans to privatise its computer department.


BBC foreign editor John Simpson was defending the media over its coverage of the war in the former Yugoslavia. Giving the Huw Wheldon memorial lecture, he countered criticism from Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd. Simpson, who is now BBC world affairs editor, said: “What I suspect Mr Hurd especially dislikes is the way television alerts people so graphically to what is going on in a place like Sarajevo, because it makes his job of edging away from involvement in Bosnia so much more difficult.” He added: “It is an infallible sign that a government is getting rattled when it starts attacking the media.”


Liverpool Daily Post reporter Louise Elliott had smuggled out eight rolls of film from the Bosnian war zone. The rest of her film was confiscated by Croatian militia men. She was trapped for 12 hours near the frontline fighting but managed to bribe a taxi driver to break the curfew and make a 100-mile dash to Split airport. The pictures were used by the Post along with Elliott’s reports to show the plight of refugees trapped near the besieged town of Mostar.


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