Back Issues 16.12.04

Jon Slattery trawls the archives to look at what was making Press Gazette headlines in 12.74


Home Secretary Roy Jenkins had rejected the idea of legislating to ban newspapers from paying convicted criminals for their autobiographies. In a Commons’ reply he said: “This is a matter on which the Press Council already has a declared policy. And for the moment it seems better to see whether this policy can be made effective.” Under the current Editors’ Code of Practice, newspapers are not allowed to pay criminals for stories, pictures or information – unless it can be shown it is in the public interest.


NUJ members working on regional newspapers in England and Wales, whose wages were negotiated with the Newspaper Society, had voted by more than 70 per cent against strike action in support of a better pay deal. The vote meant the union accepted the NS pay offer – worth an extra £7 a week to seniors.


An Indian newspaper group which had upset the Punjab Government had the electricity supply to its presses cut off. But the Hind Samachar and Punjab Kesari , with a combined circulation of 100,000, got published with the help of a farm tractor. The company employed the tractor for ten days and used it to run a web offset machine by connecting their pulleys with a belt to the tractor. Power supply was restored after the newspaper group won a High Court battle.


Attorney General Sam Silkin said ITV’s Weekend World would not be prosecuted for interviewing Provisional IRA chief of staff David O’Connell. Ulster Unionist MP Enoch Powell had asked Silkin to refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions because of its “threatening language”.


A striking illustration of John Gordon, the legendary editor of the Sunday Express, dominated the front page of Press Gazette . Gordon, who had died aged 84, edited the Sunday Express for 25 years before being made editor-in-chief. The illustration was by the famous Express cartoonist Giles and pictured Gordon receiving an honorary degree from the University of New Brunswick. Under Gordon, sales of the paper topped 4 million. His reign as editor was surpassed in length by another legend, Sir John Junor. He edited the Sunday Express from 1954 to 1986 – a Fleet Street record.


In the US, the National Enquirer had a new rival, the National News Extra , which was trying to grab readers’ attention with startling headlines. They included: “Evil Commies Unleashing Rabid Dogs, “Deadly Bees to Attack Free World,” “Lonely Widow Tries to Marry her Dog,” and “Mom Makes Stew Out of Her Baby So Her Other Six Kids Won’t Starve.”


An angry Press Gazette reader had cancelled the magazine and written in to say why. CJ Goodall, ex-father of the NUJ chapel at the Islington Gazette , wrote: “In the past few months it has become clear to me that the UK Press Gazette is a
propaganda sheet for blacklegs, management stooges and IoJ amateurs. For this reason I have instructed the news agent to cancel my order.”

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