Back Issues 27.11.03


The Longridge News felt obliged to inform its readers that reporters on the paper were not getting paid overtime while covering  meetings in the evening. “If a reporter is covering a meeting at night, nothing rankles him more than being told at 10.30pm, after three or four hours of note taking: ‘Well you are getting paid for this.’ People don’t seem to realise that the reporter has been working all day. Then when the meeting is over he often has to type up his story, meaning that it can be 2am before he finally falls into bed,” the News exclaimed. It was responding to a remark by a local councillor who, on debating a proposal to hold meetings earlier to help reporters, claimed: “The press is getting paid for the job.”


A Daily Mirror leader column headed “Democracy Vomits” about Richard Nixon, who was embroiled in the Watergate scandal, caused a stir in the US. Copies of the Mirror had sold out on the New York news-stands that stocked British papers. Press Gazette’s US orrespondent, Jeffrey Blyth, reported: “It was stronger language than any US paper had used about Nixon. My own office had lots of calls from Americans asking if they could photostat my solitary copy.”


The Washington Posts’s Bob Woodward who, with Carl Bernstein, broke the Watergate story, took the Washington press corps, the US equivalent of the lobby, to task in a Yale lecture. He described them as “no more than sophisticated stenographers who have an obscene affection for the official version of events”. He added: “Watergate has demonstrated that they were being lied to,” and claimed they thought they were being great investigative journalists by asking Nixon: “Don’t you think you should resign?.”


Regional journalists had been called out on strike by the NUJ in a 24-hour stoppage over national pay negotiations, which affected papers that were members of the Newspaper Society. In those days there was a national pay agreementbetween the NS and the union. The front page ofPress Gazette showed a picture of Sheffield Morning Telegraph editor Michael Hides and Colin Brannigan, editor of its sister-evening, The Star, working on an abandoned subs’ desk. No other journalist was involved in the production of the two papers following the staff walkout.


Newspapers were running attacks on the film censor as an excuse to publish nudes, it was claimed at a forum on censorship, organised by The News, Portsmouth. John Trevelyan, the former secretary to the British Board of Film Censors, claimed: “How much business does Rupert Murdoch do? He puts nudes and salacity in his newspapers. These are the things the silent majority buy. It is a
well-known technique. You put this stuff out and say, ‘Isn’t this terrible?’ An attack on the censor in some newspapers is an excuse to publish four pictures of nudes.”


Before he found national fame as a presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Brian Redhead was pictured in Press Gazette signing a freelance agreement as editor of the Manchester Evening News. The terms, judged to be better than Newspaper Society rates, included £15 for a page-one lead, £5 for an inside-page lead and retainers of up to £30 a month.

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