Back Issues 30.01.03

Troubled times

Twenty years ago the pages of Press Gazette were peppered with stories of industrial troubles.

An industrial dispute between management and electricians at The Times over using new equipment ended but only after the newspaper had lost nine issues and £2m in revenue.

Meanwhile, machine managers at the Financial Times were threatening industrial action. The Guardian reported in a brief: “Production problems have impeded this edition of the paper. We apologise for any truncations or imperfections.”

BBC man pole axed

Kevin Ruane, the BBC’s man in Warsaw, was expelled after the Polish Government objected to an edition of Panorama.

Regional strike snub

The Newspaper Society had upped its provincial pay offer by 50p so that it was worth £4 to £6 a week, depending on seniority and type of newspaper. The NUJ leadership had recommended that its members on regional papers take strike action but this was rejected in a national ballot by 3,477 votes to 495.

Fellas spark flying fists

Fists and abuse were flying as local journalists met members of the Brent Women’s Centre at a public meeting in the town hall. The women were there to discuss the possibility of their own sub-committee and had told the local press to send only female reporters and photographers. When five male journalists turned up they were asked to leave. An argument broke out and Wembley Observer photographer Richard Sowersby was punched trying to take pictures.

Lamb legs it

Former Sun editor Sir Larry Lamb was leaving his post as editor-in-chief of Rupert Murdoch’s Australian after just three months. Press Gazette reported that Paul Dacre had been made the new news editor of the Daily Mail. He was previously deputy news editor.

Wakey wakey

The BBC launched Breakfast Time, Europe’s first early-morning breakfast TV service. It was presented by Frank Bough and Selina Scott. Other presenters included Nick Ross and David Icke while astrologer Russell Grant was a fixture on the programme. The editor was Ron Neil. The press gave the new show a harsh reception. Jean Rook of the Daily Express said: “As a journalist, I can’t afford to watch BBC’s Breakfast Time. Six weeks of going to work on an empty news bulletin and I’d be professionally dead.” Figures showed it attracted a daily audience of 8 million viewers.

Queer as folk

Jeffrey Blyth in New York reported that a row had blown up in the US over a book review in the New Republic. Critic Robert Sherrill described an author as a “thoughtful and witty writer who also happens to be a queer”. The magazine apologised to readers after letters of protest flooded in accusing Sherrill of “prejudice, name calling and rhetorical bullying”. The critic defended his refusal to use the word “gay”. “I grew up thinking the word meant happy. For a group to seize the word an apply it to themselves is somewhat grotesque,” he wrote.

Sun still soaring

The Sun was top of the newspaper circulation charts with sales of 4,179,079 for the six months to the end of 1982. The biggest faller was the Daily Star, down 14.5 per cent to 1,288,708. The Mail on Sunday had launched the previous May and had reported average sales of just over 1 million. The Sunday Express was selling 2.7 million and both The People and Sunday Mirror were averaging sales of more than 3 million.

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