Thursday, 26 January 2012

Tabloid Nation - HCJ - Semester 2 - Lecture/Seminar 1

This week’s reading was parts 2 and 3 of Chris Horrie's Tabloid Nation, which is primarily about the development of the Daily Mirror newspaper, whilst Cecil Harmsworth King (Rothermere's nephew) was one of the directors at the paper, until his demise some years later.

It begins with Harry Guy Bartholomew taking over from Rothermere in 1934, with 'Bart' wanting to make the paper more appealing by Americanising it to include sensational stories, nude pictures and more like the the New York Daily News or the Daily Graphic.

King was the only person on the board who agreed with Bart's views on Americanising the paper, and because of the family ties to Rothermere, he was a good person to have on side. So the paper began to change the way it worked, making it appeal to a younger and wider audience. In order to help him do this, Bart hired Basil D Nicholson, as features editor. He originally went to sell Nicholson some advertising space but Nicholson began to grill him asking why his papers did not include cartoon strips like the American papers did. Bart subsequently hired him on the spot, but Nicholson’s time at the paper did not last long. Bart liked the idea of sensationalism, and he also did not want to aim at anyone over the age of 30, but when it was discovered that Nicholson did not feature a story about an old woman who had committed suicide because she had lost her best hat for church, Bart was infuriated - the next day advertising for his replacement.

Hugh Cudlipp:

Cudlipp came in as Nicholson's deputy, but was soon given his post as features editor. Cudlipp had lived in Blackpool, which is key due to the way in which the seaside resort was portrayed. It was Britain’s answer to a freak-show, it had fun, sex and was hugely Americanised. With Cudlipp living around this, he had reflected his experiences into the way he wanted the Mirror to be seen. Cudlipp was doing very well, with stories such as 'can a woman incubate a chicken's egg' and the lynching of the man who made his son hold hot coals.

The pictorial was the Mirror's sister paper, but on a Sunday. It was in poor state, and was ailing behind the Mirror. Cecil King in the mean time was running this paper, and wanted it to be as good, if not better than the Mirror, so he asked Bart if he could take one of his team to become editor to try and turn the paper's fortunes around. Bart came across happy to help, but warned anyone who was asked to take the post that he would ruin their career if they chose King over him. The job offers kept on being turned down until Cudlipp was asked to take charge - and he accepted. This infuriated Bart, but Cudlipp did what he was asked, he turned the Pictorial's fortunes around. The Pictorial was even the first paper to have a picture of a topless woman in it.

World War 2:

'The price of petrol has been increased by one penny - official' This was the caption accompanied by a cartoon of a Navy soldier hanging on to some driftwood in the Sea - It was seen by the paper and government as pessimistic and anti-propaganda, even accusing the paper of being an undercover German paper, trying to defeat morale of the British public. The paper was in danger of being shut down. It got away with a warning though, as King protested that it was quite the opposite and was there to try and build morale.

During the war the Mirror became the 'soldier's paper' - It supported the idea that the army was full of 'Lions led by Donkeys' and that the people at the top were nothing more than the 'toffs' whereas the soldiers (the lower classes) were the real heroes. Philip Zec was the cartoonist who designed the campaigns to show that the Mirror was the peoples paper and one of the more famous cartoons was of a soldier emerging from the war, with a crown saying 'victory and peace in Europe' - captioned 'here you go, don't lose it again'.

This was huge in the battle for the working class vote, in the upcoming elections, especially with the Mirror being a Labour supporting paper; it was thought that Churchill (Conservative) would remain, as the women that were left at home only had a small amount of political knowledge, so they would vote for the only name they recognised, which was his. Instead the Mirror told the predominant women population (as the men were away at war) to vote for the people their husbands would vote for, Labour. Cast their vote for 'the men who won the victory for you' - This worked and at the same time showed the Mirror's popularity, as Labour won in a landslide victory.

Bart and Cudlipp relations:

Bart still held a grudge over Cudlipp since he went to the Pictorial - and he sought to get his revenge: during the paper's Christmas party Bart plied everyone with drinks, Cudlipp especially, whilst remaining reasonably sober himself. He then set about winding up Cudlipp and provoking him into a reaction making it just a formality for Bart to sack him. He asked why Cudlipp never ran a story about a riot in Nigeria, which had led to several deaths - and Bart continued to goad Cudlipp until he erupted. This though was the beginning of the end for Bart, as King went about his business to out him, at the same time gaining the support of the other board members, which Bart thought would never betray him: Bolam (editor), Zec (graphich artist) and King himself. Bart was sacked, sparking the return to the paper of Cudlipp.

Stockpiling - key term - Papers hired good journalists even if they did not need them just so rivals could not have them instead. Something Cudlipp was subject to at the Express.

1952 - Cudlipp went back to the Mirror, and had gained some important information about their closest rivals the Express. He believed that the Express sold advertising space to the man with a car and a garage, whereas the Mirror directed theirs to the man who built the car and the garage. Cudlipp had taken the place of Bart who had been fired from the paper, and went about getting some fresh faces in. The broken man of Bolam, who had been in prison was soon to be replaced by Jack Nener as editor - and this fitted in with Cudlipp's idea to re-model the Mirror to be a younger version of the Express. Cudlipp sometimes over-ruled Nener, and in my opinion kept him on a tight leash, constantly taking over on the editorial floor when it came to the big stores such as an international crisis or political stories.

Shock Issues - these were Cudlipps own invention and were stories that were stories that would dominate that day's edition of the paper. (For example the suffering of horses shipped from Britain to butchers in France and Belgium).

Alcohol in journalism:

Something that made me laugh in the book was the way in which every single journalist drunk alcohol at a staggering rate. The way Nener was hired was finding out if he could handle his drink, with the interviewers forcing copious amounts of alcohol down his throat to see if he could cope. The way in which every paper had its own pub was also interesting, it reminded me of football hooliganism, in that if you were part of the other team's supporters you wasn't allowed in the other teams pub.

Expenses at the Mirror:

When Mike Randall was hired as the new Features Editor at the Mirror it also became apparent that the system of expenses was being abused. A lot of journalists lived on their expenses and plugged away their wages. This was a reflection on how well the paper was doing though, in that it was never questioned. Randall in his first week felt so guilty about putting in a claim for £12 (double his record at his previous post) - but when he was pulled up on it, he was told to double it or else he would be letting the team down. David English was a famous journalist who did not get away with it though - after a story he had covered about a shipwreck, he claimed for the cost of hiring a lifeboat, and only after the complaints from the lifeboat crew about the story did it emerge that English got the hire for free!

1956 and the ITV:

The introduction of the ITV brought in a rival to the Mirror for advertising. Their wartime readers were ageing; an they needed younger readers (the baby-boomers). This being said the paper's rival the Express was even older, and Beaverbrook (the owner) had died. This inevitably meant that the Mirror had no competition despite it's poor efforts at aiming at a younger audience, and in 1964 under the new editorial leadership of Lee Howard in 61 from Nener, it was selling around 5 million copies a day.

Cudlipp/King relations:

They worked generally well together, although they had their showdowns at times, one of the biggest ones coming whilst Cudlipp was away on holiday. King authorised the printing of a story that a peer and one of the Kray twins were having a gay affair, but did not print the name of the peer due to libel reasons. This being said King released the name at the dinner party, Lord Boothby, who it eventually got back to.

When Cudlipp came back to the mess he settled out of court for £40,000, a large sum then, and it was more of a statement to say 'DO NOT GET INVOLVED WITH MY PAPER AGAIN'.

The International Publishing Corporation (IPC)

King bought his uncles Rothermeres old magazines the amalgamated press, consisting of consumer magazines. They were in a bad state so wanted to turn the fortunes around like he had done so many times before. In order to do this he bought the rival magazines too 'the Oldham Press' - King was developing a monopoly. He had over 200 consumer magazines in the UK, USA and France, and also had shares in ITV, owned paper mills, various publishing companies and a record company.

Enough is Enough

This was a campaign that King put his name to pushing for current Labour Prime-minister, Harold Wilson, to leave office. Britain was in an economic crisis and was making cuts, notably in the armed forces. King never really likes Wilson, stemming back from when he was trying to get into power; this because he had promised King that Britain would enter into Europe, which he later backed out from when he got to power. It was even accused of Wilson that he was a soviet spy that had poisoned previous Labour leader, Gaitskell, as he was part of the KGB, and at the same time he was trying to weaken Britain from the inside. Three weeks later the board members of the IPC chose to dismiss King, the eventual end of his reign at the Mirror.