Stick It Up Your Punter!: The Uncut Story Of The Sun Newspaper (Pocket books) Paperback – 4 Jan 1999
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The 1980s was the best of times and the worst of times for the British tabloid press. Locked in a vicious war for readers it was a time when the phrase "anything goes" never seemed so apt.
Privacy was invaded, stories made up and toes well and truly trodden on as Fleet Street's finest embarked on a period which, arguably, saw some of the best and worst reporting in the history of British journalism. And the paper that emerged from the contest with its head and shoulders way above the rest was the Sun.
In Stick It Up Your Punter!, ex-national newspapermen Peter Chippindale and Chris Horrie take a behind the scenes look at the operations of the Sun and it's lewd, crude and brilliant editor Kelvin McKenzie. In the main, it's a tale of high farce as Chippindale and Horrie explain the truth behind stories including the rescue of a death-bound donkey from Spain and the infamous "Gotcha!" and "Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster" headlines. This humour is tempered, however, by more serious stories including the libel actions of Elton John and Jeffrey Archer against the paper.
For anyone interested in the social history of Britain and the rise and fall of tabloid journalism this book is completely unsurpassed in it's depth and coverage. For those seeking light entertainment and Carry On style humour, there's plenty here to keep you amused. Stick It Up Your Punter is the finest book on British tabloid journalism ever written.
About the Author
Peter Chippindale was born in 1945. He began writing seriously as a front page investigative journalist on the Guardian. He then went on to make documentaries for London Weekend Television before leaving to concentrate on his writing. He is the author or co-author of more than a dozen non-fiction books, including the critically acclaimed trilogy on the media industry - Disaster!, Dished! and Stick It Up Your Punter! - the latter recently republished. Laptop of the Gods is Peter's second work of fiction following Mink. He has three young children and lives with his wife Susie near the sea in Cornwall.
Chris Horrie is the author of six successful books, including the bestselling STICK IT UP YOUR PUNTER! and LIVE TV. He is a former national newspaper and magazine journalist and editor, TV producer, lecturer and academic.
Top customer reviews
The authors bring us a no-holds barred inside account of the Sun newspaper and its move from the Printers' Union dominated Fleet Street to the new graphic-artist and computer driven headquarters of the Murdoch newspaper empire in Wapping.
Editors Larry Lamb and Kelvin MacKenzie each took different approaches but each was tasked with driving up circulation. And as the saying goes, nobody ever lost money by underestimating the taste of the British public.
This tabloid paper printed a lot of sleazy stories, defending itself by saying it was in the public's interest to know what their politicians and expense-paid royals were getting up to. They also ragged other celebrities in more questionable moves.
The language is often strong and some of the tragedies covered can still draw tears. Politics feature largely. As much as anything this is a look at a slice of British history as reported by, and sometimes influenced by, the newspaper.
A great read. Essential for anyone thinking of entering the field.
My only criticism of the book is that it totally ignores the Scottish Sun, which from 1987 onwards was engaged in a ferocious sales war with the Daily Record north of the border. The success of the Scottish edition surely merited a few paragraphs if not a chapter on its own. Maybe another author will eventually tell that story too.
The authors interviewed widely within current and ex-employees of "The Scum",noting in passing that current News International employees were committing a sackable offence by talking to them.Their accounts are funny,but their fear and loathing of Mackenzie comes through loud and clear,especially as the story moves from the mid to the late 1980s.
Murdoch is a shadowy figure in the background of most of this book,but he shines out in the latter chapters,where it is explained that "The Scum" was a cash cow being milked to pay for Murdoch's international TV empire.The stories of the Sky promo drivel "Scum" journalists had to try and palm off as real news is eye-opening.
Whether deliberately or unconciously,the Hillsborough catastrophe of April 1989 and it's aftermath,which,thanks to Mackenzie,led to the biggest financial disaster ever suffered by a British newspaper(still ongoing in 2007)is the climax of the book.Their description of Mackenzie musing over whether to splash with "YOU SCUM" or "THE TRUTH" a few days after the disaster is horrifying.The reactions of other journalists to the infamous headline-basically,disassociate yourself from it and keep as far away from Mackenzie as possible-is well depicted,as is the boycott of "The Scum" initiated by outraged scousers then,and still going strong in Liverpool as I write.
The hardest thing to do when you read SIUYJ is to suspend your natural skepticism and accept that the authors didn't make this up,it all really happened.Read it in wonder.
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