The Untold Story: My 20 Years Running the National Enquirer by Iain Calder isn't something I would normally read, but I'm writing a rom-com where the heroine goes to work for a tabloid, so this is research. (One of my favorite things about being a writer is that I get to research so many things.) I've actually read this once already, but I'm about to start rewrites, so I'm reading it again. I did learn all sorts of things about the Enquirer that I didn't know that gave me more respect for them (something they were seriously lacking before I read this.)
The flashing bulbs of the paparazzi. The iconic names: Liz, Michael
Jackson, Jackie O, Jen and Brad. Americans are obsessed with the famous
and the beautiful, their lives, loves, break-ups, and breakdowns. From
Entertainment Tonight to People, from primetime to the E! channel, our
appetite for celebrity news is seemingly insatiable. But in the
beginning only the National Enquirer went boldly where other
publications feared to tread.
In this no-holds-barred account of the
most infamous tabloid in America, Iain Calder, its former
editor-in-chief, tells all. Over the course of a career that spanned
four decades, Calder brought the lurid newspaper to new heights,
dramatically raising circulation by combining his streetwise journalist
background with the genius of Enquirer publisher Generoso Pope, Jr.
was born in a small village in Scotland, left school at sixteen, and
rose through the ranks of the Glasgow newspapers. His intense work ethic,
ruthless tricks to throw competitors off his scent, and nose for a
story served him well, and he was tapped to head the Enquirer's London
bureau. At that point, the lowly Enquirer was a collection of gory
photos of car crashes and murder victims, but Calder corralled the best
freelance journalists in Europe and started honing the formula that
would transform the tabloid: a unique mix of celebrity scandal,
hard-nosed reporting, and feel-good stories. Pope moved him to the
American offices of the Enquirer, and the duo transformed the tabloid
and, in the process, American journalism.
Calder exposes the
stories behind the headlines and the wickedly intrepid Enquirer tactics
for getting the scoops. With Calder at the helm, the National Enquirer
ran the infamous shot of Gary Hart and Donna Rice and the
record-breaking photo of Elvis in his coffin. And it was the New York
Times that dubbed the Enquirer "the Bible" of the O.J. Simpson trial
after reporters infiltrated O.J.'s inner circle. From the contents of
Henry Kissinger's trash and the identity of John Belushi's drug dealer
to Princess Grace's tragic death, the Enquirer told us what inquiring
minds wanted to know as it took celebrity news from the back pages to
the front pages and television screens of mainstream publications and
Calder re-creates the exhilaration of being at the
Enquirer during its most extraordinary period and details the way he and
his staff broke the biggest exclusives of the day. At its core, The
Untold Story is also a love letter from Calder to the glorious tabloid
he helped create.
It was 1964, and life was good.
I was twenty-four years old, with almost nine years of journalism under my belt. I'd covered every kind of story from airline crashes and coal-mind disasters to murders and national elections, and now I was a member of the Glasgow Daily Record's Heavy Mob, the reporters sent out on the front lines of the cutthroat Scottish tabloid wars. I was well paid, with work that was exciting and fulfilling. I was engaged to a special woman, Jane Bell, a a hair stylist, who seemed ready to put up with me and the demands of my career.
We were way ahead of our time covering BDG. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally approved BCG as a cancer-fighter for bladder malignancy, and the "new" treatment got wide press coverage in May 1990--eighteen years after we first reported on it.
a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can
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