A nose for news

AS another ex-staff member of the Worthing Herald, let me congratulate you on your report last week on the phone hacking scandal. It made fascinating reading.

It is rarely possible to localise a national story, but your interviews with former staff members managed this as well as providing personal accounts from innocent victims caught up in the affray.

Yet it was your interview with the always down-to-earth former News of the World editor, Derek Jameson, that primarily caught my eye. At the time, he was in charge of the NoTW, I was editing a group of East London newspapers that included the Hackney Gazette, inevitably known to all Cockneys as “The ‘Ackney”.

On occasions, when he felt one of his journalists was in danger of ruining a good story by over-writing it, he would instruct them to “write it like they would on The ‘Ackney”.

In those pre-gentrification days, the area contained some of the toughest neighbourhoods in the whole of London and there was never any shortage of hard news. Nor did it need embellishing to make it readable.

In a telephone conversation, he and I agreed that creative writing was not required if the story “stood up on its feet”. Perhaps this is a lesson that some of the latter-day NoTW culprits need to learn.

David Messer

Eirene Road