Friday, 18 January 2008

"Bastards" debate

Updated and corrected
Another city has been added to the great debate over the use of "Bastards" in a front page newspaper headline to reflect an abhorrent act?

A TSF reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, says in an e-mail he is confident a New York City headline predates the Toronto Sun's 9/11 headline in 2001 and the Sun in London, England, following two IRA bombings in 1982.

The reader who sent this week's e-mail says "Bastards" was used by a New York City tab in 1981 (or earlier) following a Red Brigades kidnapping and murder in Italy.

"Bastards was originally the headline in either the New York Post or the Daily News," says the reader. "I believe it was the Post.

"I recall it vividly in that pre-Internet age because the black and white photo show (the) lifeless body hanging from behind, with the searing (and seemingly profane) headline. It made the network newscasts, too, and this was before CNN."

The reader also remembers seeing the same front page headline in Quebecor's short-lived Daily News in Montreal in 1989, with a photo of mass murderer Marc Lepine.

"So while I thought the 9/11 Sun head (voted the favourite Toronto Sun front in a TSF poll) was good, it wasn't original."

The continuing front page "Bastards" headline saga began after TSF readers voted the Toronto Sun's 9/11 "Bastards" headline in 2001 as the favourite Sun front.

Len Fortune, the Sun's former graphics maestro, e-mailed TSF to say the headline was used by the Sun previously during Desert Storm in 1991.

Former Sun staffer Al Cairns followed up in a recent e-mail, saying "Bastards" was used in 1982 by the Sun in London following two IRA bombings.

Les Pyette, former Sun CEO who was at the helm for the 9/11 issue, responded to Al's e-mail.

Are there any current or former New Yorkers in TSFland who can pinpoint the Red Brigades headline newspaper and the year?

1 comment:

  1. Len Fortune did not work on the 9/11 news front. I believe Len spearheaded a Quebecor special magazine on 9/11 a few days later, but the front page editor of the wraparound front for the bulldog edition that afternoon was Darren 'Woody' McGee with Les Pyette riding on his shoulder. The Bastards headline was offered up by Les who got his inspiration, I believe, from the Sun front page of the beaten British airman downed in the Gulf War which was hanging in Peter Brewster's office at the time. Whether Brewster suggested the Bastards line to Les or someone else threw the idea out there, I can't say for sure. The newsroom was, as you can imagine, absolute mayhem for the 4 hours it took to put out the afternoon bulldog, right through to the final replate at 2 a.m..