19 NOVEMBER 1954, Page 22

Letters to the Editor

FLEET STREET SIR, Mr. John Beavan has presented your readers with a very accurate picture of Fleet Street in 1954. He makes only one point that I would challenge. His last sentence reads: Young men can only learn the old tricks, and the Boy Wonders of the

Thirties who invented them can enjoy a comfortable middle age immune from the challenge of infant prodigies.

Mr. Beavan ignores a basic Jaw of the Fleet Street jungle—the survival of the slickest. To hold down his job the Boy Wonder of the Thirties who has attained to the style and dignity of a Greater Shirt- Sleevid Editor, must keep a wary eye on the gaggle of up-and-coming Boy Wonders he has gathered about him. Let him nod for a night or two, and he will go down for the count

I had close-ups in the Thirties of more than one Boy Wonder who attained a certain

modest fame as a Lesser Shirt-Sleeved Editor,

before discovering that slavish reproduction of other people's ideas is not the royal road

to success. There was one Leper Shirt- Sleeved Editor to whom, during a policy dis- agreement, I ventured to cite my experience

under ' Nattily-Jacketed Editors' like Pulver- macher, Cranfield, Garvin and Arthur Watson. His lip curled contemptuously as he put me in my place. I'm not a Watson or a Garvin,' he retorted. How right he was Six months later he was not merely out of Fleet Street; he had forsaken journalism.

Mr. Bcavan may be right when he doubts the ability of Fleet Street to discover new techniques. For myself, I feel that the age-

old technique of ' Boy Meets Girl, Kisses' still offers the possibility of endless variations to the bright young mind. Actually, the Boy Wonders of the Thirties produced very little that was really new. Long before a pro-

cession, of Lesser Shirt-Sleeved Editors began turning the old Daily Sketch upside down and inside out in their efforts to make it look like something down the Street,' that pioneer of popular illustrated journalism had done wont of the things that are acclaimed today. It produced Fleet street's first comic strips and pocket cartoons at a time when the Mirror was still wearing its Edwardian garb and running behind the Sketch like a street urchin behind an Edwardian bread cart. And it served up the news of the day, factually, yet with a degree of genuine brightness that Is sadly lacking today. ' Roosevelt Set Fair:

Further Outlook—Wet' was its streamer com- ment on the progress of the American presi- dential election that saw the end of prohibition.

It goes without saying that the nattily- jacketed young men who produced the Sketch in those days acquired a sound working knowledge of the requirements of the woman reader. There was the pocket cartoon they all thought appalling. They persuaded the Editor to ' kill' it. Within a fortnight an avalanche of protests from readers had forced him to restore it !—Yours faithfully, GILBERT YEATS Cio Yorkshire Observer, Hall ings,