When Alan Rusbridger was a young journalist on the Cambridge Evening News, he fell in love with a university leturer. One night, after they moved in together, there was a knock on their door. A reporter and photographer from the Sunday Mirror wanted to tell the story of their romance to the four million people who bought the British tabloid each week. Why? The lecturer’s late father had, years earlier, been on television. Rusbridger imagined the headline: ‘Daughter of quite famous man has affair.’
The Sunday Mirror team didn’t react well to being politely turned away. ‘We can do this nice or we can do it nasty,’ said the reporter, who sat outside the house for twenty-four hours, occasionally leaning on the doorbell. A week later, he and the photographer returned and tried again. The story was never written, but for Rusbridger – whose career thus far had involved covering council meetings and flower shows – the experience was eye-opening. As he says in Breaking News: The remaking of journalism and why it matters now, he had learned ‘what it was like to have journalism done to you’.