Peter Clancy has always harboured the ambition of playing with the big press boys on London’s Fleet Street. Why not let him. He has done his time in Melbourne.
Then I started researching the English press, with particular emphasis on the tabloid press.
You know, those muck-racking papers with headlines like, The Member of Parliament Who Wanted To Be Spanked. The wolf-pack papers that hounded poor Princess Diana like a wounded deer. Gutter press as it is commonly known.
Entre Peter Clancy into this den of evil. Am I going to totally alienate the readers out there by making him a London tabloid journo?
I tell you, their methods of getting the story leaves much to the imagination.
Of course, there’s the bribery of top officials such as police commissioners, employing private investigators who specialise in the dark arts such as phone tapping.
There’s the badgering at the door step, of bereaved relatives for a story on their recently deceased loved one. They will even harass for a photo of the deceased for heaven’s sake.
Yes, they pay for tip-bites; they pay for major information from an expansive expense account. The tabloid journalists will even dress in disguise to be a footman at the palace or a cleaner at an opposition paper etc.
It all sounds vile. There does not appear to be any heroes among these people. Though there are moments of humour in all this depravity.
I like the story about the journo speeding down the road to a possible front page scoop when he notices that he is being hotly pursued by an opposition paper. He tries to speed away but to no avail. He pulls over and they stop also. He gets out and leans into the driver’s window.
“Give me a break. This is my story,” He pleads.
“No way,” the opposition journo replies. The desperate journo quickly reaches in, grabs the car keys out of the ignition and throws them away. He then continues calmly onto his big scoop by himself.
The only way to make the character likeable in such an environment is to enter him into it, allow him to try to become part of it but there will be a Road to Damascus moment at some point. The character will then try to expose that environment’s short comings and corruption.
Throw in a few life threatening situations and the reader will mark him as a genuine hero. The world loves heroes.