Enquiring Mind

Photo: Eliot Shepard

Paul field broke his first big story as a 16-year-old in Ipswich, England. (The post office was moving out of town to a shopping center!) He probably didn’t have to pay any of his sources for that scoop, but it set him on a path of Princess Di–related exposés and ultimately the offer to edit the foundering National Enquirer. Carl Swanson spoke to him at the tab’s new Manhattan offices (where it just moved from Florida), which he’s staffing up with British hacks for a relaunch on April 7.

A lot of people have written off the Enquirer as a victim of the celebrity-gossip media complex it helped spawn. Is there still a place for it?
The new Enquirer will still be doing a lot of celebrity gossip, but it will also carry a lot more national crime stories. It has a fantastic tradition of introducing new evidence, new witnesses, new developments: Scott Peterson or O.J. or the BTK killer. It will also carry a dedicated women’s-features section.

Paying sources is also an Enquirer tradition. Will you continue it?
The more people who want to come forth with stories, the better. I’ll just get the checkbook out.

You’ll be sharing stories with the Star, but they don’t pay sources.
The Star will be very clear: “No, we cannot give money.”

Do you ever think, Maybe I should go back to more respectable journalism?
Tabloids are respectable. I mean, in the U.K., they’re taken just as seriously as the broadsheets. The Sun breaks more big stories than the [London] Times or the Independent.

You’ve hired a bunch of British journalists. Are they better at this than Americans?
In the U.K., everybody reads the newspaper every day. Most people read two or three. The competition just makes journalists very aggressive. But for every Brit there will be an American.

Do you get frustrated with U.S. papers?
A lot of British journalists come here and think, Why doesn’t the New York Post get it? Why is the news full of drunk drivers in Queens? My view, now that I’ve lived here, is that those journalists don’t get it. ’Cause if you live in New York, you want a local paper. British journalists don’t understand that there isn’t the same national newspaper.

So, that’s your niche to fill?
The Enquirer needs to brand itself as America’s national newspaper. And it will still be a very feared publication among celebrities.

Enquiring Mind