Calder, Iain 1939–
CALDER, Iain 1939–
PERSONAL: Born February 27, 1939, in Scotland; immigrated to United States, 1967; naturalized citizen; married Jane Brownlea Bell, April 17, 1965; children: Douglas William, Glen Robert Bell.
ADDRESSES: Home—Boca Raton, FL. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Hyperion Editorial Department, 77 West 66th St., 11th Floor, New York, NY 10023.
CAREER: Falkirk Sentinel, Falkirk, Scotland, reporter, 1955–56; Stirling Journal, Stirling, Scotland, reporter, 1956; Falkirk Mail, Falkirk, reporter, 1956–60; Glasgow Daily Record, Glasgow, Scotland, reporter, 1960–64; National Enquirer, Lantana, FL, London bureau chief, 1964–67, articles editor, 1967–73, executive editor, 1973–75, editor, 1975–91, editor-in-chief, 1991–95, editor emeritus, 1995–97, consultant, 1997–. American Media, Inc., executive vice president of publications, 1994–97. Member of board of directors, Bethesda Hospital Foundation, 1997–.
AWARDS, HONORS: Named among 500 most influential journalists in American history by Newseum (Arlington, VA).
The Untold Story: My Twenty Years Running the National Enquirer, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Iain Calder spent two decades as the top editor of the National Enquirer, America's best-known supermarket tabloid. As Calder recalls in his memoir, The Untold Story: My Twenty Years Running the National Enquirer, he and the paper's owner, Generoso Pope, saw an unfulfilled niche in American journalism in the early 1960s and quickly moved in to fill it with a weekly newspaper full of celebrity gossip; medical breakthroughs; advice—both paranormal and practical—on such issues as marriage, child-rearing, finding a mate, and dieting; and inspiring stories of personal courage and survival. In the Columbia Journalism Review, Neal Gabler wrote: "In his single-minded devotion to celebrity flotsam and jetsam, Calder seemed to be at one with his readership and onto something, too. Enquiring minds did want to know, as the old TV ads said. They wanted to be the first to know. They had a vested interest in knowing, even if what they knew really wasn't worth knowing and even if it wasn't true. In a culture where there was so much to know, knowing what others might not know was itself a form of empowerment." "Calder knew he was selling his readers resentment and hope," Gabler added. "He was also selling them the paper's own merry tawdriness."
In The Untold Story, Calder describes his own self-educated climb through the journalistic ranks in his native Scotland, his early years as a freelance reporter for the National Enquirer, and his long and productive working relationship with Pope. He also addresses the charges that the tabloid fabricated stories, categorically denying that its reporters manufactured untrue or half-true pieces, and pointing to the newspaper's record with libel lawsuits in comparison with other national and mainstream newspapers. In an interview with NewsMax.com, Calder said: "We tried harder—at least as hard as any newspaper—to get absolutely true stories. Our readers knew this even when celebrities would say that's not true and we're going to sue you, and six months later it would turn out that we were correct." In his book Calder details the creative techniques National Enquirer reporters and photographers used to obtain exclusive information, including the ground-breaking use of large teams of editors and reporters to gain blanket coverage of major stories, from the death of Elvis Presley to the O. J. Simpson murder trial. He also notes that the tabloid's publication of a cover photograph of then-Senator Gary Hart with a young woman on his lap probably changed the course of history when it wrecked Hart's bid for the U.S. presidency.
Reviewers of The Untold Story commended it for its breezy style and for its insider's view not only of the National Enquirer itself, but also of the tabloid journalism business in general. "This tell-all makes for a fun read for loyal Enquirer readers or anyone interested in popular culture," commented Donna Marie Smith in Library Journal. A Publishers Weekly contributor found the book "a compulsive page-turner," and added that Calder's personal tale of working his way to the top "proves just as compelling as his superstar portrayals." A critic for Kirkus Reviews called the work a "zippy memoir" and concluded: "If the National Enquirer is where reporters go to die, it must be America's most exciting retirement community."
In an interview with Women's Wear Daily Calder reflected on his singular career. "I'm really quite proud that I was editor of the Enquirer," he said. "I've estimated that the number of publications I've sold with my name on it as editor was about 4.4 billion. I don't know if anybody else in the history of journalism could beat that record. Coming from a little mining village in Scotland, I'm quite proud of that."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Calder, Iain, The Untold Story: My Twenty Years Running the National Enquirer, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.
Booklist, May 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of The Untold Story: My Twenty Years Running the National Enquirer, p. 1581.
Columbia Journalism Review, July-August, 2004, Neal Gabler, "Ephemera: The Rise and Rise of Celebrity Journalism," p. 48.
Editor & Publisher, May 4, 1991, Garry Boulard, "Giving People What They Want to Read," p. 46.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2004, review of The Untold Story, p. 428.
Library Journal, June 15, 2004, Donna Marie Smith, review of The Untold Story, p. 79.
Publishers Weekly, May 31, 2004, Joel Hirschorn, "'Enquiring' Minds Will Want to Read This," p. 60; review of The Untold Story, p. 62.
Time, August 16, 2004, Andrea Sachs, "Tabloid Titan," p. G3.
Women's Wear Daily, July 2, 2004, Jeff Bercovici, "Talking the Enquirer Take on Celebrity," p. 11.
NewsMax, http://www.newsmax.com/ (August 19, 2004) Phil Brennan, "Editor: Bill O'Reilly Is TV's Enquirer."
Yale Journal of Ethics Online, http://www.yale.edu/yje/ (1996; May 5, 2005), Elana Zeide, "An Ethical Enquirer."