Sex will always sell says tabloid journalist Bill Coles

A former royal reporter at The Sun has told students they could bring in exclusives and make their mark on the back of paid journalists who are often “too lazy” to follow up their own stories.

Bill Coles was talking to students at Leeds Trinity University for the annual Journalism Week event.

He said: “Getting exclusive stories is incredible tricky. But you have to start bringing in exclusive stories to really shine.”

Former royal reporter on The Sun, Bill Coles

Former royal reporter on The Sun, Bill Coles

He advised that the best way to find exclusives was to sniff through the last week’s news stories.

“There’s always a woman who’s had 19 babies. So all you have to do is ring her up and find out if she’s pregnant again. Number 21? Excellent! Or you might get lucky and she might say she’s going to call time on having babies. Most stories are old stories with just a new bit on the top.

“Anniversaries. We love to hear about them. Where are they now? Tragedies ten years on things like that,” he said.

Former tabloid journalist and author Bill Coles

Former tabloid journalist and author Bill Coles

Bill also offered students advice on interviewing and claimed that ‘charm’ is not something that can be learnt: “Most hacks make this basic error. You have to connect first. Only when you connect can you ravage on with your questions about the murder.”

And he emphasised the importance of having confidence: “I can’t teach you self-confidence. All you can do is get more confidence by practising speaking to people.
“The key to interviewing technique and job promotion, the key to transforming your social skills and improving your whole life is to chat to people.

“Make it your goal to chat to strangers – get lustrous social antennae. Engage with strangers no matter where you are. If you commit to doing this, you will get more self confidence.”

Bill also gave out several sharks’ teeth to students and said mysteriously: “More on that later…”

Bill Coles gives out sharks' teeth to students

Bill Coles gives out sharks’ teeth to students

He later explained that his talks used to end with a boring question like “Do you have a dog?” so he wanted to create a more exciting end: “I was very struck by the thought that over a million years ago sharks were swimming over the Sahara. Now these stone teeth are all that is left of them. If you have a good run you might have 50 years but it will be gone in a flash. You’re a long time dead. You yourself have to give your life meaning.”

Bill , 49, was responsible for the breaking the Monica Lewinsky scandal during Bill Clinton’s tenure.

At the time he was working for The Sun. He said: “It was made for The Sun- most powerful guy in the world, very beautiful woman half his age. You’ve got sex- extraordinary sex.”

In his 25 years as a journalist Bill has worked for a variety of newspapers including The Sun, The Mail and The Wall Street Journal.

For the past five years Bill has worked as tabloid consultant on the South African newspaper group Media 24 but he still lives here in the UK.

He said: “I go out there and explain the principals of tabloid journalism because during the apartheid era there were really no tabloids in South Africa. So tabloids have now developed for all the people of colour and black people and the whites in South Africa but they are still sort of learning the principals of tabloid journalism.”

Bill has also written a number of novels and a non-fiction book, Red Top.




  1. […] the debate panel had put forward their arguments, former Sun journalist Bill Coles admitted the newspaper was embarrassed to continue having to publish the newspaper with topless […]

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