Sally Waterman was secretary at the Weatherfield Recorder when Ken Barlow bought into a partnership with Bob Statham in November 1983. Ken became Statham's press baron and editor of the free sheet, taking over from Pamela Mitchell, and Sally worked alongside him in the Recorder office. Sally's first clash with her new boss came when Ken tried to use the paper in his vendetta against Mike Baldwin by not letting him advertise his Graffiti Club. Statham forced Ken's hand and told him to write a piece about the club. When Ken wrote a deliberately underwhelming article, Sally alerted Statham who forced him to rewrite it, speaking about Mike in glowing terms.
Sally had never written for the paper but Ken saw potential in her as a reporter and in January 1984 got her to interview Stan and Hilda Ogden when they made a compensation claim against the council when Stan stubbed his toe on a loose paving stone. Sally took to it right away and started investigating stories she thought would interest the public. In June, she wrote a piece about Curly Watts spotting a UFO on his telescope, but her article didn't go down well with Curly as he thought he'd been portrayed as a loony. However, local radio and a national newspaper took an interest in the story and to make it up to Curly Sally agreed to print his word-for-word account of what really happened.
The following month, Sally found out that Councillor Alf Roberts had stopped plans for a shopping plaza being built and wrote an article accusing him of being biased because the plaza would hurt trade at his shop. Ken recognised it as a good piece of journalism but refused to print it in full as Alf could sue. Sally thought the real reason was that Ken didn't want to upset Alf and, believing that people had a right to know the truth, sold the story to the Gazette. Ken warned Sally that if she went behind his back again he'd fire her.
In September, Sally started going out with Billy Walker. Ken was against it and admitted the reason was that he had feelings for Sally. Sally reciprocated his feelings and they kissed but Ken forced himself to stay faithful to Deirdre. Sally decided to dump Billy as he was too serious about her, but once jilted a jealous Billy tried to cause trouble by hinting to Deirdre that there was more to Ken and Sally's relationship than she knew about. Deirdre confronted Sally and asked if they were having an affair. Sally told Deirdre the truth, and accused her of wanting Ken to stray. Ken convinced Deirdre he'd been faithful but despite Deirdre's feelings about Sally, and Sally's offer to resign to make things easier for him, Ken kept Sally on, feeling they were mature enough to ignore their feelings.
In February 1985, Sally applied for a job as trainee reporter at the Gazette. Her last job for Ken was interviewing Mavis Riley about winning a second honeymoon from Modern Bride magazine. Mavis admitted she'd never had a first honeymoon and to avoid embarrassing her Sally promised not to run the story in the Recorder, but she did give the story to the Gazette, upsetting Mavis all the same. Sally's excuse that she kept her promise didn't hold water with Ken, who told her to leave the Recorder immediately as she'd already handed in her notice after getting the Gazette job. Sally was unapologetic, telling Ken that hurting people was unavoidable in real journalism.
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