Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Daily Mail looking for subs and reporters

The Daily Mail is once again looking for trainee subs and reporters. The paper begins its search this week for bright wannabe journalists to join its highly successful training scheme, run by Press Association Training. The subbing course has been running since 2003 and the reporting course is in its fifth year. The Mail's newsroom is now staffed by many of those who completed the training including deputy sports editor Mark Alford, sports journalists Alex Kay and Laura Williamson, backbenchers Jayme Bryla and Chris Roberts and current Young Journalist of the Year, the Mail on Sunday's Matt Sandy.
If you are interested in applying send your CV, 200-words on why you want to be a Mail journalist and six pieces of your work to sue.ryan@dailymail.co.uk by February 10. You should specify your preference, if you have one, for the subbing or reporting course. They are separate schemes which will start next September. The reporting course will be held in London and the subbing course will be held mainly at the PA's Manor in Howden, East Yorkshire. For the first time there will be one combined week with subs and reporters getting together at Derry Street. It is likely that the successful applicants will have completed a post-graduate journalism course or have newsroom experience. Shorthand and a driving licence will be an advantage for the reporters. If you are applying it is worth reading my piece on what the Mail is looking for here. If you get invited for interview, I look forward to seeing you in February. Good luck. 

Saturday, 10 December 2011

It's all going pear-shaped ...

We have had the dog that injured its nose, the woman who couldn't find a tin of custard and one of my favourites ... the straight banana drama. Now I am grateful to Daily Telegraph sub and fellow Newcastle United supporter @laurieallsopp for alerting me to, wait for it, the man who stumbled on a rather large pear in Sutton from the Sutton Guardian. Don't you just love the use of the word 'rather'. 
BBC journalist @JonMWelch, who flagged up the story of the Diss Christmas tree falling over in the wind, asks if editors are publishing this type of story for 'ironic website hits'. It's certainly a possibility. The dog that injured its nose led to 130,000 people logging on to the story on the Salisbury Journal website in a single day. Indeed the editor wondered whether the tale broke the record for page impressions per word anywhere on the web. As I said at the time, in this upside down world where hits on the website and driving digital audiences are critical, there is perhaps method in the Journal's madness. It will be the bizarre, the offbeat, the mistakes, the funnies and the downright bad that will get the biggest followings. If nothing else such stories add much-needed humour to regional papers. They have also led to the publication of the book Whitstable Mum in Custard Shortage. One for the Christmas stocking ...    

Friday, 9 December 2011

Well done Newcastle ... officially the best

I raised a glass with colleagues at Press Association Training this week after the Newcastle journalism foundation course was named the best in Britain. The training centre, based in the Journal and Chronicle offices, was awarded the top spot ahead at the NCTJ's annual Skills Conference at Belfast City Hall. Trainee journalists on the PA course achieved an impressive and unprecedented 92pc exam pass rate. It's the third time in four years the course has clinched a top place, but the first time it has achieved the overall number one spot. None of this comes as any great surprise to me. The course has always been first rate, mainly because it sticks to the following tried and tested principles:
i) The centre is run as a newsroom with the same disciplines, dress code and long hours.
ii) All of the journalism training is carried out by professional, working journalists.
iii) The course concentrates on the basics - shorthand, writing, bringing in stories and law.
iv) The trainees are given detailed feedback on all of their work. 
v) As the centre is in a newspaper office the trainees get experience working for big city dailies.
Former trainees include the Andrew Marr, James Naughtie, Financial Times editor Lionel Barber and The Sun's political editor Tom Newton Dunn.
Ultimately, of course, training is only as good as the people who deliver it. So well done to Paul Jones, Pat Hagan, Garry Willey, David Banks, Sue Nixon, Shirley Kelly and, of course, head of PA Training Tony Johnston. Richly deserved. If you are want to know more, the course's details are here.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Big-bellied chimney frequenter coming to town

Here's a few elegant variations for Father Christmas from former trainee, now health correspondent at Archant Norfolk, Kim Briscoe. Last year Kim referred to Santa as 'the bearded icon' in her round-up of Christmas grottos. This year, with tongues in cheeks, Kim and her colleagues have so far offered:  
Big-bellied chimney frequenter
Reindeer-keeping present giver
Ubiquitous red-suited gentleman
and, somewhat unfairly, 
Burgeoning, white-bearded fraudster.
They are now suggesting a competition to find the best. I'm not sure I should be encouraging this sort of thing, but killing time on a crowded train from London tonight I mused over:
Hirsute ruby-suited philanthropist
Whiskery seasonal gift distributor
Jocular overweight elf supervisor
Rotund sleigh-riding altruist 
Giles Coren would be so proud. All of this nonsense was brought to my attention by Kim's husband, and David Powles, senior content editor at Norwich, who is on the Modern Editor's course I am running at PA in London this week. So while David was ploughing through strategic planning, cost analysis, budgeting, radical revenue streams, entrepreneurial journalism and the future of print, it's nice to know at least his missus was having fun back in the office.
If you have any more elegant variations for Santa, let's have them and I will forward them to the Norwich newsroom.

Friday, 25 November 2011

The power of a single image: 45 stunning photos

I have spent a couple of days this week talking about design with Middle East journalists from the newspaper Al Watan. We have been concentrating on the power of a single image or 'bull picture' on a page. This isn't something that their paper does often. Anyway, in discussion we stumbled across the National Geographic's Photo Competition. We looked at 45 stunning images in the People, Places and Nature categories. Take a look here. If anyone ever doubted the power of a single image, they couldn't fail be to be persuaded by these shots. If you want to enter (the closing date is next Wednesday) or just want to look at more amazing pictures, the details are here.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

From Fenton to Leveson - the week in clips

My advice to journalists to have "good taste and a dirty mind" so that they can keep innuendo and double-entendres out of the newspaper also, of course, applies to broadcasters. It's a lesson that might have benefited Jane Garvey and author Aileen Ribero admiring the work of chef Giorgio Locatelli on Radio 4's Woman Hour on Tuesday.
This is an edited version, courtesy of Tim Johns, and is made up of three separate clips, but you can catch the whole thing on iPlayer here.
There were a couple of other clips trending on Twitter this week, one which I found funny, the other less so. The rogue dog Fenton (some say Benton) chasing deer in Richmond Park was watched by 750,000 people on Youtube. It was filmed by 13-year-old Jake Goodyear (listen to his Mutley snigger at the end). People with far too much time of their hands have since created a raft of mash-ups. Here's the Jurassic Park version and there are many others too. If you have the time or inclination the Guardian's Media Monkey lists some of them here. Meanwhile the newspapers are still hunting for Fenton's owner.
One of the other big trending subjects of the weekly came, remarkably, out of the grim and sombre Leveson inquiry into phone hacking. Barrister Carine Patry Hoskins became known as the #womanontheleft for smiling at Hugh Grant's cricketing joke on this Sky News clip.  
She became an internet sensation, but for what reason exactly? I tend to agree with the New Statesman's Helen Lewis-Hastley on this one.
The most shocking thing that came my way via Twitter this week though was from India's Got Talent. Britain's Got Talent, boring. The X-Factor, a banal karaoke show. But this I would stay in for. The video is not for the faint-hearted.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Death on the front page: Right or wrong?

My comments on the pictures of Gaddafi's death on the front pages led to some differing views on the ethics and taste of splattering a bloodied corpse all over the news-stands.
I argued that the pictures were brutal but justified. If newspapers had photographs of the death of Hitler, would they have used them? Of course they would.
Simon Ricketts
One esteemed journalist who disagreed with me, and the position of his paper, was Guardian backbencher Simon Ricketts (@SimonNRicketts). He subbed the Gaddafi story that night but batted against the use of the picture. He tweeted: "I would have gone for a symbolic picture. Not a generic 'rebels celebrating' but an 'empty chair' type thing. Something smart."
My old Evening Despatch colleague John Lewis (@Johndlewis54) was even more incensed. He wrote: "Fleet Street showing that killing people is OK so long as you kill the right ones. SICK!"
My argument was that the pictures were irresistible, that they captured a crucial moment in history, that they told the story. Simon on the other hand felt a line had been crossed. This led us to other deaths that had been used explicitly on Page 1. Most memorable for me was the picture of the people crushed against the fences in the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. I was on The Northern Echo and we used it across Page 1 under the headline Never Forget. It was a shocking image and one I can't justify using here. The Daily Mail, though, still uses it on its website here. Be warned ... it is a disturbing picture.
The photograph arrived on the wire on the Sunday afternoon, 24 hours after the deaths. The people were dead or dying and that was clearly shocking. The story had been all over the Sundays but this photograph was new. We gave a print to each head of department and asked them for a view. They were split 50-50 as to whether we should use it. The parents among them, including the features editor who was an ex-Sun man, were against.
In the end the journalistic instincts to publish took over. For me the picture told the story and identified perfectly what the problem was. As a result football fans are not allowed to be caged in - and if anyone thinks they should be, just show them this picture. The headline, Never Forget, tried to justify its use.
There were 75 complaints (considerably fewer than when I moved the BMDs from Page 4).
Simon was shocked when I showed him the Hillsborough picture, which he had not seen before.
He said: "I would have been on the 'no' side of the camp but I cannot say I would not have run it if I was editor. I completely understand why you did."
It was certainly a tough call.
The Daily Sketch shows the moment Jack Ruby
shot John Kennedy's killer Lee Harvey Oswald
There are many other examples of dead bodies used in newspapers. Lee Harvey Oswald shot dead by Jack Ruby, the charred body of an Iraqi soldier on the road to Basra, Che Guevara's body displayed to prove he was dead, the Vietcong soldier being executed and others. They all feature in Harold Evans's Pictures on a Page where he argues the case for the power of the single photograph. Of the picture of the charred body on the road to Basra, which I also used in The Echo,
Evans wrote this: "The photograph shocked in the first instance for this very reason. It was a solitary individual in the transfixion of a hideous death. In the absence of a photograph of this power, it had been possible to enjoy the lethal felicity of designer bombs as some kind of video game."
The true horror of war: Kenneth Jarecke's
shocking road to Basra picture
And for me that was the point. We had lots of gung ho pictures of Tornado jets and brightly lit skies, but this was the true horror of what was going on. We had a duty to show that to our readers.
As Evans went on to say: "Anyone who saw that still photograph will never forget it."
Execution of a Vietcong prisoner by
 Eddie Adams, Associated Press 
Here's Simon's view:
"I think there are two parts to this. 1) The image of a dead or dying person 2) The front page.
"On the first issue, yes, there are images of dead or dying people used. "Sometimes because it captures the news in such an immediate way that nothing else will do. Other times it's symbolic of the wider issue. (I think the Vietcong picture is an example of that).
"Does it matter if it's a recognisable person? I think it does. The picture of an anonymous burnt Iraqi on the road to Basra captures the news, without the added horror of seeing a person's expression.
Che Guevara's body on display
"Another factor - if the person's well-known. Oswald comes into that category. So does Guevara. However, the Oswald picture is not horrific in its nature. The Guevara one came at a time when identification WAS important and mainstream news outlets were the only way to spread the news.
"2) The front page. We still live in a world where front pages are powerful. And when every single front page of the newspapers had a bloodied picture of Gaddafi, the news-stands looked more like a butcher's shop.
"My point was that we could tell people Gaddafi was dead on the front page - but they didn't have to SEE it. By all means have a smaller picture on the inside. "A picture of a dead Gaddafi has a strong message for all across Libya and the Middle East - and identification was a small issue. But not on the front.
"For me, a "smart" front page, with an empty chair, or a graphic of Gaddafi's face, or a poster of him riddled with bullet holes, would have told the story equally instantly, and the inside page could have a smaller picture of him dead.
"I was astounded that the Indy used a picture of him dead on the slab TWO days afterwards. That was baffling.
"I think - and I may just be getting old - that the rush of online pressure to publish/be first and the fact that media can be spread quicker and wider than ever before, leads people to sometime publish things because they CAN and not because they SHOULD.
"That's my tuppence - and I had to think hard about it."
So, were the papers right to use the Gaddafi pictures? I reckon they were, Simon, John Lewis and many others disagree. But, as I have said so many times before, when all journalists agree on what is right and wrong, when all front pages look the same, it will be time for me to pack it in and run a bar in the South of France. What do you think? All views, as always, are welcome.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A week in Beijing with China Daily journalists

I have been suffering withdrawal symptoms from Twitter as my wife, Pam, and I have been working in Beijing with the editors of the China Daily. Western social media sites are banned in China. There are ways around it ... but not on our hotel LAN line. Instead everyone uses the Chinese equivalent, Weibo, which has 140 million users. No good to me though and I soon discovered how Twitter-dependent I have become. It is certainly a relief to be back and able to get my daily fixes again. 
I was running an editorial management course on behalf of Press Association Training, looking at newsroom structures, leadership and performance management. It was a one of the most challenging things I have done but a fantastic experience. 
The mainly young journalists are really keen to learn, eager to expand the title into new areas and continually exploring creative ideas. The English language paper, circulating in China, Europe, America and selling a total of about 500,000, is looking to attract more international readers. With its smart-design and a more liberal outlook than most Chinese newspapers, it is an interesting read and increasingly Westernised. It is state-owned so has controls on its content and stance but the editors are working hard to report as objectively as they can. There is an interesting difference in outlook from the journalists though. Whereas we place the highest value on freedom of speech, they believe citizenship and responsibility are more important. Another key difference is, as a state-owned paper, China Daily has none of the commercial difficulties facing most Western newspapers. Don't be surprised if you receive a copy of the weekly European edition and an offer of subscription ... the paper is making inroads in the UK and is increasingly looking at content that will interest Western readers. With China now playing such a pivotal role in the West's economy, there's plenty of content for it to go at ... beyond the usual food, medicine, travel and feng shui. Anyway, here are ten things that I learned from Beijing.
i) Whatever culture we belong to, newsrooms are broadly the same. Passionate journalists working long hours and trying to juggle their time between management issues and journalism.
ii) China Daily recognises that not all good journalists make good managers and has introduced a structured career path that allows people to progress without having to take a desk job.
iii) There are opportunities for Western journalists who fancy a cultural change. Whereas most of the staff are Chinese there is a smattering of foreign editors helping with the language and copytasting.
iv) All pages are red-penned by the editors and put on the newsroom wall ... every day. Great feedback.
v) The paper does not sack anyone or make any staff redundant ... ever.
vi) Beijing, with 20 million people, is a sprawling metropolis with traffic jams, pollution and few quiet spaces.
vii) Traffic is such an issue that you can only drive every other day. If you take your car out on your banned day it is a £20 fine every time you drive past one of the many cameras.
viii) Beijing may be a cosmopolitan city but, apart from at the Forbidden City and Great Wall, we rarely saw a Caucasian face. On our trip to the Great Wall we were accompanied by seven wild members of Spanish band Lapegantina who were on tour. There is some great footage here.
ix) The food is very special - and very cheap. A six-course meal for four people won't set you back more than about £14 in total. I don't think I will be able to eat Chinese food in the UK ever again. In China it is fresh, spiced and delicious. No coffee or tea for breakfast though ... just soup. Special bonus was we did manage to find a bar, Laker's, which served free beer from 9-11pm each night. And among the gifts we came back with was a pack of our favourite green tea. Thanks Ying Xiong
x) The people couldn't be more friendly and hospitable. Special thanks to our hosts Dr Yuan Zhou and Ying Xiong aka Anastasia. They helped make it a very special week.

Friday, 21 October 2011

The Gaddafi front pages: Brutal but justified

The death of Muammar Gaddafi is one of those rare stories that makes me wish I was still drawing up pages for a morning paper. It has all the fascinating ingredients - shocking if poor quality pictures, worldwide reaction, masses of political soundbites, headline opportunities galore, huge international ramifications, more analysis and comment than you could ever print and questions of taste to be considered. The key question though is how comfortable will your readers be with pictures of a bloodied dead body on their breakfast table, even if it is that of man with masses of blood on his hands? Well, if you'd had pictures of Hitler's death would you have used them? Of course you would.  Today's front pages certainly don't shy away from the task. Thanks as always to @suttonnick.

The Daily Telegraph has no qualms about using a graphic picture of a dead body. The paper may be one of the last remaining broadsheets but this is classic tabloid treatment. A shocking eight-column picture with a big banner headline using a play on 'mercy' and 'merciless' and with blobbed subdecks. The Sun and Mirror were coming in for some Twitter stick last night on grounds of taste but this is as bold and in your face as it gets.  

And those worried about the tabloids, should take a look at the straight-laced Guardian. The picture is a bit grainier, the headline straighter and there are plenty of serious words ... but it's just as graphic and powerful.
The Times uses an unusual crop. At first glance you miss Gaddafi and see a picture of the rebel. Is it on grounds of taste perhaps? The picture certainly has a news context ... showing what happened. But I would have made the main player centre stage. 

The Daily Mail is arguably the most harrowing. It's a moment in time ... and far more newsy than the corpse pictures. The obvious choice of photograph might have been the dead body but the final seconds of Gaddafi's life, the panic in his eyes with a headline that is almost a speech bubble is gruesomely powerful. Pleased to see there is no glitzy blurb ... although I would certainly have dropped Free Duvet on this occasion.  
The Mirror is also pretty disturbing ... and some say the most outrageous. I do wonder whether a bloodied corpse across the front will do much for casual sales - but there's no denying its impact. It was pulled from the Sky News paper reviews last night for being too graphic - but having watched the video Sky showed I find that hard to believe. It's a dead body - supposedly too gratuitous - but what is the difference between that and the Telegraph? A pretty thin line. I recall plenty of dead body pictures - remember that of Che Guevara? The headline, the same line as the Mail's, captures Gaddafi's desperation and panic. For once, the exclamation marks are justified. It would, of course, have had more impact without the column off and the blurb.    
The Sun brings it all back to home ground with a splash headline aimed at getting its readers cheering - a modern day variation of Gotcha. The subdeck and strapline are very powerful too. Unusually the Sun didn't take the picture across six columns - perhaps concluding it would have broken up. Given the Telegraph and Guardian treatment it could have gone bigger, but it is still a classic Sun lesson in how to make an international incident relevant to your readers. 
The Independent and its sister title i can't resist the sequence which is usually a good call when the best pictures are grainy and low-resolution from a mobile phone. The i goes for six, the Indie for four and both adhere to the basic rule, using all the pictures the same size. But the readers could do with a bit of help - captions telling what is happening step by step. The Indie makes an attempt but the i leaves us wondering what is going on. The pictures are in different order, so are they really sequences? The other papers had the confidence to go bigger with the pictures. Maybe it wasn't the right call after all. 

They all contrasts with the American view. The International Herald Tribune goes for a celebratory picture - and relegates the dead Gaddafi picture to a two-column down page position.

A remarkable set of front pages ... a moment in history captured with confidence and impact.           

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Final newsquiz - Lottie's amazing 18.5 to beat

The Mail and Telegraph trainees left Howden this week and now embark on their regional placements. Good luck to them all. They are among the liveliest bunch of young journalists you are likely to meet. Congratulations to the Mail's Lottie Young and the Telegraph's Jess Winch who won the overall newsquiz for each paper. Jess won this week's Telegraph quiz with 12 points out of 22 to finish with 80.5 points over seven weeks, 7.5 ahead of second place Tom Rowley. Lottie scored an astonishing 18.5 out of 22 to win the Mail quiz and finish with 72.5 points over five weeks, 12 ahead of second place Kirsty McEwen. The top averages were Lottie with 14.5, Kirsty with 12.1, Jess with 11.5 and Raj Rai with 11.2.
Quiz queens: Jess and Lottie with their prizes
Jess and Lottie collected a scratchcard and a bottle of toffee vodka for their efforts. That's it for the newsquiz for another year (although I might drop in the occasional one just to keep you on your toes). Try your hand at this week's. You have Lottie's amazing 18.5 to beat.

1. Who was under fire for detaining five children a day?
2. Why was Alan Billis in the headlines?
3. Who is wrestler Stacy Keibler's lover?
4. The Hillsborough disaster has been back in the news. It was a tragedy for Liverpool and Sheffield but what was the third city involved?
5. Round the world sailor Stefan Ramin was allegedly eaten by a cannibal on which remote Pacific island?
6. Dan Wheldon died during which motor race? Full name please, four words.
7. Which children's YouTube channel was hit by hackers?
8. What position does Justine Greening hold in the Cabinet?
9. What will Blackberry users get as compensation for the loss of service last week?
10. Which letter went 'missing' during the World Scrabble Championship?
11. Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released after being held for five years by Hamas. What was his rank?
12. Former Commons researcher Katia Zatuliveter is facing deportation after being accused of spying. She was an aide for which Liberal Democrat MP? 
13. Wootton Bassett has been given the Royal prefix. How many servicemen/women has the town paid its respects to in the last four years?
14. Betty Driver passed away last weekend. She was well known for her part as Betty Williams (Turpin) in Coronation Street but which character did she originally audition for?
15. Fauja Singh started running marathons 11 years ago, at what age?
16. The Governor of the Bank of England said this week that time is running out to solve the world economy crisis. Who is the Governor of the Bank of England?
17. Who left Brown for Oxford?
18. Who received an apology from the BBC for "being written out of history"?
19. Robbie Savage and Orla Jordan performed the tango at half-time during which football match?
20. Which author won the 2011 Booker Prize this week? And, for a bonus point, name the book.
21.  The Daily Mail this week had to pay out undisclosed libel damages to which Lady?
How did you do? The answers are here.
Telegraph trainees Jess Winch, Jenny O'Mahony, Ben Bryant,
Lucy Kindle, Tom Rowley, Thomas Pascoe and Alice Philipson
Mail trainee subs Lyle Brennan, Libby Galvin, PA Finance Director Steven Brown,
Alys Denby, Tom Clarke, Raj Rai, Talal Musa, Kirsty McEwen,
my refined pate, trainer Mike Watson and Lottie Young

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Telegraph now recruiting trainee journalists

I am with the seven Telegraph trainee journalists this week, the final stage in their training at Howden before they go off to regional newspapers or the Press Association to cut their teeth. They will then begin work at the Telegraph next spring. Recent graduates of the the scheme, run by Press Association Training, include:
Jon Swaine now the paper's New York Correspondent and previously a member of the MP expenses's team.  
Heidi Blake investigative reporter who was nominated for Young Journalist of the Year and Scoop of the Year in the 2010 Press Awards.
Rowena Mason who writes on energy issues and was also nominated in last year's awards.
Graham Ruddick who is on the City desk covering healthcare, property and sports industries.
Rachel Cooper who is also on the City desk covering pharmaceutical and service companies. 
Harriet Alexander who is on the foreign desk at the Sunday Telegraph.
Jonathan Liew who is on the sportdesk covering football, cricket and golf.
There are many others, including the six trainees who began the scheme last year who are now all back at the Telegraph after their regional secondments.
The Telegraph is now looking for next year's intake. If you are interested you can apply here. If you are graduating next summer or you are on a journalism post-grad course, you will be perfectly placed. The scheme will start in September/October next year. The closing date is November 26. It is, trust me, too good an opportunity to miss. And, if you lucky enough to land an interview, here are some things to think about that might just help.

Contender for headline of the week

Here's an early contender for headline of the week from the Medway Messenger - Hearse joyrider had meat cleaver down trousers. It certainly fulfils the criteria of building a picture in the readers' minds and encouraging people to read on. Haven't most newspapers banned 'joyriders/joyriding' though? And given the short last line why not 'jogging bottoms' instead of trousers? Still, a cracking headline. 
Hat-tip to @danbloom1

Monday, 17 October 2011

Kylie: Not a "diminutive Antipodean chanteuse"

We were discussing elegant variations here last week, so it was timely to see an excellent addition to the list from Giles Coren in an article in the Independent on Sunday yesterday. Coren is quoted as saying:
When I started as editor of the Times diary (diaries are always the worst for cliché, as they're staffed by over-educated public schoolboys desperately trying to be noticed), I wrote up a list of words and sentences I would not stand for. At the top was, "diminutive Antipodean chanteuse", which used to feature practically weekly in the diary of my predecessor. What Kylie Minogue is, I told my dribbling, pink-faced underlings, is a short Australian singer. If you think people need to be told that, tell them. That is not a cliché. That is just language. "Diminutive Antipodean chanteuse", however, is just bollocks. Indeed, it is bollocks on stilts (to use a cliché I have always rather liked). 
The longer version of Coren's quote is blogged by John Rentoul who has written a book called The Banned List: A manifesto against jargon and cliche. I have already added it to my Christmas list  - and suggested to the trainees they do the same. And if you have regular 'transactional behaviour' with any politicians, you now have the flawless Yuletide donation notion (or, for all you simple souls, the  perfect Christmas gift idea). 

Hat-tip to @Petercampbell1

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The newsquiz - it's a toughie. 13.5 to beat.

The penultimate week for the Mail and Telegraph trainees this week, so the penultimate newsquiz.  It was clearly a bit harder as last week's high scores of around 16-17 slipped back to around 12-13. This week's scratchcards went to the Mail's Lottie Young with 13.5, narrowly beating Kirsty McEwen with 12.5, and the Telegraph's Ben Bryant with 12. Next week, the overall winners will be presented with something more interesting than a scratchcard. At the moment Jess Winch leads the Telegraph pack, 2.5 points ahead of Tom Rowley. The Mail's Lottie will take some catching, 5.5 points ahead of second place Kirsty.
See how you do. There are a possible 22 points as there is a bonus on question 21. 
Summing it up: Shevell and Fox (Q1). Pictures by the Press Association. 

1. Nancy Shevell and Liam Fox were the headline grabbers this week. What is their combined age?
2. Where did Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell get married?
3. One of the bridesmaids was McCartney's daughter from his marriage with Heather Mills, what is her name?
4. An investigation is taking place at a school after teachers allegedly had Facebook  conversation in which they described their pupils as 'inbred' and 'thick'. Name the school and the city (half point for each).
5. Grandmother Sally Hodkin was stabbed to death in a busy high street in which London district?
6. Whitehall's chief mandarin, the Cabinet Secretary, announced he is to retire at the end of the year. What is his name?
7. Where did Vincent Tabak go shopping after he allegedly murdered Jo Yeates?
8. The former Prime Minister of which country was jailed for seven years after being found guilty of exceeding her authority?
9. According to Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli, contestant Nancy Dell'Olio looked as though she had inhaled what? I am looking for the exact five-word answer for 1pt - if you get three words correct you get a half a point.
10. The European Championship qualifiers were completed this week with two teams going through with a 100% record. Name the two teams (half point for each).
11. Blackberry has suffered major network problems this week.  Blackberry is owned by RIM, what do the initials stand for?
12. Sir Bruce Forsyth collected his knighthood from the Queen. How old is he?
13. Downing Street breaks with tradition this weekend by doing what?
14. According to all the bookmakers who is the favourite act to be eliminated from the X-Factor this coming weekend?
15. Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre and columnist Kelvin Mackenzie both appeared at a seminar  arranged by which judge?
16. Geoffrey Boycott is involved in a legal wrangle over a property in which millionaires' resort?
17. BP and its partners have been given permission for a £4.5 billion oil project to the west of which islands?
18. Who, in the headlines this week, shared the same surname as her partner, even though they weren't married.
19. The Telford Junior Football League announced it was going to record all wins in its league by which score?
20. Another of Rupert Murdoch's papers is in the headlines ... this time for apparently buying thousands of its own copies, misleading readers and advertisers about the title's circulation. Name the paper.
21. Liam Fox's friends described Adam Werritty as being similar to a fictional character. Name the character - and, for a bonus point, the writer who created him.
The answers are here 

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Don't point that fireman at me ...

This story from the Roscommon Herald, about a DJ dressed as Osama Bin Laden pointing a gun at two men tending sheep in a field, raised a smile. It certainly succeeds in building a vivid picture in the readers' minds. But it gets even funnier in column 2. The policeman who made the arrest told the court. "He said he hadn't a licence for the gun. It looks extremely real and, in terms of weight, it felt like a fireman." A fireman? Blimey. How, I wonder, does the garda know what a fireman feels like. I think we should be told.

Monday, 10 October 2011

The strange case of the cutting-edge valise

The Mail trainee subs had a good afternoon with executive night editor Andy Gregory. Andy, once a Northern Echo colleague, gave a real insight into the way the Mail subs desk operates. He also touched on elegant variations. The phrase was coined by Fowler in his Dictionary of Modern English Usage, to refer to unnecessary synonyms. Fowler said: "It is the second-rate writers, those intent rather on expressing themselves prettily than on conveying their meaning clearly and still more those whose notions of style are based on a few misleading rules of thumb, that are chiefly open to the allurements of elegant variation. The fatal influence is the advice given to young writers never to use the same word twice in a sentence or within 20 lines or other limit."
Newspaper subs regularly encounter writers who don't like to use the same word twice, so seek elegant (or as the Americans call them, inelegant) variations. Some subs desks refer to them as povs, which stands for popular orange vegetable, a phrase supposedly edited out of an article about carrots. I have a story about a cow causing chaos on a motorway which I often give to trainee subs as an exercise. It is fascinating to watch the cow change into an animal, a beast and finally into a farmyard creature. In Andy's 30 years of subbing he has been collecting the examples that have crossed his desk at both the Express and the Mail. 
He shared some with the trainees today. See if you can work out what they are:
The popular fish-eating mammal
The tin-legged flying ace
Single-lens accessory
Love-it or loathe-it condiment
One of the world's best-loved insects
Red leather orb
Tasty bread-based snacks
The cutting-edge valise
Fantastic. They would make a great stocking-filler book. The answers are below. If you have any more examples, I would be delighted to receive them.
Answers: Otter; Douglas Bader; monocle; Marmite; bee; cricket ball; sandwiches; suitcase on wheels.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Amos made 'bigger impact' than Sir Harry Evans

I have just about recovered from Mike Amos's retirement party at the weekend. Peter Barron, editor of The Northern Echo, said Amos had made a bigger impact on the Echo than any other journalist - including former editors WT Stead and Harold Evans. High praise indeed. My musings on the weekend are here

Friday, 7 October 2011

Steve Jobs: Tributes and memories

Inevitably there are hundreds of tributes to Steve Jobs kicking around  this week. Here are some that caught my eye.
The Sydney Morning Herald uses an iPad frame

There have been lots of adaptations of the logo. This is one of the best.

Sums up one of the issues nicely

Here is PA's interactive timeline on Apple's history from its inception in 1984 to this week - with a close look at what happened to its share prices.
I can't claim to be a Mac User since 1984. I first dabbled in 1988 when I used to stand in for Mike Brough, the graphic artist at The Northern Echo, on his day off to change the weather map and football chalk boards. This video on how it all started brings it all back. And if you never tire of hearing the Jobs' philosophy this is worth a watch (and not just because it's a CEO delivering a keynote lecture in shorts). The advert on the crazy ones is particularly pertinent. 
And finally, here's the cover of Time, simple but effective.

Hat tips to @K1989B @charlesapple and @parkgraeme
Selection of quotes and tributes also on @TomDavenport website