Sunday, 31 July 2011

Kitten that looks like Hitler - a classic bill

Here's another newspaper bill to add to our collection, courtesy of Wherryman's Web. It's a cracker too ... I would defy you not to have bought the Cambridge Evening News on that particular day. You might be disappointed with the pictures though. Unless I'm missing something, it's just a cat with a black nose. 
Previous newspaper bill items can be found here, here and here. 

Monday, 25 July 2011

Going weekly may be the answer for more dailies

The Torquay Herald Express's move to a weekly paper this weekend has been a big success. It weighed in at 192 pages, was packed with local content and, judging by the adverts, made some decent money. On Friday the sales department was considering an extra print run as the paper rapidly sold 30,000 copies. Its average sale as a daily was 21,112. It's an impressive first issue. The content is neatly structured with dedicated sections on News (30 pages), People, What's On, Nostalgia, Business and 13 pages of Sport. The red meat comes in the form of letters and opinion, ten pages of letters, columnists, readers' pictures and platforms for local people. The daily breaking news and sports service for Torbay still exists ... on a revamped thisissouthdevon website. Congratulations to editor Andy Phelan and his team. I was happy to lend a hand on the design, marketing and strategy but the real work was done locally. They created a paper they believed in, that they knew would work for their community - and it has paid off. It's early days of course and they will have to sustain this quality each week but they are a professional and committed outfit,  so no reason to suggest they won't.
The Scunthorpe
 Telegraph announces its
weekly intentions
Next up is the Scunthorpe Telegraph, which will make the change to weekly on August 18. Editor Mel Cook is preparing a 140-page first edition. The early dummies suggest it will be a stylish newspaper rammed with local content. One thing is certain. The Scunthorpe Telegraph  won't be the last ... and nor should it be. In my outlook for 2011 in InPublishing magazine in January, I predicted there would be fewer evening papers by the end of the year. I wrote: "A weekly analysis of events, complementing a comprehensive, hyperlocal digital news service, is more relevant than a daily print offering out-of-date news." Great prediction? Not really; it's glaringly obvious. The only surprise is that, when the Bath Chronicle successfully turned weekly in 2007, more newspapers didn't follow suit then. In the current InPublishing, Steve Dyson lists evening titles that he believes are ripe to go weekly. The industry is certainly watching the changes at the two Northcliffe papers with interest.
The transition, of course, is not without cost. There have been job losses and some people will miss their evening paper (although 'evening' became a misnomer some years ago). But the halcyon days when each medium-sized community in the UK might have justified its own daily newspaper, days when advertisers and readers had nowhere else to go, are gone.
The change to weekly is really about longevity. It's about turning evening newspapers that are losing sale and revenue at alarming rates into viable long-term businesses before they crash to earth. It is inevitable that in some smaller communities, six-day-a-week publications will become increasingly less viable. But the key to any change to weekly is that the new paper has to be substantial and of real quality. Filling a fatter paper with rewritten Press Releases and overblown what's on entries will just accelerate its decline. Think of the Sunday model, rather than the local shopperIt's also important to stress that this isn't a one size fits all solution. In some places the daily model still has legs. But I would be surprised if the managements at all daily papers selling under 25,000 aren't seriously considering the weekly option.    
The first weekly
Herald Express
launched on Thursday

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Fancy subbing in the Med?

I have spent the last couple of years working with the Times and Sunday Times of Malta, helping them to restructure their newsroom. As part of this they are now looking for a chief sub to head up their new production department. It's a great job for an experienced newspaper production journalist. If you fancy it, you will need to be able to supervise and train a new team of subs, manage the workflow - and lay out and sub pages. You will also need a grasp of English and grammar that is second to none, as much of the copy is written by people who do not have English as their first language. You will be working for the daily Times of Malta, the Sunday and the website. 
It is a demanding job - with long and flexible hours - but with great rewards. These are serious newspapers and you will be working alongside a professional and committed team. Malta is also a great place to be - fantastic weather, great restaurants and stunning historical sites. The package includes help with relocation. Details of how to apply can be found on HoldTheFrontPage and interviews will be held in London in early September. 

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Forget the news ... let's write about romance

Back to this summer's topic ... drop intros. I have examples of good ones, bad ones and ones that just miss the mark. But I have never seen one quite like this before. I initially thought it was terrible but have concluded it is genius. You might have been tempted to write that 'A jilted boyfriend armed with a knife threatened to kill himself by jumping from a block of flats ..." But that is so yesterday, so News of the World, so easy. This story, from the Cannock Chase Post, is about unrequited love. And for all of you who doubt its brilliance, ask yourself what is the test of a great intro? To make the reader read on. I defy you not to. 
Hat-tip to Mike Lowe and Joanne Goodwin    

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Redtops in 'lowlife' dogfight

The Irish Daily Star - a robust red top based in Dublin - certainly has no empathy for its tabloid rival the Irish Sun. The Star's front page hamper about the News of the World closure denounces The Sun as a 'lowlife Brit sister rag.' But I can't help wonder if the Star's indignation about the 'lowlife' Sun would have a touch more credibility if it hadn't led on a woman dying from an allergic reaction after having sex with an alsatian. 

Sunday, 10 July 2011

10 observations about today's News of the World

Rogue politicians, celebrities and crooks will rest easier in their (and their lovers') beds from today. Whatever the rights, wrongs and political positioning, there can be no doubt that the closure of News of the World leaves a massive gap in British journalism. I enjoyed today's final issue which will be added to my burgeoning pile of old newspapers (I will need a bigger study soon). Here are ten random observations about the souvenir edition.

Must Read: Andy Dunn's excellent and passionate sports piece is a compulsory read for all wannabe sports journalists. Here is his response to former BBC director Greg Dyke's comment that NoW hacks 'are not journalists in the way we are.' Dunn writes: 'No, thankfully, we are not. Otherwise we would all be talking about chocolate cake, comparing MCC ties, feathering our own nest, revelling in middle class snobbery, looking down our noses at the punters who pay hard-earned pounds to watch the game. And we would all be ignoring any cancer in cricket, pretending it didn't exist, pocketing pounds for platitudes. We would all have some Kipling-esque boarding school vision of the sporting world. Tell me. When was the last time the Beeb actually broke a sports story of any note?' Sizzling stuff.

Falling on the sword moment: I see a lot of the Twitterati are saying the paper has never apologised. They clearly haven't read it. In the leader on Page 3 it says: 'Quite simply, we lost our way. Phones were hacked, and for that we are truly sorry. There is no justification for this appalling wrong-doing.' Can't get much clearer than that.

Putting the closure in perspective: My old colleague Carole Malone summed it all up passionately in her column: 'It can never be denied that this red top monolith has been a life force in British journalism and - love it or hate it - no politician, no crook, no pervert, no celebrity, no corporation has ever been able to ignore it.' Hard to argue with that.

Best headline: They think it's all over ... it is NOW. Should have thought of that on Thursday night. The Northern Echo did use Apocalypse Now, which comes close.

If only: The claim 'the World's Greatest Newspaper' that adorns today's issue is nicked from the Daily Express, which carries the slogan every day. But which is really the world's greatest? There's only one way to find out. Fight. Richard Desmond v Rupert Murdoch. Who wouldn't buy tickets for that?

The missing decade: What happened to the paper in the 70s? There are special front pages from the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 80s, 90s and the 2000s - but not a single one from the 1970s. The editors then were Cyril Lear, Peter Stephens and Bernard Shrimsley. Maybe it was just a bummer news decade.

Sweetest moment: It was a sad day all round at Wapping yesterday - but using the front page of Question Time's Hugh Grant's indiscretion must have brought a collective smile around the newsroom.

Pedant's corner: There are a few mistakes in the dates and headlines on the souvenir pages - 'Sophie: the Tapes' was in the year 200, 'Crouch beds £800 teen hooker' has the date running over the headline and why is the Robin Cook page out of sequence? It's from 1997 but comes after the 1998 and 1999 pages. (Sorry, once a sub, always a sub). Guess it was put together quickly ... and maybe they were corrected for later editions.

Spare a thought: There are a lot of losers in the closure, not least the journalists. But there are others who will miss out too, such as the people at who gave a free holiday to columnist Ian Hyland and were hoping for a nice positive write-up next month. Oops.

Best crossword puzzle clue: 24 across in the Cryptic crossword is 'Woman stares wildly at calamity'. Answer: 'Disaster'. 

And finally, those who are rubbing their hands with glee at the death of a newspaper, should read Sara Payne's piece on Pages 6 and 7. 'Like all good friends they have stuck with me through the good and the bad and helped me through both.' Whichever way you look at it the News of the World was a paper that got things done. Whether a seven day Sun emerges or not, it will be missed.

You can see all the souvenir pages here.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Read all about it ... News of the World

Here are today's front pages, courtesy of @suttonnick. There's nothing quite like a dog eat dog story to inspire the headline writers. The Telegraph and The Northern Echo are both well done (although the latter could do with a bit of kerning). Hacked to death by The Times and the Mirror is a nice line - if slightly diminished because it was used as a joke by Hugh Grant on Question Time. End of the World and World's End are the obvious ones. The Mail brings its indignation to the table, while The FT and Guardian play it straight. The Star tries hard to contrive a between link the two stories of the day - but Emma Watson was always going to win over Rebekah Brooks. The picture of Brooks is powerful and used well in The Echo, Guardian and Mail. But the archive photograph of Murdoch with the old News of the World - the first paper he brought in Britain 42 years ago and one that was particularly special to him - is pretty poignant. Strong pages on a sad and damaging day. There is plenty of hand-rubbing by the paper's detractors but nobody should feel any joy in seeing a 168-year-old institution closed down and some excellent (and blameless) journalists thrown out of their jobs.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Astonishing drop intro at the News of the World

On the subject of drop intros, here is a stunning example from James Murdoch to NotW staff today. The story is in the 19th paragraph. Terrible news for some excellent staff there and, despite the glee from its detractors, there should only be sadness that a 168-year old title with an amazing history should end this way. PS: I hear the Sunday Sun is being mooted ...  think Trinity Mirror might have something to say about that.  

Message from James Murdoch

I have important things to say about the News of the World and the steps we are taking to address the very serious problems that have occurred.
It is only right that you as colleagues at News International are first to hear what I have to say and that you hear it directly from me.
You do not need to be told that the News of the World is 168 years old. That it is read by more people than any other English language newspaper. That it has enjoyed support from Britain’s largest advertisers. And that it has a proud history of fighting crime, exposing wrong-doing and regularly setting the news agenda for the nation.
When I tell people why I am proud to be part of News Corporation, I say that our commitment to journalism and a free press is one of the things that sets us apart. Your work is a credit to this.
The good things the News of the World does, however, have been sullied by behaviour that was wrong. Indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our Company.
The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself.
In 2006, the police focused their investigations on two men. Both went to jail. But the News of the World and News International failed to get to the bottom of repeated wrongdoing that occurred without conscience or legitimate purpose. Wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad and this was not fully understood or adequately pursued.
As a result, the News of the World and News International wrongly maintained that these issues were confined to one reporter. We now have voluntarily given evidence to the police that I believe will prove that this was untrue and those who acted wrongly will have to face the consequences.
This was not the only fault.
The paper made statements to Parliament without being in the full possession of the facts. This was wrong.
The Company paid out-of-court settlements approved by me. I now know that I did not have a complete picture when I did so. This was wrong and is a matter of serious regret.
Currently, there are two major and ongoing police investigations. We are cooperating fully and actively with both. You know that it was News International who voluntarily brought evidence that led to opening Operation Weeting and Operation Elveden. This full cooperation will continue until the Police’s work is done.
We have also admitted liability in civil cases. Already, we have settled a number of prominent cases and set up a Compensation Scheme, with cases to be adjudicated by former High Court judge Sir Charles Gray. Apologising and making amends is the right thing to do.
Inside the Company, we set up a Management and Standards Committee that is working on these issues and that has hired Olswang to examine past failings and recommend systems and practices that over time should become standards for the industry. We have committed to publishing Olswang’s terms of reference and eventual recommendations in a way that is open and transparent.
We have welcomed broad public inquiries into press standards and police practices and will cooperate with them fully.
So, just as I acknowledge we have made mistakes, I hope you and everyone inside and outside the Company will acknowledge that we are doing our utmost to fix them, atone for them, and make sure they never happen again.
Having consulted senior colleagues, I have decided that we must take further decisive action with respect to the paper.
This Sunday will be the last issue of the News of the World.
Colin Myler will edit the final edition of the paper.
In addition, I have decided that all of the News of the World’s revenue this weekend will go to good causes.
While we may never be able to make up for distress that has been caused, the right thing to do is for every penny of the circulation revenue we receive this weekend to go to organisations – many of whom are long-term friends and partners – that improve life in Britain and are devoted to treating others with dignity.
We will run no commercial advertisements this weekend. Any advertising space in this last edition will be donated to causes and charities that wish to expose their good works to our millions of readers.
These are strong measures. They are made humbly and out of respect. I am convinced they are the right thing to do.
Many of you, if not the vast majority of you, are either new to the Company or have had no connection to the News of the World during the years when egregious behaviour occurred.
I can understand how unfair these decisions may feel. Particularly, for colleagues who will leave the Company. Of course, we will communicate next steps in detail and begin appropriate consultations.
You may see these changes as a price loyal staff at the News of the World are paying for the transgressions of others. So please hear me when I say that your good work is a credit to journalism. I do not want the legitimacy of what you do to be compromised by acts of others. I want all journalism at News International to be beyond reproach. I insist that this organisation lives up to the standard of behaviour we expect of others. And, finally, I want you all to know that it is critical that the integrity of every journalist who has played fairly is restored.

Thank you.

James Murdoch

Deputy Chief Operating Officer

Chairman and CEO, International, News Corporation