Monday, 30 April 2012

Who's that girl?

Good splash in the Scunthorpe Telegraph on Thursday ... but it was the plainly designed advert that caught the eye. Who is Amanda? Is she pregnant? We need to know! One thing is certain about her though, she knows how effective advertising in your local paper can be. Good for her. The Scunthorpe Telegraph reporters are, of course, on the case. Outgoing editor Mel Cook tells me Amanda met the man of her dreams after the Huddersfield v Scunthorpe game last Saturday but he 'did a Cinderella on her'. Apparently it's Amanda's last chance for love. This one could run and run. I suggest you all subscribe to the Telegraph to find out what happens next.

Why subs need a dirty mind .. and good taste

I regularly warn subs that they must have a dirty mind and good taste ... so that they keep the double entendre and innuendo out of the paper. As the page above shows, the rule also applies to advertising and promotions. Thanks to Sports Business International editor @mattycutler for this. It reminds me of a headline a few years ago, above an interview with a woman who had won a competition in the Bucks Free Press, which read: I didn't know my boyfriend had entered me. Here are a couple of other examples where good taste might have intervened here and here.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Be careful of dodgy relationships

There have been a few embarrassing juxtapositions doing the rounds this week, including the three above. The 'Man plunges to his death front' is at least six years old. I remember using it during design courses to illustrate the point that anyone laying out a page should always see the adverts first. Incidentally, I am told by my Aussie mates that the spelling of Pedophile on the Sunshine Coast daily is correct. New one on me. There is no doubt that the dodgy juxtaposition of headlines and pictures is rarely libellous and can cause amusement and a flurry of attention. But sometimes an inappropriate relationship can also be crass, in bad taste and occasionally hurtful. At best it will have people laughing at your paper, not a good thing. Subs, layout artists and advertising staff need to be wary of them. Here are a few more. Be warned.

Footnote: Since I posted these @SimonNRicketts has pointed out that the Obama page from the Washington Post is probably a spoof. Here's the evidence. @foodepedia asks if we would change an advert or story. It's a fine line. I haven't changed copy or the wording of an advert but I have moved stories and ads so they don't sit next to each other. I have even thrown and advert out of the paper ... and been thanked by the advertiser for saving him from embarrassment. 

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Spot the editor

This old Northcliffe football team picture, supplied by the Oxford Mail's Simon O'Neill,  features no fewer than eight current or recent regional editorial executives. I remember them playing The Northern Echo side while on tour ... and, boy, were they brutal. The only team our side ever refused to drink with afterwards. See how many you can name. Answers here. 

Days of hot metal and Biffo the stonehand

The news that the Shields Gazette is moving from its Chapter Row offices in South Shields has taken me on a brief journey down memory lane. When I was a trainee reporter at the Shields Weekly News, on the other side of the Tyne in North Shields, all of our copy was set and our pages made up at the Gazette offices. An elderly messenger used to pick up the copy and pictures, walk down to the ferry (the Freda Cunningham), cross the river, head up the hill to the Gazette, deliver our typed copy and then come back again. He did this on a continual loop every day. Then, on one memorable occasion, I too got to make the journey. The editor, the colourful Robin Thompson, was going on holiday and decided I should learn how to sub and stone-in the pages. So after laying out the sports pages I headed off across the Tyne for my first ever experience as a stone sub. It was 34 years ago but it remains one of my most vivid memories. Hot metal, chases and flongs, the clatter, the dominant smell of ink and the stroppy stonehands, who clearly thought the 22-year-old trainee in the ill-fitting John Collier suit was an idiot. I remember just standing and staring. It was there and then that I acquired my lifelong subbing fascination. And then I was whisked off to the General Havelock for the compulsory, and very quick, two-pint break before finishing off the pages. Once they were done I read them, marked up all the changes and then, grabbing my first set of final proofs with enormous pride, legged it back for the last ferry home. It became a regular trip. I eventually got to know what I was doing, played for the Gazette football team (which included Mel Vasey who went on to edit the Wharfedale Observer and qualify as a referee) and met some great friends. A year later, when I was off to The Northern Echo, I had farewell drinks with all the inkies in the Havelock. With Dutch courage I turned to the huge bald stonehand who I had worked with for the last 12 months. I had no idea what his real name was, only that he was known as Biffo. Tell me, I slurred, do they call you Biffo because you look like the bear from the Beano? No, he said, they call me Biffo because I'm a Big Ignorant Fucker From Ouston. Good luck to current editor John Szymanski (@John_Szy) and all of those moving from Chapter Row. They carry with them a huge slice of history.
Picture: Shields Gazette 

Friday, 27 April 2012

Richard Wooldridge remembered

Family, friends and newspaper colleagues gathered at St. Chad’s Church in York yesterday for a memorial service for Richard Wooldridge, MD of the Yorkshire Evening Press (YEP), editorial director of Westminster Press (WP) and finally CEO of the International Herald Tribune in Paris. Richard, 69, was the victim of a heart attack while on holiday in Morocco in March.
His burial was in France, where he and his family had lived since he joined the IHT, so the York service was an opportunity for those on this side of the Channel to remember him and mark his passing.
The service was led by Reverend Canon Simon Stanley, a long-standing family friend since the Wooldridge’s time in York, who recalled Richard’s passion for rally driving. He experienced terror as a passenger in a car being driven by Richard along North Yorkshire’s narrow country roads to a Sunday pub lunch.
“Sensing my unease,” he said, “Richard explained to me that driving on the wrong side of the road was perfectly legal as long as there’s nothing coming the other way.”
Nick Herbert, Richard’s predecessor as WP’s editorial director, and former YEP editor David Nicholson paid tribute to Richard’s passion for high editorial standards, campaigning journalism, and community involvement in regional newspapers.
The congregation also included former YEP colleagues Alan Potter (chief sub), feature writer Robert Beaumont and Martin King (Richard’s deputy editor and later Basildon Evening Echo editor), and David Kernek (aka David Flintham) his successor as YEP editor and later editor of The Northern Echo.
One of Richard’s biggest YEP campaigns was the – inevitably doomed – fight to stop the NestlĂ©’s Rowntree take-over in 1988. As happenstance would have it, the rumble of tumbling brick could be heard in St. Chad’s as the demolition of the 1926 Terry’s chocolate factory on the other side of the Knavesmire began. Terry's was taken over in 1993 by Kraft, which closed the factory in 2005 and moved production to Europe. Its closure brought to an end more than a century of chocolate-making in York.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

How I got my hands on Shay Given's gloves

Andy Cooper left the editorship of the North Devon Journal on Friday after 15 years with Northcliffe's Cornwall and Devon Media. I first met Andy 17 years ago when he attended one of our Editor's Chair courses while editing the Brentwood Gazette. I have worked with him since from time to time, including the redesign of the CDM titles. Most memorable though was a Northcliffe editor's conference in 2007. I agreed to organise and run the conference at Tortworth Court Hotel near Bristol and invited big-hitters such as Tim Anderson from Bluffton Today, Graham Dudman from The Sun, Vicky Taylor from the BBC and Lars Jespersen from Danish media company Nordeskye. The conference timings meant I was to be away from home for my birthday (no problem there) which also happened to be the date of the UEFA Cup Final in Glasgow. No worries. The chances of Newcastle United reaching the final were astronomical. As the date grew closer though it wasn't quite as cut and dry. Newcastle had comfortably won their group stage, brushed aside Zulte Waregem 4-1 in the knock out stages and, having beaten AZ Alkmaar 4-2 at St James's, looked set for the quarter finals. The prospect of Newcastle winning their first meaningful trophy in 38 years, on my birthday, and me not being there (I was at the Fairs Cup Final in 1969) was too terrible to contemplate. I worked out the flights, trains and even the drive that would get me from Glasgow to Bristol overnight in time for the conference opening. In typical fashion, Andy offered to hold the fort. As it happens, and in equally typical fashion, Glenn Roeder's team crashed out in the away leg in Holland. Panic over. When I arrived at Tortworth Court (instead of Hampden Park) on the evening before the conference, Andy was there to buy me a birthday drink and present me with one of the most cherished gifts I have ever received. Concerned that I was going to miss a rare moment of Newcastle glory, he had written to Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given and been sent a pair of his signed gloves (in return for a donation to the Irish international's favoured charity). Andy had framed the gloves along with a brass plaque that reads: Presented to Peter Sands with grateful thanks for his help in organising the Northcliffe Editorial Conference 2007. It was always in safe hands ... just like Shay Given's. 
It was a fantastic gesture by Andy that typifies his generosity. He bowed out on Friday with a note that ended with: I wish you all the very best, both personally and professionally, in whatever life throws in front of you in the future and, in the immortal words of Sergeant Phil Esterhaus . . .Let's be careful out there. Good luck Andy ... and many thanks.