Friday, 27 March 2015

Young journalists from UK and US join the Mail

Some of last year's trainees - including those from America
The search for young journalists to join the Mail's training schemes has just about finished. After months of CV-sifting by my colleague Mike Watson and three weeks of interviews, we have finally selected trainees for MailOnline, the sport desk, Femail, the Mail newsroom and subs desk. They will begin the training scheme in September. 

Next week interviews are taking place with Sue Ryan in New York for trainee online journalists for The successful applicants will be trained for three weeks in the US and then head over to Britain to work at the Mail and regional newspapers before returning to America. This follows-on from last year's scheme where five young Americans spent five months training and working on UK newspapers. 

The Mail, along with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, is also offering places on the scheme to two people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Mail has long-supported the family of Stephen, who was murdered at 18 in 1993.  Applications for these scholarships must be in by this Monday. Here's how to apply.

All in all, that is a lot of young people who will be joining the Mail this year. I look forward to working with them. 

Test your news knowledge with this week's quiz

The top submitted score in last week’s newsquiz was by back-in-form Alex Murphy with 17.5 points. Adam Batstone scored 13 on his own and when Mrs B (Lucy Thorpe) came back from her run the collective Batstone score went up to 16. James Restall and Catherine Hardy (separately) got an respectable 15, both thanking their Budget knowledge. Chris Lennon scored 12, blaming the solar eclipse for clouding his mind. Damon Wake had a far better excuse for his 9.5 … he spent the week on a Thai beach. Pretty impressive under the circumstances. Have a crack at this week’s quiz. As usual there are 20 questions with five bonuses, so 25 points up for grabs. Let me know how you get on. 

The i's report on the plane crash in the Alps.
(Question 1)
1. The Germanwings flight that crashed in the Alps was travelling to which German city?
Bonus: What was the name of the co-pilot who apparently locked the pilot from the cockpit and took control of the plane? 
Bonus: The flags at which football club’s stadium were lowered to half-mast in memory of Martyn Matthews who was killed in the crash?
2. In the Channel 4/Sky election debates, when pressed by Jeremy Paxman, David Cameron admitted he couldn't live on what?
Bonus: Paxman told an anecdote ('heard on the Tube') about Ed Miliband going into a room with someone. Two minutes later the other person is standing smiling and Miliband is all over the floor in pieces. Who was the other person?  
3. David Cameron said: ’Terms are like _______ _______ . Two are wonderful but three might just be too many.’ What are the missing words? 
Bonus: Parliament will be dissolved on Monday in preparation for the election. The State Opening of the new Parliament will be on which date?
4. Songwriter Jackie Trent, who died this week, wrote the lyrics for which TV soap opera's theme tune?
5. Thousands of people lined the streets to pay tribute to their first prime minister, who governed their country for more than three decades. Which country? 
6. A record 221 points were scored in the three final matches of the Six Nations rugby tournament. Which country scored the most?
7. Who fled the Queen’s Head pub during a protest by 'migrants, HIV activists, gay people, disabled people and breastfeeding mums’?
8. What was defeated by 228 votes to 202? 
9. The last episode of which television series will be screened on Christmas Day?
10. Utah has resurrected a law that allows what form of execution?
11. Huseyin Ulucan became the first person in Europe to receive what?
12. Why was Perrie Edwards dubbed the new Yoko Ono?
13. Why was the BRCA1 gene in the headlines?
14. What, for the first time since records began, was the same this February as it was last February?
15. The Supreme Court ruled the 'black spider memos’ sent to seven Government departments could be published. Who wrote them?
16. Why are Belgium and Israel playing two European Championship qualifier games in the next few days when every other team is only playing one?
17. 23 people were taken to hospital after a coach rolled off the A83 at which scenic Scottish pass?
18. American Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in 2009 and released as part of a prisoner swap last year, has been charged with what offence?
19. At which event did Benedict Cumberbatch read a 14-line poem by the Poet Laureate? 
Bonus: Who is the Poet Laureate? 
20. Jodie Kidd, Guy Martin, Steve Coogan and Chris Evans are among the bookies' favourites to become what?

Answers here

Friday, 20 March 2015

Test yourself with this week's newsquiz

Here's this week's newsquiz. Last week's top scorers almost had a good sequence going. The top score of 17 was submitted by veteran quizzer Lydia Willgress. James Restall got an impressive 15, Chris Lennon clocked a personal best at 14, Alex Murphy 13, Adam Batstone (and Mrs B, Lucy Thorpe) got 12, the same as Damon Wake and Ailsa Leslie 11. A score of 16 would have made it very neat. As usual there are 20 questions, with five bonuses, so 25 points in total. Let me know how you get on with this week's quiz.  

The Budget dominated Thursday's front pages
(Question 1)
1. In his Budget, Chancellor George Osborne reduced the duty on beer by how much? Bonus: The personal tax allowance will increase to how much next year? Bonus: A new £1 coin will be introduced in 2017. How many sides will it have? Bonus: Mr Osborne announced that millions of pounds will be put towards commemorating the anniversaries of which two battles? Half point each. 
2. In a separate announcement the Government said it would raise the minimum wage for over 21-year-olds by 20p from October. This will make it how much per hour?
3. Who delivered an alternative budget using a yellow box?
4. Who said: 'Things would be dull without gossip’ ?
5. Thousands of people have signed a petition trying to prevent rapper Kanye West doing what?
6. What was the name of the museum where terrorists killed more than 20 people in Tunis? 
Bonus: A British woman was among those killed. What was her name?
7. How many British football teams in total made it through to the quarter finals of the Champions League and Europa League?
8. The Metropolitan Police is to be investigated over claims of 14 separate child sex abuse cover-ups - including allegations that it failed to charge which Liberal MP?
9. What was the name of the cyclone which caused death and devastation on the Pacific island of Vanuatu?
10. Victoria Beckham and Elton John were among the celebrities who spoke out against Dolce & Gabbana after the fashion designers called childen born via IVF what?
11. Lady Victoria Borwick was selected by the Conservatives to succeed Malcolm Rifkind in the safe seat of Kensington. Which official position does Lady Borwick currently hold?
12. The Likud party scored a decisive victory in which country’s general election?
13. Which supermarket reported its fifth consecutive quarter of falling sales and warned that trading conditions remain challenging 'for the foreseeable future’? Bonus: A survey by The Grocer magazine revealed which supermarket in the UK to be the cheapest?
14. Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps said he 'screwed up' by saying he never had a second job while an MP - when he was working as a web marketeer under which pen name?
15. American Ellis Short swapped a Urugayan for a Dutchman. Where did this happen?
16. HSBC wrote to customers telling them their accounts may be closed if they did not take their passport and address details to a local branch. Where did the branch have to be?
17. Why were judges Timothy Bowles, Warren Grant and Peter Bullock removed from office?
18. From which date will passport checks be carried out on all people leaving the UK? 
19. How was a Czech tourist, visiting the Norwegian island of Svalbard to watch the solar eclipse, injured?
20. Which of these is not included in the National Bird Campaign to pick the UK’s most iconic bird? Blue tit, robin, swan, sparrow, wren, red kite?

Answers here

Friday, 13 March 2015

Have a crack at this week's newsquiz

The newsquiz must have been a little tougher last week. The top submitted score was 15 by Damon Wake. Adam Batstone scored 13 with a little help from Mrs B, Lucy Thorpe. Usual high scorer Alex Murphy clocked in with a disappointing 8. Special mention goes to Nicola Castell who scored 13 - a personal best - in my local, the Plough, last Friday night. It's difficult to judge but my proofreader reckons this week's quiz might even be a little meaner than last time. As usual there are 20 questions, with five bonuses, so 25 points to be had. Let me know how you get on. 

Terry Pratchett on today's Guardian front page
(Question 18)

1. Name the Irish setter which died after apparently being fed beef chunks laced with poison at Crufts. Bonus: Under what name did the dog compete? 
2. Who said: 'It was a situation I was totally untrained for, totally unprecedented, and I make no excuses. I was the man who did it.’? 
3. The family of Marvin Gaye were awarded more than $7.3million in damages after an LA court decided that Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines had more than just a passing resemblance to which song?
4. Sean O’Brien went viral, won the support of celebrities and a star-studded party in his honour is now being planned in LA. How is he better known?
5. Times’ journalist Andrew Norfolk was named News Reporter of the Year at this week’s Press Awards for his coverage of which story?
6. Which TV programme came in for criticism from viewers who said the cast sounded like Wurzels?
7. The pound rose to its highest level against the Euro since December 2007. At today’s rate (Fri) how many Euros do you get for a pound? Bonus: Gordon Brown warned that if Britain left the EU it would be out in the cold with few friends ... like which other country?
8. David Cameron is to become the first Conservative prime minister to send a child to a state secondary school. Name the child. Bonus: Name the school. 
9. Cricketer Majid Haq was sent home from the Cricket World Cup after posting a Tweet that said: 'Always tougher when you're in the minority! #colour #race’. Which country does he play for?
10. The Conservatives and Labour have declined to confirm whether, if they were in Government after May, their defence spending would meet Nato's current target. What percentage of GDP is that target?
11. The chair of the BBC Trust came under pressure to resign over her role as an independent director at HSBC. Name her.
12. Solar Impulse is attempting to do what?
13. What is the name of the duo who will represent the UK in Eurovision 2015?
14. Photographer Patrick McCann is recovering in hospital with a broken leg. What happened to him? 
15. Members of the Royal family and political leaders are attending a ceremony today (Fri) to mark the end of combat operations in the Afghanistan and remember the servicemen and women who lost their lives. Where is it being held? 
16. Why did the players in the Chelsea versus Paris St Germain Champions League game wear black armbands?
17. Why was Oisin Tymon in the headlines?
18. What two words were in Terry Pratchett’s final Tweet? Bonus: How old was he?
19. The ex-wife of the millionaire owner of Ecotricity, Dale Vince, was granted the right to claim a divorce settlement … even though they divorced 23 year ago. How much is she claiming? Bonus: Mr Vince owns which football club?
20. The Speaker, John Bercow apologised, to Employment Secretary Esther McVey for comparing her to what?
Answers here

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Ten thoughts about The Press Awards

The Times team celebrates the Newspaper of the Year award
Picture by Nick Carter, MagStar/Press Awards UK
Last night the great and the good of Britains national newspapers gathered for the Press Awards. It was a cracking evening from which I have just about recovered. I really ought to have learned by now to skip the bar afterwards. The Times took the Newspaper of the Year award - helped massively by the dogged determination and journalistic brilliance of Andrew Norfolk in uncovering the Rotherham sex scandal. All credit to The Times for giving him four years to cover one story. You can watch his emotional acceptance speech for the News Reporter of the Year award here - and reassure yourself that investigative journalism is alive and well. Well done to him, The Times and all of last nights winners. As always, the night was a real celebration of the best newspapers in the world and an opportunity to catch up with (increasingly) old faces. Here are my musings on the night.

Andrew Norfolk with host Nick Ferrari
Picture by Nick Carter, MagStar/Press Awards UK
i) The Times were the winners on the night by a long way. The daily collected eight winners’ awards - including Newspaper of the Year, largely due to the amazing work by Andrew Norfolk in Rotherham. There were also two highly commended awards. The Sunday Times collected two winners awards and two highly commended. It was quite a haul. It was also pleasing to see the paper which won the most individual awards, winning newspaper of the year. That hasn’t always happened ... but it makes sense to me.

ii) The Mirror also had a good night. The daily collected five winners’ awards and two highly commended mentions. The Daily Record also won an award and a highly commended, the Sunday Mirror was highly commended twice and the People once. It is good to see a red-top doing so well. The full breakdown of last night's award winners is Times 8, Daily Mirror 5, Daily Mail 4, Independent and i 3, Financial Times 2, Sunday Times 2, Guardian 1, Daily Telegraph 1, Standard 1, Press Association 1, Mail On Sunday 1, Independent on Sunday 1, Daily Record 1. In the last 15 years the only red-tops to win Newspaper of the Year have been the News of the World (2005) and the Mirror (2002). The judges, mainly journalists, have traditionally gravitated towards the heavier papers. It is, of course, difficult comparing red-top story-getters with the writers of the qualities. The Society of Editors has recognised this, separating some categories for the quality and popular papers. A good move.

iii) The Mirror did well  but where was The Sun? One shortlisted entry (Dan Wootton for Showbiz Reporter) and one nomination for the Cudlipp Award were the paper's only mention. Britain’s biggest selling paper not winning an award, let alone barely being shortlisted, is a bit of a shocker. I was also surprised that the world’s biggest newspaper website, MailOnline, wasn’t shortlisted for the digital award. Perhaps it didn’t enter.

iv) Another imbalance, which was mentioned on Twitter a few times last night, was the number of women represented. Seventeen of the winners were men and only four - including the Georgina Henry Women In Journalism Award -  were women. Last year there were 13 male winners and six women, so it looks like a step backwards. I believe, though, that the breakdown is more indicative of the balance in the newsrooms than any problem with the awards. The Society, under the guidance of Sue Ryan, is certainly ensuring there are more women on the judging panels. It is clearly a broader issue. And dont get me started on the number of journalists with an ethnic background 

v) It is always interesting to see how last year’s winners perform. The Guardian which cleaned up last year with four awards, including Newspaper of the Year, only won one award this year. It seems to be a bit of a pattern. The Daily Telegraph, which swept the board and won Newspaper of the Year for the MP expenses story in 2010, only gained a couple of highly commended mentions the following year. Someone suggested in the bar last night that there was some kind of ‘Buggins turn’ going on. There definitely isn’t. In years of judging I have never heard anyone suggest that last year’s results should be a taken into account  ... at any level. There must be another reason. Any thoughts? 

vi) The winners are invited to say a few words as they collect their award. Some do, some dont. The audience usually gives an internal groan when someone goes to hog the microphone. But not last night. The speeches were among the best bits. If you werent there take a look at the videos on the Press Awards website. You will hear Andrew Norfolk talk about how he 'shamed that cess pit of a council in Rotherham'. Another Times journalist Anthony Lloyd took the opportunity to thank the doctors in Syria, Baghdad and London who patched him up and his Syrian fixer who taught him that though the pen is sometimes mightier than the sword there is also a place for a claw hammer’. 
On the lighter side there was Independent columnist Mark Steel saying: 'It’s lovely to write for a newspaper that, when you tell people in the wider world who you’re writing for, they say - aah, I didn’t know that was still going.’ Oh and there was also Quentin Letts calling his editor ‘a pussycat.’  Have a look here, it’s worth it.

vii) Presenter Nick Ferrari is a gem. For the last few years he has hosted the Regional Press Awards and gone down a storm, so it was good to see him stepping up to the big one. He understands the business, he goes off script, he is irreverent but respectful and gets the tone spot on. He was also the best presenter yet in keeping the murmuring crowd in check. The event ran over but he was still there beaming away even though he had to be back on LBC for the early shift this morning. Great job Nick.

Young Journalist of the Year, Peter Campbell
Picture by Nick Carter, MagStar/Press Awards UK
viii) It is always nice to see people I have had the privilege to train, getting recognition. I worked with Larisa Brown and Peter Campbell on the Daily Mail training scheme and Alan Selby on the Trinity Mirror scheme. All three were nominated for the Young Journalist award. As an extra bonus, Peter won it. Well done to all three. I met Heidi Blake on the Telegraph scheme and was delighted to see her involvement in the Insight investigation into the Fifa Files, which won the News Team of the Year Award for The Sunday Times. It was also great to see Fay Schlesinger, home editor of The Times, on the stage with the team picking up the Newspaper of the Year award. Proud of them all.

The Telegraph's Matt with Nick Ferrari and Sue Ryan
Picture by Nick Carter, MagStar/Press Awards UK

ix) Two of the industry’s most likeable, talented and self-effacing characters collected special awards. Matt Pritchett - known to most people simply as Matt - was presented with the Journalists’ Charity Award for an outstanding contribution to journalism. Presenting the award, Sue Ryan, the charity’s chair, said: ‘His gently subversive but life affirming world view is as sharp as any leader writer or columnist - with the added pleasure that he also makes us laugh out loud’. I’ll drink to that. The chairman’s award went to a man who Bob Satchwell said had 'a formidable reputation for accuracy, fairness, lack of bias and speed of delivery’. Step forward the Press Association’s Jonathan Grun. Two very well-deserved awards.

PA's Jonathan Grun receives the Chairman's Award
Picture by Nick Carter, MagStar/Press Awards UK

x) And, talking about the Journalists Charity ... a whipround on each table raised nearly £3,000. The Mirror’s table won the Champagne for stuffing their donation box with the most notes … well done them. The charity is something all journalists need to support. The details are here

Finally congratulations again to Bob Satchwell, the Society of Editors' executive director, and his team, including MagStar. Its been a tough year for journalism, so we all needed something to celebrate and a bit of a party. It went off brilliantly, the food was lovely, the drink flowed, the presentations were slick and the company was enjoyable. But behind the scenes I know all too well the effort that goes into making the whole thing as fair as possible, organising the event, printing and proof-reading, keeping everyone happy in a room bouncing with rivalry and egos and general firefighting. Well done Bob ... it was a triumph.

Now we have to do it all again at the regional awards. Ill see you for more celebrations on May 15. 

Saturday, 7 March 2015

The world's 17 best-looking newspapers?

It’s that time of year again when the world’s best designed newspapers are chosen by a panel of five judges in Syracuse, New York. This year they have drawn up a shortlist of 17 with the final five to be announced at a gala evening at The Newseum in April where the world’s best designed apps and websites will also be announced. I have long-followed the Society for Newspaper Design’s competition, applauding the recognition it gives to talented newspaper designers from around the world. This year the list is full of the usual suspects. All bar one of last year’s top five are included in the 17. They are Dagens Nyheter (Sweden), The Grid (Canada), Welt am Sonntag (Germany) and The Guardian. Only Germany’s Die Zeit is missing. Four of those, along with Denmark’s Politiken, were winners in 2013 and a couple of winners from 2012, Canada’s National Post and Mexico’s Excelsior, are back in favour. The judges, of course, say that is because 'the best have a way of rising to the top regardless of who is doing the tasting'.
They are probably right. But I fear it is all becoming a little predictable. Many on the shortlist are lavish feature pages - almost magazines in newsprint - with barely an advert in sight. They look splendid of course, and I appreciate the design is about the art of the page, but is there not room for some tabloid (dare I say it) red-top grittiness? I was also slightly disappointed that the recent resurgence in Asian newspaper design (particularly from The Times of Oman, South China Morning Post, the Gulf News) has not seen any of them burst into the top 17.
The Times of Oman did however, deservedly, receive a judges' Special Recognition, award for indefatigable creativity in its World Cup coverage for this:

All of that said, there are some cracking pages on the shortlist. Top marks to SND for organising it and congratulations to The Guardian for reaching the top 17. Looking at the shortlist, it must have an excellent chance of being in the top five again. Anyway, make your own mind up. Here's the top 17.

Dagens Nyheter (Sweden)

Die Welt (Germany)

De Volkskrant (Netherlands)

De Morgen (Belgium)

Excelsior (Mexico)

Folha de São Paulo (Brazil)

The Guardian (UK)

Informação (Portugal)

La Nacion (Argentina)

 Los Angeles Times (US)

The National Post (Canada)

New York Times (US)

Politiken (Denmark)

Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden)

The Grid (Canada)

The Washington Post (US)

Welt am Sonntag (Germany)

Friday, 6 March 2015

Try your hand at this week's newsquiz

There were some good scores in last week's news quiz. The top mark went to Daniel Matthews with 18. Matt Cornish and Alex Murphy both got 17, Natalie Marchant and Ian Parker delivered a joint effort (in the pub no doubt) of 16, Chris Lennon scored 12, Adam Batstone 11 and Jonny Singer an improved 10. I didn't hear from a lot of the regular quizzers ... which usually means they are busy (or didn't do very well). 
Have a crack at this week's. As usual there are 20 questions with five bonus points, so 25 points in all. Let me know how you get on.

Harrison Ford crashes his plane. An updated Sun page from today (Q18)
1. Boris Johnson confronted Asim Qureshi on his radio show after his campaigning group suggested MI5 was to blame for the radicalisation of Mohammed Emwazi. Name Qureshi's campaigning group. Bonus: It was alleged that Emwazi kidnapped two schoolboys in 2008 and dumped them at the side of which road? Bonus: Jamshed Javeed was sent to prison for six years by Woolwich Crown Court for planning to go to Syria. What was Javeed’s job?
2. Why was Nathan Matthews in the headlines?
3. Beautiful South musician Paul Heaton, gay rights campaigners and MP Dennis Skinner are among those attending rallies around the country to mark the 30th anniversary of what?
4. Which fictional character did the parents of three-year-old Amari Black blame for teaching their son to swear?
5. Tony Blair is to donate £1,000 to each of Labour’s 'battleground seats' to help their election campaign. How much is he donating in total?
6. Lara Stone has left her husband David Walliams, taking with her their son and their dog. Name the dog. Bonus: Name the son.
7. The Government announced it is selling its 40 per cent stake in which company to an Anglo-Canadian consortium for £757.1m?
8. According to a survey in the British Medical Journal how long is the average male penis when erect?
9. What does chief executive officer Antony Jenkins want to kill off - saying it would be a ‘step forward’ for customers?
10. What did Martin Le-May capture that went viral and graced the pages of most newspapers? 
11. According to an investigation led by Dr Bill Kirkup, the deaths of 11 babies and one mother at Furness General Hospital were the responsibility of a group of midwives who called themselves  'The …………..’ Fill in the blank word.
12. What did horologist David Mitchell do to mark his retirement?
13. Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse accepted a ban of how many matches for spitting at Manchester United’s Jonny Evans? Bonus: Footballer Adam Johnson was suspended by which club after being arrested on suspicion of having sex with a 15-year-old girl?
14. John Sylvan said he regretted inventing what?
15. Konstandinos Erik Scurfield was killed in which country?
16. Who are the only two unbeaten teams in cricket’s World Cup? Half point for each.
17. Who said: 'My understanding is mourn the dead but celebrate life. I chose to celebrate life by going to the Red Cross gathering in Palm Beach’?
18. Actor Harrison Ford crash-landed his plane on which hole at a golf course in Venice, California? Bonus: How old is Harrison Ford?
19. Who said: 'You can’t actually physically get up… you can’t get off your bed. It is hard to explain, it is like you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders.’
20. Eleven-year-old Liam Scholes was told to adjust the costume he wore for a World Book Day event at his Manchester school. Who was he dressed as?

Answers here

How not to write a news intro

Here's one of the best examples I have ever seen on how not to write a news intro. The reader finds out the name and address of the golf course, the colour of the plane, the fact it is small (twice), the time of the crash (can you have 'about 2.24pm'? It seems a bit precise to me) and the name of the fire department spokesman - all in the first two paragraphs. It isn't until par 3 that we discover the pilot is (drumroll) Harrison Ford. I like drop intros ... but that is just plane (geddit) silly. Hat tip to @CazzaW