Friday, 30 December 2016

It's time for a break ... and this week's newsquiz

Last week's highest solo scorer in the newsquiz was Liz Gerard with 15 and the top team score was 17.5 by The Penmans. Well done to both. As usual at Christmas, it has been a scrappy old newsweek but there is certainly plenty going on. I appreciate many of you will have not had the news agenda as your priority in the last few days but give this week's quiz a go and let me know how you get on. Happy New Year to you all ... let's hope 2017 is just as newsy without being quite so grim. 

Mother and daughter Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher who both died this week (Question 3)
1. What was announced by Russia and confirmed by Turkey?
2. The US expelled how many Russian diplomats as punishment for alleged interference into the presidential elections, giving them 72 hours to leave?
3. Debbie Reynolds’ son Todd Fisher posted an illustration depicting characters from two famous movies. Name the movies. 
4. BBC Four announced a schedule shake-up so that it could dedicate a whole night on Friday (tonight) to whom?
5. Jeremy Corbyn said Theresa May was behaving like which monarch over her refusal to commit to giving Parliament a say on Brexit?
6. According to Cabinet papers from the 1980s released this week Margaret Thatcher tried to ban which events - saying: 'If this is a new 'fashion' we must be prepared for it and preferably prevent such things from starting’?
7. Who turned down an OBE saying, among other things, that he could not accept an honour tied in name to the 'British Empire’?
8. Lawyers for 36 children launched a legal challenge claiming the British Government has reneged on the Dubs Amendment. Where did the children previously live?
9. A suspected killer who attempted to emulate the Berlin lorry attack went on the run after allegedly beheading a woman and her daughter in which country?
10. Which act topped the Forbes list of the highest paid European celebrities in 2016, bringing in £89.9million over 12 months?
11. Transport minister Andrew Jones said allowing learner drivers to do what would help make roads in Britain safer?
12. Who was taken to hospital with a broken skull and needed 11 stitches after being kicked down a staircase during a drunken row at a London hotel?
13. Kevin Crehan, 35, who was jailed for putting bacon on the doors of a mosque, was found dead in which prison?
14. Bradley Wiggins posted a statement on his Instagram page announcing his retirement saying: ‘Kids from ____ don't win Olympic Golds and Tour de Frances! They do now.’ What is the missing word?
15. He once admitted spending £1,000 a week on cocaine, another £500 on vodka and said that the drowning of his two-year-old daughter led to the breakdown of his first marriage. Who is he?
16. The Professional Footballers’ Association has called on the game’s authorities to consider banning children under ten from doing what?
17. Hundreds of drivers were give £30 parking tickets after an app wrongly told motorists they could park for free on Tuesday in which city?
18. A Government-commissioned review recommended that child criminals should be given what?
19. Alexis Ohanian, whose engagement to tennis star Serena Williams was announced this week, is co-founder of what?
20. Seventeen people were hurt when a coach veered off which motorway slip road and overturned in heavy fog?
21. What did the Queen not do on Christmas Day for the ‘first time in many years’?
22. What happened to Liverpool footballer Roberto Firmino in the early hours of Christmas Eve?
23. A report by Public Health England and Oxford University academics found that what percentage of people aged 40 to 60 are overweight, inactive or drink too much?
24. He was born in Newbury in 1920 and worked as a civil servant until age 52 when he suddenly became famous for publishing a story he told to keep his children entertained on long car journeys. Who is he?
25. The World Wildlife Fund announced which animal had been moved off the 'endangered’ list?

Answers here

Friday, 23 December 2016

Here's your Christmas challenge - the newsquiz

Massacre at the Christmas market in Berlin (Questions 1-4)
Last week's newsquiz certainly proved to be a challenge. Quiz scores of more than 20 have regularly been submitted in recent weeks but last week's highest was Gavin Devine with 14, narrowly beating Mike Lowe on 13. Toby Brown scored 12.5 while usual high scorers Janet Boyle, Liz Gerard and Ian Watt mustered only 12 each. Damon Wake, who two weeks ago was running around the office doing a Shearer salute after scoring 21, scored 7.5. All credit to him for posting though. Lots of regular news-quizzers tend to 'disappear' when their scores are low. The Penman Partnership and the Batstone Collective - so often the top teams - both scored 11. I am not sure it is any easier this week. I was going to make it light and festive but the news, I'm afraid, has been as grim as ever. Anyway, here it is. As usual there are 25 questions about the week. Give it a go and let me know how you get on. And whether you are working or playing I hope you have a cracking, and safe, Christmas. 

Shooting in Turkey (Question 5)
1. What was the name of the Christmas market in Berlin where a terrorist truck killed 12 people?
2. What was the name of the Polish driver who was found dead in the cab of the truck?
3. After the attack at the Berlin market Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders tweeted a provocative photo of Angela Merkel with what?
4. Berlin terror suspect Anis Amri was shot dead in which city?
5. How old was Mevlut Mert Altıntas who shot dead the Russian ambassador in a Turkish art gallery?
6. A man who shot and wounded three people at an Islamic centre was later found dead in which city?
7. All flights in and out of which country were cancelled after a hijacked plane landed at its airport?
8. Andy Murray became the first person to win Sports Personality of the Year three times … but who came second and third in this year's awards? Half point for each name. 
9. The prosecutor’s office in the German City of Offenburg said 'an unknown person' had taken photographs and was offering them for 'high amounts of money’. What did the pictures show?
10. Matthew Gordon and Peter Wood were found guilty of manslaughter for causing the death of four people. How did the four die?
11. Why was property developer Peter Morgan in the headlines?
12. Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen will step down as patron of how many national organisations at the end of this year?
13. The Lord Chief Justice refused to grant bail to Alexander Blackman, who is serving life for the murder of an Afghan fighter, ahead of an appeal against his conviction. How was Blackman referred to in initial hearings?
14. Dick Van Dyke says he will appear in a sequel to a 1964 film in which he co-starred with Julie Andrews. What is the name of the sequel?
15. Who suffered knife wounds to her left hand after an intruder broke into her home?
16. The European Court of Justice ruled that  the ‘general and _________ retention' of emails and electronic communications by governments is illegal. What is the missing word?
17. Who said: 'This past election was challenging for me as a citizen to watch and experience. It was painful.’
18. At least 35 people were killed in an explosion that ripped through a large fireworks market in which country?
19. He had a slot on BBC Radio 4’s Thought for Today for nearly 30 years, was awarded the OBE for services to broadcasting and was described as 'God's best PR man in Britain’. Name him?
20. London mayor Sadiq Khan called on the Government to give him emergency control of what?
21. Why did Fifa fine all four home nation football teams? 
22. Where did Alana Spencer beat Courtney Wood?
23. Which union suspended planned strikes by British Airways cabin crew on Christmas Day and Boxing Day?
24. Zsa Zsa Gabor, who died this week, famously said: 'I don’t believe in living in sin, so I always got married’. How many weddings did she have?
25. The Met Office issued severe weather warnings as two storms threatened some parts of Britain over Christmas. What are the storms called? Half a point for each name.

Answers here

Friday, 16 December 2016

Have a crack at this week's newsquiz

The top solo score in last week's newsquiz was an impressive 18 by Liz Gerard. The top team was the Penmans who scored 18.5 but only after they had recruited the help of daughter Daisy. Here is this week's quiz. As usual there are 25 questions about the week's events. Let me know how you get on.  

The Independent on Aleppo - 'A complete meltdown of humanity'
1. Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the crisis in Aleppo was 'a tragedy of _____ making’. What is the missing word?
2. Home Secretary Amber Rudd outlawed which organisation under the Terrorism Act 2000 branding it 'racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic’?
3. He served as Employment Secretary, Northern Ireland Secretary, stood against Margaret Thatcher in the 1975 Tory party leadership and was regarded as ‘a wet’. Who is he?
4. Talks between Southern Rail and Aslef at Acas ended in deadlock. What does Aslef stand for?
5. Donal Billings was jailed for planting a bomb on a bus and threatening to blow up which castle during a visit by the Queen?
6. President Barack Obama vowed to take action against Russia for its alleged interference in what?
7. Which company said more than one billion user accounts may have been affected in a hacking attack dating back to 2013?
8. Prince Harry was photographed with girlfriend Meghan Markle, for the first time together, in Piccaddilly on his way to which West End show?
9. In a speech at the Foreign Office's Christmas party, Boris Johnson, said: 'We are so cosmopolitan that we drink more champagne, buy more German cars than anyone else and our wonderful Prime Minister wears ________.’ What is the missing word?
10. Former BBC weatherman Ian McCaskill died after a five-year battle with dementia. How old was he?
11. Who said people screamed and threw fireworks at her in the street, adding 'I deserve everything I get really’?
12. More than 40 people were killed outside a stadium in Istanbul before a football match between which two teams? Half a point each.
13. Which former footballer pledged £500,000 worth of toys and gifts to the Cash for Kids children's charity?
14. Hundreds of people were evacuated as firefighters tackled a huge blaze at a former cotton mill in which town?
15. Which European country's Civil Contingencies Agency sent out a letter to local authorities telling them they must be equipped to respond to the threat of war?
16. Jockey Walter Swinburn, who died aged 55, rode the Derby winner three times - on Shahrastani in 1986 and Lammtarra in 1995. Name the other horse and the year. Half a point for the name and half for the year.
17. Four men from Derby, a woman from London and man from which town were arrested on suspicion of offences under the Terrorism Act?
18. Stormtroopers were pictured descending on London to celebrate the release of the new Star Wars film. What is it called?
19. Why was 27-year-old Lizzie Velasquez in the headlines?
20. According to a poll of Radio Times readers what is Britain’s favourite Christmas film?
21. Who tried to defuse a public family spat by saying: 'This is getting to the point where they will lose a son and a husband. I've had enough’?
22. What event was described as a historical watershed 'like the birth of Christ, the revelation of the Quran, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the two world wars'?
23. A BBC investigation uncovered a people smuggling gang charging £5,000 to take people across the Channel in the back of which company's lorries?
24. How much was National Lottery operator Camelot fined by the gambling watchdog for paying out on a 'deliberately damaged ticket'?
25. Tory MP Peter Bone was scolded by the Speaker John Bercow for flouting Parliament's strict rules. What did he do?
Answers here

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Shorthand Sylvia outlines a new future

A final outline from Sylvia
(I trust you can all read it!)
One of the giants of the newspaper industry retired today. Sylvia Bennett, as many of you will know, wasn’t one of the big-name editors or investigative reporters … but her role was just as important. Sylvia was the person who gave essential skills to many of today’s best journalists. She was their shorthand teacher. 
Sylvia’s great strength - apart from the fact she could teach Pitman, Teeline and keyboarding - was that she was the strictest disciplinarian. She suffered no fools, knew when you were slacking and accepted no excuses. Yet despite her tough regime, she was loved and respected by all her trainees (and her colleagues). 
Sylvia, of course, also got fantastic results. If anyone could get you to a 100wpm in record time, it was Sylvia. 
She started working with journalists on the Westminster Press course in 1980. Fifteen years later when I bought the training centre in Hastings from WP, and turned it into the Editorial Centre, she came with me. When I sold it to the Press Association in 2007, she continued to work on PA’s London course. She must have trained at least 2,000 journalists - probably more. Among them are some big names … Andy Coulson, David Yelland, Rachel Johnson, Gillian Tett, Ed Conway and too many others to mention.
When I worked with Sylvia her professionalism meant I was always confident that trainees had their best chance of leaving our courses with 100 words. She was the ace card when persuading editors that we had the right course for their staff. 
That success rate continued right through to her last session today. Fiona Webster, who runs the PA course, said: 'I have never worked with anyone who inspires such affection - and awe - as Sylvia. I've watched trainees tower over her, yet quake at her feet. Her professionalism and commitment are obvious in her teaching, but she is also compassionate, honest, intuitive and kind. And a joy to work with. Thousand of journalists have benefitted from her teaching and common sense. Her retirement is a real loss to the industry.’
I can’t really believe Sylvia is retiring - and neither can she. 'I must admit I feel too young to retire and thoroughly enjoy the work,' she said today. The reason behind the move is that she is going to live in the Midlands. But she is already wondering about teaching opportunities there. We may not have seen the last of her yet. 
Good luck Sylvia. It was professional, it was successful, at times it was tough … but it was always a pleasure.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Here's this week's newsquiz ... give it a go

There were some very high scores in last week's newsquiz. Maybe it was easier that usual - or maybe you are all reading the news more forensically. The top scorers were Liz Gerard and Damon Wake with a record-breaking 21. Damon posted his score on Twitter saying 'Runs round office doing Shearer salute'. Given that it is a UK-based quiz, and he is based in Paris, that is an impressive performance. Alex Murphy scored 18, Lydia Willgress and Mike Lowe, 17 and Ginger Elvis and Natalie Marchant, 16. The top team score was 20 by Adam and Lucy of the Batstone Dream Team. Here is this week's quiz - a little more challenging I hope. As usual there are 25 questions about the week. Let me know how you get on.  

Brexit dominates the Telegraph headlines (Questions 1 to 3) 
1. How many MPs, including Kenneth Clarke, did not vote to commit the Government to triggering Article 50 by the end of March?
2. Theresa May called for a ‘red, white and blue Brexit’ while on board HMS Ocean in which country?
3. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said, on Peston on Sunday, that certain people should be excluded from the net migration numbers because they are ‘of massive benefit to this country’? Which people was he talking about?
4. Boris Johnson told a conference in Italy that Saudi Arabia and Iran were 'playing _____ wars’. What is the missing word?
5. Far-right candidate Norbert Hofer described himself as 'infinitely sad' after losing which country’s presidential election?
6. Who resigned as Italian prime minister after being defeated in a referendum to change the constitution?
7. Which two drug firms were fined nearly £90million by the competition watchdog for ‘unfair' pricing to the NHS? Half a point for each
8. Which Scottish MP reduced MPs to tears when she revealed in the Commons that she had been raped at 14?
9. Chief executive Bimlendra Jha said: 'I think it's the grit and determination of the employees that has made the difference and people have really contributed’. Which company’s employees was he talking about?
10. The last of the Navy’s Invincible-class aircraft carriers left Portsmouth to be scrapped in Turkey. What is the ship's name?
11. A 26-year-old Birmingham man, Zakaria Boufassil, was found guilty of giving £3,000 to Paris and Brussels terror suspect Mohamed Abrini. What nickname was Abrini widely known by? 
12. Who succeeded Darren Clarke as Europe Ryder Cup captain?
13. Why was Helen Marten in the headlines?
14. Police said that 83 suspects had been identified in connection with allegations of child sexual abuse in football. What is the police operation called?
15. British actor Peter Vaughan, best known for roles in Game of Thrones and Porridge, died at the age of 93. What were the names of the characters he played in each programme. Half a point for each
16. Complete the sequence: Pope Francis (2013), Ebola fighters (2014), Angela Merkel (2015)
17. He was born in Bournemouth in 1947, played bass for a 70s supegroup and reached No 2 in the UK charts with a Christmas hit. Who is he?
18. John Glenn, who died age 95, became a national hero when he was the first American to orbit the Earth … in what year?
19. List the top four parties (in order) in the Sleaford and North Hykenham by-election result
20. Eleven-year-old Cruz Beckham received a mixed reception for releasing a festive song. What is the song called?
21. Micro-artist Graham Short engraved tiny portraits on four new five pound notes - raising their value to a potential £20,000. Whose portrait did he engrave?
22. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which animal faces extinction after a 38 per cent decline since 1985, their numbers falling from about 157,000 to 97,500?
23. Who wore wore colourful ties this week including one with a piano keyboard pattern and one with a 2012 Team GB Olympic design?
24. Who was visibly shocked when his wife told him he had been called a  ‘f****** lower middle class snob’ on television?
25. Melanie Hamrick gave birth to a baby boy. Who is the father?
Answers here

Monday, 5 December 2016

Daily Mail and MailOnline looking for trainees

The Daily Mail group is once again recruiting trainee journalists. Since 2003 I have been training sub-editors for the paper and since 2007 I have been training reporters. Four years ago we started a course for online journalists. This year’s intake, apart from those destined for MailOnline and the Daily Mail in London, included 14 trainees for in New York and eight for Daily Mail Australia in Sydney. There were also two trainees on the Stephen Lawrence scholarship. Many graduates of the courses are now seniors at the Mail. The investigative team is made up of former trainees, Larisa Brown is defence correspondent; John Stevens, who was Brussels correspondent, started his new job as Whitehall editor today; Lara King is associate Femail editor; Martha Kelner is the Mail on Sunday’s athletics correspondent; Alex Richman is assistant night editor; Jennie Agg is associate features editor - to name but a few. Every department at the newspapers and online is staffed by ex-trainees. Many who trained in the UK are now working in New York and Sydney.

The 2016 MailOnline trainees from the UK and America at Derry Street

The training is a real investment by DMGT. The successful applicants spend between two and four weeks training in the Mail’s London offices and are then placed at regional newspapers and agencies before returning to the Mail the following year. It is hard work that requires real commitment. If you don’t want to work shifts, nights and weekends then it isn’t the job for you. 
The training will begin in August and September 2017, so is suitable for those graduating this academic year. 

The 2016 newspaper trainees 
The deadline for applications is February 10 - but we would appreciate it if you could apply well before then. If you are interested, send a covering letter, your CV and three examples of your work to Sue Ryan at In the subject of your email please put your name and the position you are applying for ie subbing, print reporting or online. 
There are vacancies for trainee reporters and subs (both news and sport) on the newspapers and journalists (news and sport) at MailOnline. Details are on Hold The Front PageIf you are applying you might want to take a look at my advice on how to prepare for an interview. Good luck.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Give this week's newsquiz a go

Well done to Nick Martin who was ‘in raptures’ after scoring a massive 19 in last week’s newsquiz. Other high scorers were Mike Lowe with 18; Adam Batstone, on a rare solo outing, Jessica McKay and Janet Boyle all scored 16 and Ginger Elvis 15. The top team score was by my Friday night drinking pals in The Plough who scored 20. Elsewhere Eleanor Hayward and Xantha Leatham; Lydia Willgress and James Dunn and Penmans United all scored 15. Here’s this week’s quiz. As usual there are 25 questions about the week’s events. Give it a go and let me know how you get on. 

Crash in the jungle (Question 8)

1. Who defeated Zac Goldsmith in the Richmond Park by-election?
2. Which football club faces disciplinary action after ‘secretly’ settling a complaint from a former youth player over alleged historical abuse by former scout Eddie Heath?
3. Eric Bristow was sacked by Sky Sports after writing on social media: ‘If some football coach was touching me when I was a kid as I got older I would have went back and sorted that ____ out.’ What is the missing word? 
4. Where were Alan Duncan, Emily Thornberry,  Robert Mugabe, Alexis Tsipras, Gerry Adams and Spain's ex-King Juan Carlos this week?
5. François Hollande became the first sitting president in modern French history to do what?
6. Why was Julia Dockerill in the headlines?

7. Princess Beatrice sliced Ed Sheeran's face with a sword when attempting to 'knight’ whom during a party prank?
8. What was the name of the football team that was almost completely wiped out by a plane crash in Colombia?
9. Abdul Razak Ali Artan was shot dead after ramming his car into a crowd and injuring 11 people with a butcher’s knife at which university?
10. Who was found unconscious at a Novotel Hotel in Stevenage and taken to hospital?
11. ITV News journalist Mark Austin told of his teenager daughter’s battle with what illness?
12. New Ukip leader Paul Nuttall denied his own website's claim that he played professional football for which team?
13. What did Prince Harry and Rihanna do together in the Bahamas?
14. Theresa May discussed Brexit, defence and Russia with Beata Szydlo in Downing Street. Who is Beata Szydlo?
15. Who said of Theresa May: 'We have a female prime minister here in the UK. I actually really like her and think she’s wonderful’?
16. The Bank of England upset vegans when it confirmed the new £5 notes contained a substance made from animal fat. What is the substance called?
17. Joe Bartley made headlines by landing a job at the Cantina Kitchen and Bar in Paignton. How old is he?
18. A misconduct hearing was told that Manchester Assistant Chief Constable Rebekah Sutcliffe told a junior colleague she was 'silly, vain and frivolous' for doing what?
19. Who said on Twitter: 'I’ve had the most fabulous three months’ but added it was the right time to go?
20. Nicole Kidman, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Penelope Cruz and Julianne Moore are among 14 Hollywood actresses to appear make-up free where?

21. Forty-eight skeletons were discovered in an extremely rare 14th-century Black Death burial pit site in which county?
22. He was born Andreas Siegfried in Berlin in 1930, his family fled to London to escape the Nazis, he was assistant stage manager at a Bexhill theatre and became famous by speaking broken-English. Who is he?
23. A man wielding an axe was shot twice by police in which city?
24. What record did footballer Ben Woodburn take from Michael Owen?
25. Which company is to make 500 cups for autistic 13-year-old Ben Carter?

Answers here