Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Is this what we call a Cole-fest?

Is there anything we don’t know about Cheryl Cole? Never mind the X-Factor, anyone who avidly read the red tops last Sunday could adopt her as their Mastermind subject:

Cheryl: My malaria crusade (Mirror)
Its war. With Nadine (News of the World)
I feel guilty that Ash is hated (People)

All on page one. The Mirror even splashed on theirs. Piss-poor on a slow week but there you go.

At least the tab-mags got closer to a real story by turning their attention to her new man.

Its too soon. Why cheryl turned down Derek’s proposal (Reveal)
Cheryl smothered by insecure Derek (Closer)

At least the Star tried to put us out of our misery:

Cheryl and Derek; what's really going on (Star)

And some of us wondered what we'd do in the silly season when Diana died...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More reasons to hate footballers

Southampton have become the latest football club to shoot itself in the foot, banning photographers from games and trying to flog their own pictures to newspapers.

Southampton Echo editor Neal Butterworth rightly told them where to go and was backed by the Bournemouth Daily Echo when their teams met in a cup game on Tuesday.

Daily Echo Sports editor Neil Meldrum told the club’s chairman Nicola CorteseIf: “Newspapers hate one thing, it is the greed of people like you and we press people tend to stick together in defiance of arrogance.”

Well, he’s not wrong. I was hoping to nip off to Wembley to boo the rag-tag gathering we call England. The money may be better spent going to the Saints (sic) and snapping off the most embarrassing Pictures of Southampton players possible.

That wouldn't match the Sun's response, though. Their headline of the game: South Coast Team 2, Bournemouth 0. Keep them coming...

Thursday, August 05, 2010

One way to air your secrets

Here’s technology in action. I just heard my name mentioned on J-Net radio. The Livingston’s World presenter had asked causally if I wanted her to play a request. I said, sure, let’s have Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin. It reminded me of when I fell for a young dancer in Paris as a kid in the 70s.

An hour later, after humming along to pop royalty, Life on Mars came on and the studio discussion turned to David Bowie. No-one seemed to recall his son’s name. Zac? Zebedee? Dunno; sod’s law we’ll all remember after the show.

I sent a text to presenter Sharron Livingston (above) saying: you’ll kick yourself. It’s Zowie! How do I remember that. Pure coincidence, I confided. His dad shared a brief “moment” with the very girl I fell for in Paris. “He was a rising star,” I lamented. “I was just falling…”

Sorted, I thought. At least it’ll give her a chuckle on the way home.

. . . except that I heard her mobile beep on air moments after I sent it. "Ah, I've got a text," she said.

How many listeners do they have?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Errors to bring you down to earth

Flying back from Spain on Sunday I worked my way through a patchwork Mail on Sunday and thought “there for the grace of God” as a pagination slip-up had rendered parts of the airport bulk edition unreadable with pages either out of kilter or repeated.

Then again, when the alternative is the High Life you read on the way out, it’s excusable.

I can’t say the same for the latest series of unforgivable cock-ups that have made their way into the Telegraph of late, as highlighted by Simon Heffer’s latest missive to staff.

His 1021-word round-robin email begins by pointing out the usual (but massively important to their readers) errors in addressing military ranks, went on to point out that someone had confused endocrinology (the study of the body’s endocrine system. I knew that) with dendrochronology, (the study of dating trees. OK, I lied) before exposing the classic howler of calling Sir David Attenborough a naturist instead of a naturalist.

“We are quality media,” he wrote. “And quality media do not make mistakes such as these: ‘the luck of the drawer’, ‘through the kitchen sink’, ‘through up’, ‘dragging their heals’ and ‘slammed on the breaks’, all of which are clich├ęs that might not be worthy of a piece of elegant writing even if spelt correctly.”

He put most of them down to “carelessness and not properly reading back what one has written”, before adding the classic: “We managed to perpetrate one of the worst literals of all recently – pubic for public - which may seem a laughing matter, but is not.”

He’s right. It’s not. But I’m not sure I’d put it totally down to carelessness. Ask any sub and they’ll tell you: most writers are careless, which is why many of the old middle benches used to have a file into which they would cut and paste the worst offenders (an thereby spare their collective sanity).

Combine that with the dodgy way copy is input – directly into the escenic web-facing system and not via the print-facing DTI database, by-passing the subs at an early stage – and it’s a recipe for disaster.

More worryingly, silly word cock-ups aside, readers are beginning to notice errors of sense that would be spotted by anyone giving a second read, be it a sub, prodnose, news editor or a passing intern looking for something to do.

Thus: “We wrote about someone’s youngest child being her first, which was obviously not the case. And readers also asked us how there could, as we reported, be an 18-month long investigation into a crime that was committed only 14 months ago. We need to ensure that our facts, like our arithmetic, add up.”

They do. They really do.