Friday, 24 September 2010

This week's newsquiz: an impressive 16 to beat

Well done to Sarah Rainey from the Telegraph who was the clear winner in this week's Newsquiz with an impressive 16 out of 21. The top Mail trainee was Fiona Roberts with 14, the same score as Telegraph trainee Josie Ensor. It's the second consecutive week the Telegraph has pipped the Mail ... but the Mail will no doubt point to their victory in the White Horse quiz on Thursday. It wasn't just about quizzes this week. The Mail subs have been doing feature subbing with Brian Page and advance InDesign and Photoshop with Alison Trueman. The Telegraph's trainees have been honing their writing skills, working from the wire and learning video with Andrew Glover.
While I am handing out the bouquets, well done to Telegraph trainee Raf Sanchez who completed the Great North Run in 1 hour 49 minutes and 20 seconds. See how you do in the quiz; 16 to beat.

The Miliband brothers - see question 16

1. According to Business Secretary Vince Cable .............  and ............. "did more harm to the British economy than Bob Crow." Fill in the gaps (half point for each).
2. Liverpool FC suffered one of the worst  defeats in their recent history on Wednesday by which League Two team?
3. Madonna launched her clothing line at Macy's in New York this week. What is the fashion range called?
4. At which court is the inquest into barrister Mark Saunders being held?
5. What date are the beleaguered Commonwealth Games due to begin?
6. What is the name of the magazine that David Beckham is suing over allegations  that he slept with a prostitute?
7. Who is the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport?
8. Six men were arrested for setting light to the Koran in which Northern town?
9. What was the name of the woman executed in Virginia?
10. Which song and dance man is reuniting with Andrew Lloyd Webber to take the role of the wizard in the Wizard of Oz?
11. President Ahmadinejad of Iran caused a stir at The United Nations General Assembly this week. Which City is hosting the Assembly?
12. The mystery over which song by Kate Bush was supposedly solved after her first boyfriend put a love note from the singer up for sale?
13. Who, with a fortune of £4.4 billion, rose to 35th in the Forbes list of America's wealthiest people?
14. Steve Finn, Tim Bresnan and Chris Tremlett were on which list announced this week?
15. Who owns the Evening Standard?
16. Give the ages of both Miliband brothers. (full point for each)
17. The result of the Labour leadership vote be declared at the Labour party conference tomorrow (Sat). Where is the conference being held?
18. Who is Dave McCabe and why he is in the news.
19. The Chilean miners have now been underground for how many days?
20. The website Ask Jeeves compiled a list of the Top Ten most asked questions which it could not answer. What was the most asked  'unanswerable question?


Saturday, 18 September 2010

Blurb of the week ....

.. definitely goes to the Daily Sun in South Africa. Wonder how many extra copies they sold.

The Tizer: A modest dress, neat but not gaudy

Managing director Joanna Parlby with chairman and
editor-in-chief Roger Parlby examine the Advertiser's new-look

Spent some of the summer working with colleague Mike Brough on a new-look for the Newark Advertiser (the Tizer) to go with its new publication day. The changes were rolled out this month when the weekly changed publication day from Friday to Thursday to give ads a longer shelf life. The changes also had an impact on sales, early figures showing an 11 per cent week-on-week increase. Very rewarding. The redesign was a delicate operation. The veteran chairman and editor-in-chief Roger Parlby has deep knowledge of design and typography principles and had a clear view of the evolutionary approach the Advertiser needed. The changes we introduced had to be subtle. The masthead retains its Ultra Bodoni typeface, but is enlarged with a shadow while splash heading caps are dropped in favour of lower case Century Bold. Sport takes over the back page, feature pages follow a magazine format and news pages now have a modular treatment with smaller lower-case headings. It is always great to work with family-run independent newspapers where those who are empowered to make the decisions also have a love for the paper and its history. The Advertiser was no exception. The paper's editorial, in the relaunch edition, summed up the changes nicely: A refreshed Advertiser strives to please relying on the solid foundation of years long gone. Samuel Wesley said it all way back in 1700 when he wrote: 'Style is the dress of thought, a modest dress neat but not gaudy will true critics please.' Editor Chris Prime and MD Joanna Parlby were also very happy with the changes. Joanna wrote: I am delighted with your work on our paper. The changes are subtle but make all the difference to the paper’s evolution. A fresh approach to page layout and design brings the product up-to-date and makes its read a better experience all round.” It was our pleasure - working with dedicated and genuinely nice people with real journalistic values whose motivation is to keep both readers and advertisers happy. The sort of work we would happily do every day.  

Busy trainees still read the papers. Do you?

Mail trainees Jennie Agg, Alex Richman and 
Dawn Wheatley studying the papers in detail
 outside the Manor in Howden

Anna Croall, Ben Winstanley and Fiona Roberts 
analyse the Mail's news agenda 

Trainers Mike Watson and Andy Drinkwater with Telegraph trainees Donna Bowater, Emily Gosden, Raf Sanchez, Josie Ensor, Sarah Rainey and Matthew Holehouse

Busy week in Howden with appearances by Daily Mirror editor Richard Wallace and Daily Telegraph digital editor Ed Roussel. Ed gave both Telegraph and Mail trainees an overview of the changing media landscape and told them in the digital age they would be their own brands - something they should carry with them throughout their careers. An intense week of subbing for the Mail trainees. We finished the week, as usual, with a newsquiz to make sure they are all reading the papers in detail. Congratulations to the Telegraph's Donna Bowater with 15.5 and Jennie Agg, top Mail trainee, with 14. See if you can do better. 


1. Which loyalist paramilitary leader was shot dead through negligence - and not through collusion between the state and Republican gunmen?
2. What was the name of the shop that George Michael ploughed into in Hampstead while spaced out on cannabis?
3. The Chairman of the BBC Trust and the BBC 1 Controller both resigned this week. A point for each of their names. 
4. Who is Tony McGuirk and why did he make the headlines?
5. Why was Eileen Nearne in the news? 
6. Lady Gaga dressed up in raw meat for which event?
7. Who is the Justice Secretary ?
8. The Pope is visiting Britain ... add the Roman numerals, that come after his name, to his age and give the total. (One trainee gave the answer in Roman numerals .. impressive).
9. Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre will be pleased to see the back of this man when he leaves office at the end of the month. Dacre described him as 'arrogant' and 'amoral'. He was also accused of using the Human Rights act to to create a "privacy law by the back door." Who is he?
10. A 33-year-old mother was given a suspended six-month sentence for allowing her dogs to starve and neglecting her two children, because she was obsessed with which online game?
11. Which famous tourist attraction was evacuated this week?
12. Which Silicon Valley based service had its first revamp in four years?
13. Oprah Winfrey is celebrating her last show by taking her entire audience where?
14. Bill Clinton presented Tony Blair with which award?
15. How much has PC David Rathband, a victim of Raoul Moat, been awarded as his weekly mobility allowance?
16. Jamie Oliver has finally produced a son and heir. What is his full name?
17. Three women executives are suing which bank, claiming they were forced out of their jobs by a boys' club culture of sex discrimination? 
18. Who is the current longest-serving editor of a British national newspaper (both daily and Sunday)?
19. What disease is to be tackled by a proposed cull of 5,000 badgers?
20. Who was Peter Connelly better known as?
21. What is the name of the hairdressers on the corner by the Manor House in Howden (I appreciate this is pretty tough if you have never been to Howden).


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Extraordinary story of the cowgirls in the garden

I am forever showing young reporters how to scour local newspapers, church magazines, classified advertising and their own library for stories and follow-ups. These days they also have to follow Tweets, blogs and a lot more besides. TweetDeck is a good research tool too. It takes a fair bit of legwork and constant monitoring but it's worth it for the gems you can uncover. I have a list of examples that we use on news writing courses, including:
  • The girl whose life was saved by a tin of pineapple chunks (carried in a weekly paper as a 'nobody hurt in car crash' short).
  • The 52-year-old woman who had first time twins (spotted as a throw away line in a newspaper report about a row over the appointment of a hospital anaesthetist).
  • The girl celebrating her 21st birthday on the anniversary of her father's death (from a library cutting about a disaster 21 years ago).
  • The footballer who scored 14 goals and was still on the losing side (from a three par filler on an inside sports page).
The list is almost endless.
I was amused therefore by the story (above) in The Sun and how it came about. Its origination goes back to April and the blog of occasional Press Association Training colleague Andrew Glover. There's a fair bit of licence from the Sun and the story is a trifle old but it's a real insight into the way newspapers work. Andrew tells the story on his blog, Questing Vole. Definitely worth a read.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Gunners missing a gladiator

Enjoyed putting together the Irish Examiner's 32-page Champions League curtainraiser with colleagues Mike Brough and Paul Wick. Fantastic sporting commitment again from the paper. I was really pleased with the cover - but finding a gladiatorial Englishman from each of our Champions League club's was a tall order, especially after Defoe was laid low. Arsenal was particularly tough, as you might imagine. Most pictures of Theo Walcott are more gladioli than gladiator. Great cover by Paul though ... and a really good read once more by the Examiner.

Is it just the technology to blame?

Thanks to Jon Slattery for highlighting another headline gaff. Lots of those who picked up on it assumed it was the cursed Johnston Press Atex system at play again. But the Evening Times in Glasgow isn't a Johnston title at all. It belongs to Newsquest. Does that suggest that it isn't just the system but, as I said in my Press Gazette article last month, human error? I concluded that while there are, of course, different standards of equipment, technology will always just be a tool. "It doesn’t make bad journalism. Only people do that." Not everyone agreed and I had plenty of responses from JP journalists insisting the system was under-specced. They are expecting us to climb Everest in flip-flops, was the general consensus. Maybe. At first I had assumed (always a dangerous thing to do) that Newsquest in Scotland wasn't using the Atex system but it transpires it is. So maybe the technology is playing a big part in this after all. Meanwhile, over at another JP title, this time the Scarborough Evening News, there was this ...
Wherever the problem lies there needs to be a bit of human intervention until it is resolved. Back in the day, when I was an editor, we used to check the first copies off the press before the full run began. Strikes me that it wouldn't take much to have someone, not necessarily a journalist, at least checking the headlines, pictures and dateline ...surely be worth it to save credibility and stop the embarrassment.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Mail trainees and the news challenge

At Derry Street for the last two weeks working with seven very bright Mail trainees. It is the third year the Mail's reporting diploma has run and it was fantastic to see former trainees now established as regular bylines. Fay Schlesinger is doing a stint as royal corr, Claire Ellicott has spent a fruitful week on the Rooney saga and Laura Williamson is a fixture on the sports pages. I also bumped into trainees from decades ago, including reporter Sam Greenhill and assistant editor Keith Poole. Richard Edwards, now crime correspondent on the Telegraph, and Matt Chorley on the Sindy joined us at the Elephant and Castle too. The Mail's Magnificent Seven have now left London for a stint on the regionals and I am on my way to Howden to work on the paper's subbing scheme. Best of luck to them all. We finished with the usual newsquiz. Well done Mark Duell, who was top this week with 12.5 out of 21, and John Stevens who collected the Sauvignon Blanc for the best average over the two weeks. It was definitely a low scoring week, see if you can do any better.
Where will the Pope be landing? (see Q 6)

1. Terry Jones is the pastor planning to burn a copy of the Koran. Where is his church (you need town and state to get one point) 

2. David Alvand of Plymouth planted 16 leylandii Cypress trees which have grown to 35ft but why was he in the news in 2003?
3. In which city did David Cameron's father, Ian, die?
4. Which newspaper launched a perfume this week and what is it called (need both answers to get one point; half each)
5. Who did Eamonn Holmes refer to as Miss Stratosphere?
6. The Pope is due in the UK next Thursday. Into which city will he arrive?
7. Why was Robert Hall in the news this week?
8. What song did X-factor favourite Cher Lloyd sing last Saturday?
9. It is the 70th anniversary of what on September 15th?
10. What is the constituency of Foreign Secretary William Hague?
11. Why did Gary Higgs say he killed his girlfriend Jo Kitchen?
12. Who is the Secretary of State for Health? 
13. Where was Jennifer Thompson, aka Juicy Jenny, born? 
14. What was the name of the other girl involved in the Wayne Rooney threesome?
15. Who is the editor of the News of the World?
16. England beat Bulgaria and Switzerland in their first two Euro 2012 qualifying games. Their next game is against another unbeaten side. Who?
17. The chairman of which bank is to take over as an unpaid Government trade minister? For a bonus, name him.
18. Which snooker player was cleared of match fixing?
19. Who is the oldest contestant in the forthcoming Strictly Come Dancing programme?
20. The RMT called a Tube strike in London on Tuesday this week. What does RMT stand for?


Thursday, 2 September 2010

Try your hand at this week's news quiz

Delivered a newsquiz to the Daily Mail trainees at the end of today's session. Bit of fun but the serious side is to ensure they read newspapers in detail, not just as scanners. Scratch cards to Lydia Warren and Laurie Whitwell who were top, each with 14 out of 21. Try it - no cheating - and see if you can beat them!

1. Who are the publishers of Tony Blair's book A Journey?
2. What was the name of Blair's constituency throughout his entire time in parliament?
3. Which former footballer's son-in-law was killed by standing on a sea urchin.
4. Spell Willam Hague's wife's name.
5. What is Paul McKenna interested in buying? 
6. Why was St Endellion in the news?
7. Who is the Works and Pensions Secretary?
8. Name the Irish Taoiseach.
9. James Harding edits which national newspaper?
10. Why was the owner of non-league football club Croydon FC in the news? 
For a bonus ... name him.
11. Julie Burchill writes for which national newspaper?
12. Which model car has been recalled after bursting into flames? 
13. Michael Douglas has cancer of the what?  
14. What is the name of Ben Collins' book that seeks to reveal the name of the Stig? 
15. How old is Elisany Silva, the Indian girl who has reached a height of 6ft 9?
16. Which newspaper this week threw its weight behind David Miliband in the Labour leadership contest? 
17. J.K. Rowling gave £10m to research into which disease? 
18. Who is Wendy Chapman ... and why was she in the news?
19. Which desert are the 33 Chilean miners trapped under? 
20. Two dozen cars were burnt out in a carpark. Where?

The answers.