Monday, 27 February 2012

Shop not open till later - shock

Here is a cracking non-story from the Mid Sussex Times to add to our growing list. Apparently early morning shoppers who turned up at Boots in Hayward Heath today found the shop hadn't opened. There was a note on the door saying there was no pharmacist available and the store would open as soon as a locum arrived. What we really want to know, of course, is what misfortune has befallen the chemist. Meanwhile I have just realised the shop in my village had a note on the door today saying 'Gone for lunch, back in 30 minutes'. What a missed opportunity. I'm just off to take a picture and call the newsdesk ...  
Other fabulous non-stories can be found here and here.
Hat-tip to Daily Mail City reporter @Petercampbell1 for this.

Since I posted this, former Telegraph crime correspondent @richdjedwards has sent me this picture. He says he popped into his bank at Clifton and spotted this sign. He is now awaiting a commission from the Bristol Evening Post ... 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Ten thoughts about the Sun on Sunday

There really are no big surprises. The Sun on Sunday is just the same as the Sun on Saturday (and not too different from every other day). The typography, design, tone and masthead are all instantly recognisable. Even Dear Deidre has had to give up her day off. Fabulous magazine is so much a direct lift that it still carries yesterday's dateline. There are subtle differences though. I doubt a weekday Sun would devote five early pages to the Amanda Holden interview ... and there isn't a single nipple in sight. This is definitely not a resurrected News of The World, this is The Sun. It's a safe post-Leveson tabloid newspaper, that will do its job of filling a gap in the popular Sunday market. I was hoping for something newsier, something that had a meaningful investigation, that set the agenda for the week. But the Murdoch strategy is clear. If you have the market leader six days a week, why not seven? It will no doubt sell ... and as journalists we should applaud any newspaper launch. Anyway, for those of you with nothing better to do, here are my ten random thoughts on today's first issue.

i) There isn't a F*** Me Doris or Cor F*** Me story - or even a truly classic Sun headline. The cleverest is 'HERE COM&S THE SUN' about the Beatles' song being chosen for an M&S advert. After that, 'Piggy Beck ride,' above a picture of Harper Seven on her dad's shoulders, is about as good as it gets. 

ii) The most graphic headline of the day is without doubt 'I heard splash ... it was Amanda's blood hitting floor'. Woah. Good headlines should build pictures ... but I wasn't quite ready for this one.

iii) Katie Price may have many attributes, and written many books, but maintaining a compelling column is one of the hardest things to do - even for accomplished journalists. Employing celebrities, sports people and politicians as columnists is usually to provide an insight into their exclusive world. But do Sun readers really care that Ms Price doesn't like Rachel Johnston, that she would like to have met Marie Colvin and that her name doesn't guarantee a table reservation in some restaurants? Needs to step up the game. 

iv) There may be no Page 3 girl, indeed there are no nipples at all, but there is still a semi naked Kelly Rowland on Page 3 and plenty of glamour shots, not least Holly Willoughby in a leather studded catsuit.    

v) There is one small surprise - the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, joining the ranks of the Sun's columnists. He quotes Alexander Pope and rages against unemployment. He also provides the non-sequitur of the week. His penultimate paragraph of his main piece reads: "Ours is a God of second opportunities. With that in mind, live in hope, free from fear and embrace every day that God puts before you with confidence." This sage advice is then followed by: "And if you can buy The Sun seven days a week, even better." Well, it made me laugh.

vi) As usual, one of the biggest reasons to buy the Sun is the sport or, to be more precise, the football. The Goals Plus supplement is 28-pages with every league game covered. The graphics and stats are just what you need for a bit of Sunday morning analysis. I trust Roy Keane will shake off his leash once in a while.

vii) Putting seven-day TV listings in the main paper is far from ideal. TV watchers may hang on to a mag throughout the week but Sunday's newsprint will be  pretty dog-eared by Tuesday.

viii) For typographical geeks the Sun persists with Tempo for news display, which is not only clean with impact but gives a good headline count. Far more interesting though is the Cooper Black fest in the features section. It used to be the Sun's news font - so a little bit of heritage continues. The white serif text on red on Page 15 of Fabulous is asking an awful lot.

ix) There is plenty of mainstream advertising ... so any worries about companies wanting to disassociate themselves from the paper will have evaporated. Looks like the Sun on Sunday is here to stay

x) Finally a woman's perspective ... a quick conversation with my female colleagues indicates that Fabulous is one of the best newspaper magazines around and well suited to a Sunday. They particularly like the two pages of shoes (sigh). They are also impressed with the depth of the main paper, with plenty going on for women after the centre spread. Best quote: "Nancy Dell'Olio on style ... do me a favour."

Saturday, 25 February 2012

How the Sunday tabloids line up

So after a week of frenzied anticipation ... this is what we will have at the popular end of the news-stands. The much awaited Sun on Sunday is definitely The Sun and not a resurrected News of the World. It is the same titlepiece, with the word Sunday downplayed, typography, design and tone. Tomorrow's paper splashes with an Amanda Holden interview. I had hoped for an earth-shattering newsy exclusive but showbiz is the frontline for the tabloids these days. Is it really a new story though? The 'I almost died' headlines were kicking around two weeks ago. I appreciate the whole interview will be fresh but that's more of a blurb than a splash. I did wonder whether this was a decoy, and the real splash would be unleashed after first edition, but the second edition is unchanged. Football and popular celebrity is the SoS's chosen route. It's a safe and well-trodden path - and it will sell. Maybe newsier, hard-edged investigations will emerge in the next few weeks, but it seems clear that this is to be a seven-day newspaper and not a radically different Sunday title.   
The Mirror has the same showbiz/football mix ... and I am told by those who know that the reconstructed Kerry Katona is as much of a draw as Amanda Holden these days. Good teasers. Harry is a bit of a coup and the Si Cowell question is a classic blurb. You have to buy the paper to find out the answer. The Mirror has reduced its cover price to 50p - but only in some regions which is a fascinating marketing strategy. In Newcastle you can get the real Sunday Sun, the regional newspaper for the North-East, and Sunday Mirror for a £1.30 deal.
The Daily Star Sunday, not a paper I would normally pick up, has made a good fist of squaring up to the new Sun. It's selling on the fact that it's 50p. Add a free pint for every reader, a mega football magazine, a girl in a bikini and what, on the face of it, is a fairly decent Royal exclusive and you have a popular mix. That said, the Mail ran a similar tale back in 2010. We're No 1 For All The News Of Your World is a cheeky little slogan. They have also signed up Guido Fawkes as a columnist ...
The Mail on Sunday has the first interview with MP Stuart Andrew telling of his alleged headbutting in the Commons by Eric Joyce. This was a cracking tale when it broke ... but I'm not sure about its legs. Still, it has a newsy element and those who fancy a break from blonde female celebrities sharing the coughs and splutters of their private lives may find it more appealing. If not, £5 off at Tesco is always a winner and my youngsters might go for the Frozen Planet poster.  
The Express has a non-showbiz exclusive but this one won't be around when we do the news review of the year. Maybe it's just me but I just don't feel very outraged at all. I am even less bothered that Beatrice and Eugene are getting Range Rovers. The big 30p blurb is a bit of a cheek. It means the Express is 30p cheaper than the Mail. I have long banged on about how 'Free Inside' isn't the best of blurbs. Free? Well we are hardly going to make you pay extra once you have bought the paper. Inside? Where else is it going to be? In our rival's publication? But then there is the free gardening knee mat ...

The People also pushes the price - 50p. It leads on Jimmy Greaves having a stroke, interesting to the likes of me but there can't be many under 30s who even know who he is. Across the top are the bikini pictures of Tulisa, from the same shoot as the Star's. Interesting that they should plug veteran columnist Carole Malone on Page 1. They obviously think she is a better draw that the Sun's Katie Price.  

Thanks to the skymedia-gallery and @hendopolis.

For those of you with nothing better to do with your Sunday, I will post my thoughts on the SoS when it arrives tomorrow.

Catastrophe with the apostrophe

This one has been upsetting subs everywhere this week so thought it was worth recording for posterity. , who first drew attention to it, says if you call your business Apostrophe then you probably shouldn't do this. Fair point.

Nine inspirational female journalists

If you are in need of inspiration and a reminder of why we are in this game,  this picture tribute to nine great female journalists in today's Irish Independent should do it.

Western Mail prepares for battle

Of all today's front pages, it is this stunning illustration from the Western Mail that catches the eye. As the Welsh line up against England at Twickenham today the paper captures the tone with a cover by illustrator Patrick Goddard. It's original and brilliantly executed ... probably irresistible on the news-stands and definitely a collector's item. Fantastic stuff. Goddard is an illustrator on the Judge Dredd comic strip. You can read more here. Hat tip to @Steffan_Rhys.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The best designed newspapers in the world

The annual awards for the world's best designed newspapers have just finished. The top prizes in the Society of News Design's 33rd annual competition went to the Excelsior (Mexico), the National Post and The Grid (both Canada), Politiken (Denmark) and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (Germany). There are some innovative pages as always so it's certainly worth a look around the SND site.
Meanwhile, here are a few of my thoughts and observations:
i) The winners are all expansive, graphic, fond of white space, not obsessed with story count ... and there isn't a single advert in sight (honestly, not one).

ii) All are worth a look but the National Post from Toronto (above) really catches the eye - bold and original work here.   
iii) There were 10,131 entries from 39 countries.
iv) The US had the most category winners with 338.
v) It's the fifth year in a row that UK newspapers have failed to really impress. We had eight category winners out of 717, which made us 12th in the countries' league table, but none made it to the last 24 in the top category. The Independent on Sunday was awarded two Awards of Excellence in the breaking news category for its pages on the Japanese Earthquake and the Norwegian massacre, the FT won a clutch of awards for its magazine pages and the Sunday Herald in Glasgow also picked up an Award of Excellence.
vi) The last UK newspaper to be named as one of the world's best was The Guardian in 2007. Previous UK newspapers named in the category include The Guardian (2005, 2007), Independent on Sunday (2001, 2002, 2003), the Glasgow Herald (2003), The European (1997), The Scotsman (1994, 1996, 1997) and The Daily Telegraph (1994, 1995).
vii) Arab newspaper design has made great strides this year with Oman (49) and UAE (35) coming in as the third and fourth countries behind America and Canada. I worked with some young journalist at the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan last year and the increasing importance they put on design is evident. Mario Garcia takes a particular look at the pages from the Times of Oman here and there is a neat slide show here.
viii) Garcia also highlights the excellent infographics of Simon Scarr of the South China Morning Post which received nine awards.
xi) Finally, I was surprised, when looking through the SND site to find an American judge leading the discussion on the Washington Post's business page which won a Gold Medal in the business page design category. Here is the video.
What had me perplexed was the fact is he is wearing a Newcastle United shirt from the 2006-2007 season. A bit of digging and I found out he is Steve Cavendish , editor of the City Paper in Nashville and a committed Newcastle United fanatic. We made contact on Twitter and he says he was captivated by "the Entertainers" in the Keegan years and has been a fan ever since. Steve joins an illustrious band of Toon Army hacks including myself, David Bourn, Paul Robertson, Chris Rushton, Tim Williams, Richard Bowyer, Laurie Allsopp, Neil Hacking, Ged Clarke, Mark Duell ... but so far he is the only international one I have heard of. If you know of any others, please let me know.
Footnote: Astonishingly, since I originally wrote this, South China Morning Post graphic artist Simon Scarr has been in touch (see comment below) to say he too is a Newcastle supporter. Any more?