Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Chronicle asks readers to choose Page 1

The Chronicle in Newcastle asked its readers which front page it should publish last night. The paper tweeted two options and the readers voted via Twitter. They chose the P45due headline and that is the page that graces today’s Chron. It is another example of how social media and print can work together for publishers. It is also an example of a paper standing up for its readers and not just taking the corporate bollocks that comes out of many football clubs. Oh, and it's also a good lesson (NB Mr Ashley) in how to judge the mood of your customers and react to it. Good innovative stuff from Darren Thwaites and the Chronicle team.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Newspaper things that caught the eye ...

Among the many things in newspapers that caught my eye this week were:

The Sun celebrating Shakespeare's 450th birthday. Tabloid innovation at its very best.

The Times's bold front page crop on its Bernie Ecclestone picture. Cropping the heads off? Yes, it breaks all the rules but doesn't it grab attention? 

Then there was the Financial Review in Australia where the production team hit the wrong button which led to this paper hitting the streets. The front page includes heady, heady type headlines including one which reads 'World is fukt'. Ouch. Here's The Guardian's story on it. 

For sheer CFM factor here's the New York Daily News with a story about a Klu Klux Klan leader being arrested for paying for sex with a black man dressed as a woman in a car. Wow. 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Ten thoughts about the Press Awards

I have just about recovered from last night’s Press Awards. It was, as usual, a cracking night that, for me and my wife Pam, went on until the early hours. The Guardian took the big one - Newspaper of the Year - with Scoop of the Year going to the Mail on Sunday for its expose of the Rev Paul Flowers. The full list of winners and some pictures and videos can be found here. Well done to all of them. The night was a real celebration of the best newspapers in the world - and a reminder of why politicians and those with other vested interests need to keep their murky meddlings to themselves. It was also a night to catch up with (increasingly) old faces ... great fun. Here are my musings on the night.

Young Journalist of the Year Patrick Kingsley
Pic: Nick Carter,MagStar Ltd/Press Awards UK
i) I judged the Young Journalist category and was blown away by the submitted work. There could easily have been 20 worthy winners. There was a good range too. Patrick Kingsley, from The Guardian, won it for frontline and risky reporting from Cairo. By contrast The Sun’s Lee Price was highly commended for some fun tabloid ideas - including successfully inviting celebrities to his birthday party at his flat. I should also give a special mention to Simon Murphy, who I had the pleasure to train. His portfolio for the Mail on Sunday included a world exclusive splash, filed from Peru, on the drug mules and a story about how he downloaded a gun on a 3D printer and took it on the Eurostar. The future of journalism looks like it is in safe hands.

ii) Seeing ex-trainees - including David Rose, Charlotte Griffiths, Claire Ellicott, Amy Iggulden, Helen Lewis and Emine Sinmaz - holding down senior roles is very rewarding ... even if it does bring it home just how old I have become.

The Guardian - Newspaper of the Year
iii) The red tops should really get a better deal. The full breakdown of last night's award winners is Guardian 4, Mail 4, Times 4, FT 3, Mail on Sunday 2, Sunday Times 2, Daily Telegraph 1, Daily Mirror 1, Observer 1, Sun 1, Sunday People 1, Standard 1, Reuters 1. An overwhelming victory for the quality end. In the last 15 years the only red tops to win Newspaper of the Year were the News of the World (2005) and the Mirror (2002). The judges, mainly journalists, clearly gravitate towards the heavier papers. There are, understandably, difficulties in comparing red-top story-getters with the writers, analysts and database researchers of the qualities. Well done to the Society of Editors for recognising this. It was a step in the right direction to separate the interviewer, columnist and feature writer categories for broadsheet and popular papers. It was also a good move to change the secret ballot by all judges to a panel of independent and respected figures. 

iv) The industry is still clearly dominated by mainly white males. Thirteen of the winners were men and only six were women. There were 18 men nominated in the cartoonists and photography categories - not a woman in sight. Surprisingly there were also no women shortlisted as critics of the year or popular newspaper feature writers. This is a big improvement on last year though ... when there were only three women winners. I know that the Society is ensuring  there is more of a balance in the judging panels. But it is a broader issue. There are certainly more women than men coming into the industry - so why the imbalance? Discuss.

Front Page of the Year - but not Scoop of the Year
v) The noisiest and most passionate tables were those of the Mirror and People. The People’s team couldn’t believe that the Nigella Lawson story, which won Front Page of the Year, didn’t also win Scoop of the Year. The story wasn’t commended either, so came behind the Mail on Sunday, the Daily Mail and The Guardian. You can understand why editor James Scott was reportedly ready to headbutt the bar. Another dispute about the page - and whether it was the idea of departed Trinity Mirror executive Sue Douglas - spilled over on to Roy Greenslade’s Guardian column and was well aired on Twitter. Follow the trail of Fleet Street Fox from earlier today and you’ll get the picture.

vi) A whipround on each table raised more than £3,000 for the Journalists’ Charity. This is something all journalists need to support. The details are here

Party animals - David Seymour (former political editor of the Mirror), John Stapleton, me, Pam Sands and Lynn Faulds Wood
vii) When you are not part of a paper’s table, the kind of night you have often depends on who you get landed with. We had great table mates. They included TV icons Lynn Faulds Wood and John Stapleton, Sue and John Ryan and young journalist Kate Taylor who all turned out to be good craic.

Absent friends: Colin Myler and Ted Young sent this picture of themselves 'working' in New York
viii) Last time I was at the awards I enjoyed a mini Northern Echo reunion with the then Mail online editor Ted Young and Times' head of news David Taylor. Ted is now editor of the New York Daily News Online so wasn't there this year. Instead, he sent a picture of himself and former News of the World editor Colin Myler with the message 'some of us are at work.' John Stapleton, a friend of Ted's, offered the considered response: 'Tough shit'

In control - Julie Etchingham
Pic: Nick Carter,MagStar Ltd/Press Awards UK
ix) Host Julie Etchingham had her hands full trying to keep the room under control. She’s a great pro, of course, and took it all in her stride. She did say though, as she left, that she felt more like a school-teacher. Amazingly, she is 44. I can only guess she has an ageing portrait of herself in the attic. 

x) Finally congratulations to Bob Satchwell, the Society of Editors' executive director, and his team. It was a great event. As a judge of many years, 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 and general firefighting. Keeping almost everyone happy in a room bouncing with rivalry and egos is no mean feat. As always, all of his diplomatic skills were required. Well done Bob.

Now I have six weeks to recover before we do it all again at the regional awards. Looking forward to it. 

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Scotland is butt of the April Fool frenzy

It's after midday so all of the April Fool gags should now be taken down and we can get on with the serious business of the day. I offered my view of the jokes this time last year. Basically, when I was an editor I never understood why we would spend the whole year persuading people of our integrity and credibility and then one day just tell blatant lies - and take the mick out of the readers. And apart from anything else most of them weren't at all funny. 

If you came up with a Panorama spaghetti farm idea or if The Guardian discovered the islands of San Serriffe, including the small islet Ova Mata, then it would definitely be worthwhile. But crude photoshopped images of giant bunnies invading football pitches? I think not. This year everyone seems to have been at it. So, taking my po face off for a while, here is my pick.

Scottish independence seemed to be the main butt of the jokes with five national papers taking a bit of a poke. 

The Daily Telegraph used Page 10 to unveil the new Scottish pound coin with Alex Salmond replacing the Queen. The Guardian gave Page 5 prominence to its story that if Scotland wins independence it will change driving to the right. I liked the proposal to change the traffic lights to red, amber and blue which was rejected after fears the Southern Tories would adopt it as their own. Scottish Independence was the theme in the Mail too - with an idea to get rid of the Scottish Saltire from the Union Flag so that it will look like this:

Avril Mactickle was the campaigner in this one. 

The Times had a story about a German duke who would have claims to rule Scotland and The Independent said the UN will be drafted in to monitor 'cross border tensions'. The peacekeepers will be changing their helmets from blue to purple so that they aren't seen to be Scottish supporters. 

The Sun opted for Page 9 to run its headline Frackingham Palace above a story on the Queen drilling for gas at Buck House. I quite liked ER Ewing. Predictably, campaigner Avril Fuel also makes an appearance. The Sun also had a story on the sports pages about Plymouth Argyle changing their pitch colour to orange so that it doesn't clash with their green strip. 

The Express also carried a spoof football story - that Arsenal and Spurs were to share a ground.

The Express ran two more April Fool stories - one online and one in the paper. Online was a story about a mummified teddy bear being discovered and on Page 3 there was a tale about a farmer hatching a plan to sell square eggs. It will end the need for eggcups. The farm was, predictably, in Flair Loop in Suffolk and campaigner Flora Pilo was the campaigner.

 Coincidentally, ITV's Daybreak also ran a story about square eggs.

The Mirror went with an economical farming story too - the farmer breeding six-legged lambs. 

In the regions the Brentwood Gazette reported that Brentwood is planning to pay tribute to TOWIE star Joey Essex with a huge bronze statue. Meanwhile both the Nottingham Post and Hartlepool Mail went for the discovery of historic bones. In Nottingham it was Robin Hood's remains that were found and in Hartlepool, inevitably, it was those of the famous hanged monkey.

Sinkholes were a bit of a theme too - there was one in Somerset and one in Coronation Street. The Western Daily Press's report - with a far more authentic looking picture than the Corrie one - had me wondering for a second but Freshford resident April O'Lof was a bit of a clue. 

The PR companies were at it too. Andrew Bloch listed scores of them on twitter this morning including the aquatic taxi by Addison Lee that can get you across the Thames quicker. If you want to indulge yourself, follow Andrew here

The readers were also being inventive, as this bicycle prank covered on Kent Online shows.

Perhaps my favourite though was Penguin Books announcing it was to replace full stops with exclamation marks. "For the first time, iconic books such as Albert Camus's The Stranger, Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure, and Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment will remove all the instances of full stops in the original text, and replace them with exclamation marks." 
Brilliant ... although I fear I have worked in some places where they have already done that!!!!!!

If you are not rigidly bored with all of this by now you can follow Felicity Morse who has been prolific in collecting today's jokes. There are also good compilations by The Independent, the Mirror, The Guardian and The Telegraph.   

The only one that got me going, though, was from my 17-year-old son. He is taking his photography AS level today and set off early for college in his car. At 9.30am I got a text that read: "Traffic was really bad. Was late for my exam and the examiner wouldn't let me in. My teachers flipped out for no reason. Think I've been kicked off the course." Ten minutes later I managed to get down from the ceiling. Gotcha!