February 11th, 2012
Sometimes I think Marina Hyde is wasted on the Guardian's Lost in Showbiz column. Then she writes a piece like Abu Qatada's weight and the showbizification of terror and I realise she's exactly where she needs to be, doing $DEITY's work:
[The Daily Mail…] is distressed the corporation should regard "extremist" as a value judgment best avoided in news reports, where "radical" would do. But more than that, it seems, they are incensed at the Beeb's guidance on Qatada's present dimensions, despite the fact it was clearly only given to ensure current rather than out-of-date stock pictures are used. "BBC staff have also been advised against using images of the preacher looking fat," the paper shrieks to its readers. "He is apparently now much slimmer than he used to be."
"Apparently"? Now come, come, Daily Mail. This disingenuity does not become you. I put it to you that you knew very well indeed that Qatada had slimmed down – just as you are aware of even minuscule cellular changes in the adipose layers of everyone from Cheryl Cole to third-tier government ministers to babies such as Harper Beckham, who are only one whitewashed inquiry into press standards away from being described as "pouring their curves" into romper-suits and the like.
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January 31st, 2012
Harry de Quetteville, Obituaries Editor for the Daily Telegraph, on The Art of the Obituary:
[It is…] rare for us to reflect on funeral arrangements, although there are exceptions. It may be fitting to note that a Spitfire will fly over the church where a Battle of Britain fighter pilot is being buried, or that the proprietor of a famous haunt for sozzled actors has asked for mourners to come to his funeral in costume and make up. Rob Buckman, the doctor who died last October after a career which was devoted to improving the way medics counsel the terminally ill, left instructions for a recording to be played at his own interment. It was to run: "Thank you so much for coming. Unlike the rest of you, I don't have to get up in the morning."
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December 21st, 2011
Frank Keating's article on the best of 2011's letters to the editor finds room for a reminder of a classic of years gone by:
Memories here a week ago of the late John Arlott stirred a friend to send the cutting he had hoarded for 35 years of a long-forgotten letter to the editor after John and I had enjoyed a lunch at Lord's on the day we reported on the start of a new cricketing summer. It was from Catherine Waterson of Bishopbriggs, Glasgow: "Sir, I see that the English cricket season has begun in typically changeable weather. So changeable that the sun did not once come out at Lord's for John Arlott on page 20 but shone all day for Frank Keating on page 21. Yours sincerely."
No doubt Keating's summons to appear before the Leveson Inquiry to account for himself is in the post.
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December 1st, 2011
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October 4th, 2011
The Daily Mail on the Amanda Knox verdict: you could
n't make it up!
[Via MeFi user Artw, posting to this MetaFilter thread]
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September 21st, 2011
In the preface to a new edition of Good Times, Bad Times, former Sunday Times and Times editor Harold Evans finds one small consolation in the wake of his having left the News International empire:
On my departure from the Times I became a non-person, and it proved a very happy experience. For years my birthday had been recorded in the Times, a matter I felt more and more to be an intrusion into private grief. After my resignation, my name was left out of the birthdays list. I then came to regard each passing year as not having happened since it had failed to be recorded in the paper of record, and I adjusted my stated age accordingly. More recently my name has been put back in the birthdays list, which is a pity. Perhaps this new edition of Good Times, Bad Times will generate another act of rejuvenation.
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August 5th, 2011
Want to freak out a newsroom full of college journalists?:
Sit them down at manual typewriters and ask them to plunk "2011" onto a piece of paper.
They'll only make it halfway.
"Mine's broken!" one reporter at Florida Atlantic University yelled a couple of Saturdays ago, when we launched the inaugural ALL ON PAPER project. "There's no number 1 key."
"This one is busted, too!" yelled another.
"They're not broken," I replied. "Manual typewriters didn't have a number 1 key. They used a lower-case L instead."
"Seriously?" asked the first reporter. […]
"That's totally fucked up!" declared the second. Those same words have been repeated often these past two-and-a-half weeks, as we've embraced pre-computer technology to publish the last summer issue of FAU's student newspaper, the University Press. […]
[Via Feeling Listless]
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July 17th, 2011
Robert Fisk remembers working at Rupert Murdoch's Times:
He is a caliph, I suppose, almost of the Middle Eastern variety.
You hear all these awful things about Arab dictators and then, when you meet them, they are charm itself. Hafez al-Assad once held my hand in his for a long time with a paternal smile. Surely he can't be that bad, I almost said to myself – this was long before the 1982 Hama massacres. King Hussein would call me "Sir", along with most other journalists. These potentates, in public, would often joke with their ministers. Mistakes could be forgiven.
The "Hitler Diaries" were Murdoch's own mistake, after refusing to countenance his own "expert's" change of heart over the documents hours before The Times and The Sunday Times began printing them. […]
[The paper's foreign editor…] dispatched me to editor Charles Douglas-Home's office with the Reuters story and I marched in only to find Charlie entertaining Murdoch. "They say they're forgeries, Charlie," I announced, trying not to glance at Murdoch. But I did when he reacted. "Well, there you go," the mogul reflected with a giggle. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." Much mirth. The man's insouciance was almost catching. Great Story. It only had one problem. It wasn't true. […]
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July 16th, 2011
Long ago, in an era before newspaper web sites had comments:
From Lt. Col. A.D. Wintle.
The Royal Dragoons
127 Piccadilly W.1.
To the Editor of The Times.
I have just written you a long letter.
On reading it over, I have thrown it into the waste paper basket.
Hoping this will meet with your approval,
Your obedient Servant
6 Feb '46
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July 9th, 2011
The News International scandal gets the Downfall parody treatment.
[Via Liberal Conspiracy]
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