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20.3.04

Oonagh Blackman stakes her claim to the Number One parly job at The Mirror with their election in October splash this morning.
The only source is an un-named MP . Not even a "senior MP", or a "cabinet source". I've no idea if there's any basis in reality to the tale - and no night desks seem to have followed it up, so presumably Number Ten were pissing all over it. But that doesn't mean anything.
Apart from Oonagh herself the other main candidate for soon-to-be-departing James Hardy's job appears to be Patrick O'Flynn, political editor of the Express.

How long has Charlie Kennedy got? Not that long, I reckon. The Lib Dems' leader was indisposed on Wednesday, unable to respond on one of the Commons' set piece occasions, the oppositions' budget response. Ming "The Merciless" Campbell had to fill in with just a few minutes notice.
A violent stomach upset, we were told. Puking all over place. The same thing happened a few weeks sgo.
Now the rumours that it was, ahem, self-inflicted - ie due to an almighty whiskey bender the night before - have been given an airing in the Independent. Are we about to witness a traditional Liberal leader implosion?
By now they'll all be going loco down in Acapulco - or is it Cancun? - at the Newscorp/News International shindig. Yet again, that blasted Bronwen Maddox has snatched the glittering prize and taken my rightful place around the pool sipping daiquiris.
There is a silver lining. The stated dress code - smart casual, resort casual and casual - would have left me a jibbering wreck trying to work what heading loafers came under.
The big story here is that Tory party leader Michael Howard has gone to pay homage at the court of King Rupert. What to make of this? Is The Sun about to ditch Labour and go back to being a Tory paper?
I'd say that it's never been a Labour paper - it's been a Blair paper.
I think people over-play the role ideology or politics played in this. The Sun backed Labour in 97 and 01 because its readers were going to - and every wise newspaper editor/proprietor is constantly trying to slavishly follow what his readers think.
If those readers are now considering going Tory, then the paper has to toy with the notion too. It's business.

19.3.04

Very, very bad news indeed. From what I gather, Gorgeous George has settled for about £90,000 - plus costs - from the CSM. It's difficult to know where the Telegraph goes from here. Their defence against Galloway's similar libel claim against them is likely to be that they believed the documents they based the story on to be authentic.
(The authors of Crooked Timber - who seem to have less personal experience of getting sued than me and are so a great deal less circumspect - have left this informative post on their site).
But as any Fleet Street habitue could tell you, believing your story is true is an almost-certainly hopeless defence under this country's absurd libel laws.
You have to wonder if the fact no one is in charge at the Telegraph at the moment - thanks to Black's epic fall from grace - means no one can authorise a settlement. So it might still come to court. Here's hoping it does, justice prevails and Galloway gets spanked.
In the meantime, answers to the usual address as to what you think Galloway should/will spend the hundreds of thousands he has coming his way on. Here are my guesses; 1) lots and lots of hoummous 2) Getting that life-size statue of Saddam updated to feature the old bastard's "hiding in a hole" look 3) himself.

18.3.04

My view on the Jeremy Clarkson vs Piers Morgan series of spats is a bit like Henry Kissinger's on the Iran-Iraq war - it's a shame they can't both lose.

17.3.04

Of course your host wasn't at the British press awards last night - my name was unaccountably left off the nominations for "Best travel puff piece knocked out in 45 minutes after the PR agency threatened to send a bill for the free fortnight in Antigua that they were promised would get a spread".
I think Bronwen Maddox picked up that gong - again.
Interesting that the Indie won paper of the year. What they did in switching from broadsheet to tabloid was brave and deserved recognition - even if there was no other place for the paper to go other than closure. But it overlooks one key point - it's still not a very good paper.
It's more expensive than The Times but count the number of news pages - there are twice as many in the Murdoch paper.
The Indie feels thin, it hasn't worked out how to use pics in the new format and it looks grey.
There will be a few really good pieces every day - but the rest of it reads like Metro. Except for Robert Fisk's stuff which reads like the rantings of a ********. Which they are.


Wicked whisper: which daily tabloid has worked out that a promotion last week cost over 60 quid per new reader - meaning it would have been cheaper to staple £50 notes to the front of the paper.
You call it as you see it, I suppose. Word reaches me of editorial conference at the Sunday Tel last Saturday. Short of a homegrown splash, the editor chose to go with the dreadful Madrid attacks. But who to pin it on? With no arrests or claim of responsibility, it was still a toss up between ETA and al-Qaida.
Only one thing to do then, take a vote. . .

Luckily for readers of the paper's early editions, Bin Laden got the nod by a six-to-four margin.
A dispatch from The Sun - where "underfire news supremo" Paul Field has earned the nickname David Blaine after being exiled from the news desk into a small glass cubicle office. Apparently, Field has been reminding all and sundry that David Blaine always escapes from imminent peril in the end. What could he mean?

On a related note, nasty gossips at Wapping are claiming that Field has taken to locking his bathroom door when having a relaxing soak after a certain reporter told him he thought he should quit.

(Those not acquainted with Fleet Street lore and myth may care to consult Stick It Up Your Punter)
Oh God - please tell me it's not that time of the year again. But it is... It's the Mirror's Pride of Britain Awards.
The most mawkish event in the history of journalism returns. The usual ingredients were all there - unfortunate punters being patronised by minor celebrities, pictures of tastefully maimed children and the grim sight of Brian Reade abandoning every iota of the passion and scepticism that makes him the best male columnist in the business every week but this.
Some Mirror loyalists will, of course, claim the event is an act of wonderfully heart-warming altruism. But even they must know that everyone at the paper involved with this appalling event view it with the sort of cynicism that makes me look like a particularly naive Brownie.
The worst bit had to be "Miss" Diana Ross's appearance. Here's hoping no tragic but plucky victims of a callous drunk driver had to be shunted off the guest list once the old jailbird accepted her invite.
At least this year no members of staff have been discovered doing anything illicit in the lavatories. And no well-known guest goosed a lady columnist, smashed up a bedroom and got hideously drunk.....


14.3.04

Implausible Sunday Redtop Story Of The Week - the first of what will be a regular feature.
Not for the last time I fear, the honour goes to the People and their nonsense about Simon Cowell's love travails.
Who does this stuff kid?
(did enough law to know it's probably better not to add anything here)
So perhaps the Guardian is going to make the switch... Word is that they're shopping for a printing plant able to produce an El Pais/Le Monde shape paper. Think long and thin Daily Mail.
Peter Preston hints at it in his insufferably smug and over-written Obs column today.
From what I gather the real problem hasn't been fitting in the reams of Wednesday ads for gay outreach workers and multi-task facilitators able to deliver life-long learning strategies etc.
It's persuading the over-unionised production staff to change their rotas.....

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