Saturday August 30, 2014
The raised terror alert is the obvious majority splash, and the hunt for brain tumour patient Ashya King is covered widely - incidentally it makes more sense to use a photograph such as that in the Times than the one in the Express and the i, if the objective is to find the family. The Guardian tells the story of a Muslim abuse victim and there's a lot of Rotherham about - it seems that half of Fleet Street went up there this week.
But this is Saturday, so we need to look at the important things in life: reality TV and food....
The return of X Factor knocks Big Brother out of the top slot in the Star (although BB still makes the single) and takes over half the Mirror's front. You mean you didn't know it was coming back? Why do you think all that Cheryl v Simon stuff happened this week? Elsewhere in "reality" land, that baked alaska spat is not going away (sorry Joan Smith), and there's a bit of moaning because no one's heard of most of the contestants lining up for Strictly's return next Saturday. That complaint doesn't make sense, since they include reality stars Greg Wallace of Masterchef, Mark Wright from TOWIE, Tim Wonnacott from Bargain Hunt, and former Big Brother contestant Alison Hammond. Oh yes, and that bloke Forsyth is supposed to be making an appearance.
If it's food you're looking for (apart, of course, from baked alaska), the Guardian is offering packed lunch recipes, the Times Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's fast food recipes, the Star a pack of Club biscuits and the Express some fajita seasoning.
Elsewhere, Sun readers hoping to see more of Kelly Brook than the generous amount on show on the front will be disappointed. There are several pictures, but they are less revealing. I think it's her soul that she's supposed to be baring here.
Finally, best Saturday splash of the day award goes to the Mail, which is always on the money with consumer stories that really affect people.
The EU ban on the manufacture and import of vacuum cleaners of more than 1600w comes into effect on Monday. This is one of those stories that has barely registered in the mainstream, but has been the subject of great discussion on social media. This is a pity because it means simple questions have so far gone unanswered. For example, the focus is entirely on power usage: the greater the wattage, the greater the suction; the EU wants to reduce power consumption, but won't it take twice as long to clean a carpet with a 1000w vacuum cleaner(the ultimate upper limit) than with a 2000w one (which you won't find for love nor money today)? The idea is to encourage the development of new products, but in the meantime it looks as though we're going back to the rug on the line and the carpet beater.Mail heaven!
Friday 29 August, 2014
All hail the Times. With a clean but unsensational front page it has achieved the feat of getting the three most important stories and the top picture subject of the day into the tabloid - sorry, compact - format without anything looking squeezed. Douglas Carswell's defection to Ukip has get plenty a pulse racing, while the private - not secret - Brangelina wedding has taxed the picture editors: Mr Pitt has six different looks on as many pages. If you want to know what he looks like now, turn to the inside where most papers have him visiting the Tank Museum yesterday. The Mirror and Star promise to tell us the "secrets" behind the wedding, but I'll spoil that by saying the kids asked them to get on with it.
The Rotherham fallout continues with papers going off in search of their own lines: the South Yorkshire Police do not emerge well from today's episode.
Only the Guardian splashes on the Ukraine, which will disappoint Hacked Off chief Joan Smith. She tweeted this morning: "International crisis. Russia appears to invade Ukraine. The Sun leads on a cooking competition." The Sun has produced some terrible front pages in the past couple of weeks, but Ms Smith is wrong here. Today's is a classic. It has wit and style and absolutely captures a glorious spat in that middle-class reality show. Six hundred people complained to the BBC. Six hundred! As the Sun says, "seriously!"
I do hope Ms S is sitting down when she opens page 3 of the Guardian, for which she writes.
See what the commentators say about the Carswell defection here
Thursday 28 August, 2014
The Mail and Telegraph knives are out for Rotherham officials still in post after yesterday's sexual grooming and abuse report from Professor Alexis Jay. The key targets are Shaun Wright, the police and crime commissioner who was previously a councillor with responsiblity for children's services, and Joyce Thacker, the council's director of children's services. Wright has resigned from the Labour Party and is apparently now considering his position at home with his family. The Independents are concerned that officials who worked in Rotherham over the years of abuse are now doing similar jobs elsewhere; the Guardian says the problem is being seen all over the country. The Times, which "owns" the story in that the inquiry was set up as a result of Andrew Norfolk's reporting, picks up a quote from Thacker in the Jay report - rather strangely with a "The Times can reveal" tag - and then gives a quick runthrough on the other officials in the dock. It's big property, however, is the Times2 cover story about Norfolk's years wading through the quagmire of this sordid phenomenon. The Sun has meanwhile found a victim who is willing to show her face. Brave woman.
For others it was business as usual - jihadists in the Mirror and Madeleine and benefits cheats in the Express. I dearly hope the Star's splash is true.
SubScribe The scandal isn't about political correctness; it's about incompetence
See what the commentators say about the Rotherham scandal here
Wednesday 27 August, 2014
The Rotherham story dominates, as you'd expect. But there are some perverse headlines from the Mail, Sun and inside the Express, which are all too ready to pursue a political agenda themselves rather than tell the story straight. Yes, race was a big factor in the pattern of abuse, but the fear of being seen as racist was a much smaller factor in the overall failings of the police, child protection staff and elected councillors.
The Independent and Mirror rightly devote their entire front pages to Alexis Jay's report, the i looks good, and the Guardian has a workmanlike up-and-down page one. The rest struggle.
The desire to give Kate Bush a good show is understandable, but that arms akimbo shot doesn't work with a story like Rotherham. For the Mail and Telegraph it means downgrading the abuse and has resulted in a Kate sandwich in the Times. The latter's treatment of the Jay report is the most surprising, since its reporting led to the inquiry in the first place. Why not put Ms Bush in the puff and go all out on Andrew Norfolk? And why in heavens is that so-so story about e-cigarettes gatecrashing the party? Crowing is definitely in order here.
Elsewhere, the Sun hits a dischord with that Chanelle pose in the puff, the Express is just wrong and wrong with migrants and the Downton maid, and the Star is beyond parody.
Incidentally, the 'experts' quoted in the Express splash are Migration Watch. The organisation may be expert insofar as a devoted West Ham fan is an expert on football. It spends a lot time looking at the subject, but from a partisan angle.
SubScribe Rotherham scandal isn't about political correctness
Tuesday 26 August, 2014
August Bank Holiday Monday has a permanent place in the premier league of dead news days, so when something of significance (apart from rain) happens, it's fair to expect it to get decent coverage.
In just over three weeks, the people of Scotland will decide the fate of the whole of the UK. People in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will have no say in the matter, which is presumably why our nationals south of the border have given the referendum campaign so little coverage on the news pages. (The comment sections, as is increasingly the case, are ahead of their news colleagues on this.) The televised debate last night between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling may have been showbusiness, but as Martin Kettle writes in the Guardian today, these events test the timber of the arguments. Salmond, having performed weakly in the previous encounter, is seen to have come out the overwelming winner in what could prove a key moment.
Yet only the Telegraph sees the debate as splash material, while the Guardian and Times managed a single each. The Guardian returned to spies and terrorism, the Times to crime figures. Both stories were perfectly good pre-prepared holiday weekend splashes, but they weren't live news, as the Scotland debate was.
The British nurse who contracted Ebola while trying to help sufferers in Sierra Leone is given extensive coverage and makes the splash in the Mirror, which has been keen on this story from the world go.
Fertility and parenting issues exercise the Independent and the Sun, which has managed to find a British equivalent of the Gammy story from Australia. There is an accompanying panel about famous people who have used surrogates to bear their children from which the name Rebekah Brooks is strangely absent.
The Indie's headline is good, but it promises a more interesting read than the story delivers. It is about a review of the health of teenagers born as a result of an IVF technique outlawed in America more than a decade ago. The angle here is that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority "will be watching" the results of the review because it has to determine the safety of another technique aimed at screening out defects that would be passed on by the mother. The trouble is that only 30 babies were born using the American technique and the review is being conducted by the clinic that produced more than half of the children. As ever, Steve Connor is thorough and there's an impressive spread inside, but it doesn't feel splashworthy.
Well, it doesn't until you look at the Star and a purported scheme to spend £4bn on sending 24 people to a Big Brother house on Mars. Yeah, right.
Monday 25 August, 2014
Sunday 24 August, 2014
The ethnicity of the guilty men is a central feature of the abuse and council officials were certainly inhibited because of it. But this was a regime unwilling to confront the abuse at all - regardless of who was behind it.
This was a dysfunctional council that operated in a macho atmosphere of bullying and sexism.
Women were lesser beings, the girls were regarded with disdain and contempt, and discussion of subjects such as sex abuse was almost impossible
The Scottish view
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