The front pages September 14-20
So it's all over (bar an awful lot of shouting) and our papers are gradually retreating to their traditional stomping grounds, some of which have a faded tartan carpet. The Telegraph and Express look to the Queen for inspiration, the Mail is rooting for England, and the Sun and Mirror are in their Strictly gladrags. Only the Times of the English papers thinks the resignation of the man who lit the referendum fuse is worthy of a splash. Strange. In the animal kingdom the Star's monster spiders are getting above themselves, but more disturbing is the Mirror's half-page photograph of a racehorse being shot. SubScribe thought editors were supposed to show greater family sensitivity at the weekend. Some hope.
Friday 19 September, 2014
Election night, the greatest fun, the greatest frustration. Journalists putting these pages together knew that by the time they reached their readers they'd be way out of date. With a general election, it is usually possible to predict the winner by 1 or 2am, but the Scottish referendum was unlikely to produce a result before 6am, so the early editions couldn't be regarded as throwaways, they had to stand up in the light of day. Do they? By and large, yes. Visually, at least. Unless you have commissioned an essayist to write your holding splash - which no one seems to have done - the copy is likely to be a pretty tedious gathering together of turnout figures and polling station anecdotes. Better, perhaps, to go for a picture-led front, as the Independent, i and Scotsman did. Or for something completely different. The Isis video of the British journalist John Cantlie, who was kidnapped after going to Syria in November 2012 is obviously a strong story and makes a splash for the Sun, a suppressed lead in the Telegraph and a second element on the front for the Times. The hunt for Arnis Zalkalns, a Latvian who has served time for murder, in the case of the missing London teenager Alice Gross is an equally strong splash for the Mirror, Mail and Express.
SubScribe The final editions and the joy of six (am)
Thursday 18 September
On days like today a poster front is almost obligatory, but how do you illustrate nationhood? A flag - or two - is the obvious option. The Independent and Telegraph look good the Times's Union Flag wrap is ok, But the Mirror's effort is something else. This is an example of someone thinking. A nice clean page with no puffs and the cute marriage of the Union Flag minus the Saltire and the heading "Don't leave us this way". Give whoever dreamt that up a medal; it's a front page to treasure.
Another option is the map. Over the past few days, there have been as many internet incarnations of the UK with Scotland chopped off as there have images of the Madonna or Christ in everyday objects; examples include a piece of KFC and a pool of batter besides the Sun's Aye Cloud. Today the Dundee Courier has a mosaic of faces on a map of Scotland, while the Guardian goes for a topographical image that looks really elegant.
The Sun set itself a tough challenge in combining the referendum with its scoop on Harry and Cressida and while the heading is good, front pages never look good with split pictures, especially when it's necessary to put a circle on one of them to show readers what they're supposed to be looking at. The English Mail has obviously had enough of the whole shooting match, so there's a 'duty' puff atop a splash about the the Thai murders. SubScribe hadn't seen or heard any smears of the victims, but doubtless the Mail has turned up some. The Express offers a conventional front with Strictly and a souvenir replica of an event 61 years ago accompanying the big vote. The Mail and Express both produced much better fronts for Scotland, while the Sun asked for trouble with a big white scribble patch in the middle. See them here.
And then there's the Daily Star. If you weren't frightened enough by yesterday's spiders, the killer mutant mosquitoes are out to get you. Bring out the citronella.
Style Counsel How opinion polls work
SubScribe Referendum miscellany
OpEd What the commentators have to say, courtesy of Editorial Intelligence
Wednesday 17 September
Allegations of bullying tactics by Alex Salmond and his SNP are to the fore as the Scottish independence campaign enters its final day, along with the Tory knives that are coming out for Cameron. The latest polls have the No campaign ahead, but not by much - leading to great insight from the i and the Mail: that the don't knows will decide Scotland's fate, rather as swing voters have determined the result of every general election since forever. For the Telegraph, the nation's destiny is in the hands of women voters. The explanation for this is that without the female vote, the Yes camp would be well ahead and that women are switching to No in large numbers.
Even today there are more important issues than the United or disunited Kingdom - like men who father 26 children and giant spiders. Makes you proud to be British.
Scottish referendum miscellany
Tuesday 16 September, 2014
The murder of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller in Thailand challenges Isis and the Scottish referendum for top slot and provides the main photograph for most papers. Ms Witheridge, being a personable blonde lady, is inevitably the popular choice. The Telegraph and Mail do not use the equally personable Miller on their fronts and the Express Sun and Star all reduce him to a drop-in single. Congratulations to the Times and Mirror for giving them equal prominence. The Sun also goes awry on the heading, as we know with hindsight that the Briton being sought has now been ruled out of the inquiry. The Sun does, however, have a good angle on the hostage story. Sadly, the headline count made it impossible for the sub to share it with the readers. "Gone in 30 minutes" doesn't mean much. "Snatched after 30 minutes in Syria" does. For those who like to keep tabs on these things, this is only the tenth diabetes splash for the Express so far this year.
Monday 15 September, 2014
A little progress, at last, on the choice of pictures to illustrate the Isis stories. The release last night of the photograph of Alan Henning, the Salford taxi driver shown under threat of death in the latest murder video, is the natural common choice as the jihadists reclaimed splash position in nine of the ten English front pages above. The Mail, sadly, pairs it with a orange jumpsuit video still, while the Sun uses another big picture of the murderer alongside a bizarre lead about the fact that he is masked.
"Leading figures" are, it says, demanding that he show his face - as though he's about to listen to them. They include the Tory backbencher Peter Bone and...er, that's it. The Sun does quote "retired Army officer" Richard Kemp as saying that it is cowardly for the killer to hide behind a mask, but he adds: "It is exactly what I would expect." Colonel Kemp's opinion on the Isis campaign would be valuable since, as the Sun doesn't tell us, he is a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan and something of an expert on the Middle East and terrorist tactics used there. Unfortunately, he is circumspect and says only (in flowery language) that the killer wants to keep out of harm's way because the British and Americans will be looking for him. Quite.
On the inside pages, the Sun uses big desert pictures of David Haines and Henning taken from the "sick video" released on Saturday night, plus two of the previous victims James Foley and Steven Sotloff in their orange death suits when everyday mugshots, readily available, would have sufficed.
The Mirror also feels the need to run a sequence of jumpsuit pictures of the three victims kneeling in front of their killer, plus a bigger one of Haines on a second spread, and a cutout of the killer holding his knife aloft.
The Mail concerns itself only with the Brits, supplementing the front-page photographs of Henning with an across-the-spread picture of Haines "seconds from death". Two more stills from the video, one of each of the two men, are inset on the six-column photograph, possibly for no reason other than to fill in the blank area of sand and sky.
The others have been more circumspect. The Times put a three-col video still across the gutter of the first of two spreads, the Telegraph made the same picture a secondary element of a composite, the Star and Independent used postage stamp versions that could easily have been dropped and the Express one of the killer in his balaclava. The Guardian and i, rejoice, produced extensive coverage with not a speck of orange in sight. It is possible.
SubScribe How will we remember David Haines?
Sunday 14 September, 2014
This is almost certainly an unrepresentative sample of the English front pages, since more will surely have changed up for the murder of David Haines. The People and Star struggle with feeble offerings: a couple of soap actors sending unwise texts. The Mail's strapline is impenetrable and not helped by the determination to get "Paul Flowers" in somehow. A reader looking only at the headings - someone passing the news-stand wondering which paper to buy, for example - would wonder what makes this story splashworthy. In fact it is, because the "head of talent" is responsible for choosing her lover's next boss. And the Co-op doesn't need more problems. Elsewhere, minds are focused on the Scottish referendum, of which more elsewhere.
See last week's papers and reviews here
As the head of the Government of the United Kingdom, David Cameron has a duty to do all he can to keep the union together. Papers like the Mail and the Telegraph clearly believe that they have a similar obligation to protect the union. They don't. It may be in their owners' interests for the UK to remain intact. They may sincerely believe that it's in everyone's interests for the UK to remain intact.
But it still feels wrong to see newspapers present only one side of the story, to publish propaganda - no matter how "right minded" - on what should be news pages.
A quick look at the Scottish front pages
Few are in any doubt over what the Queen feels about the union. Most also understand that she mustn't express that opinion. Yesterday she put on a small display of solidarity with a few well-wishers gathered outside a Scottish church.
Whatever she said to them will do nothing to change anyone's perception of her stance or the way people vote on Thursday
The Queen 'speaks out' very carefully
Up to the end of last month, the Scottish referendum had made the splash in English papers only three times this year. That compares with 30 on house prices, 25 on migrants and 26 on Madeleine McCann. Do English papers think it doesn't matter?
Time to wake up
The fact that heads as varied as those belonging to central bankers, world-leading businesses and Nobel prize-winning economists are all warning “no you can’t”, and that an independent Scotland could have disastrous consequences for jobs, prices, pensions and living standards, is swept aside on a wave of Yes balloons and Salmond sound bites.
- Alastair Campbell, Daily Telegraph
I'm claiming independence from Andy Murray. We are so over. It is not the fact that he has a political opinion, it is that he cynically waited until polling day to let his mischief-making feelings be known. All this from a man who lives in the Surrey stockbroker belt and in Florida, a man who remains unaffected by the storm that is heading our way, however Scotland decides to vote.
- Jan Moir, Daily Mail
The photograph of David Haines about to meet his death adds nothing to our knowledge of the man or his killer - whom we have charmingly nicknamed "Jihadi John".
But it will add greatly to the distress of his wife Dragana, who has for 19 months kept her counsel about the fact that he had been kidnapped, who has shielded her four-year-old daughter from the truth about her father's fate
How will we remember David Haines?
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