Front pages 28-09-14 to 04-10-14
Saturday 4 August, 2014
The succession of Isis killings and triumphant snuff videos has to a large extent been treated by the Press as the stuff of Hollywood. Today, at last, sobriety is beginning to take over. Maybe because the news broke at an inconvenient time on a Friday night, maybe because the message is getting through that this isn't fiction, this is real life.
Whatever the reason, this morning's front pages have a solemnity and dignity about them that has been lacking in the past. Only the Telegraph uses the propaganda shot as its main image. Everyone else shows us Alan Henning as the man he was, as his family and the world should remember him.
Saturday front pages are always heavy with puffs. Should they have been curtailed? Was there time? These are early editions, the pages may have changed again. A particularly tricky question for the Times, given that Anthony Loyd's riveting account of his brief kidnapping in Syria is the magazine's cover story. Should the paper treat it as a moment of serendipity? Or should it retreat, for it feels wrong to pump up the anguish of a pair of men snatched for a few hours when the splash is the murder of a man held hostage for a year?
The Mirror must surely have changed its front again before the night was out. The first edition was devoted to Clarkson, the one above is the tablet edition with the Henning story at the bottom.
And what about the Express? The freebies are still on offer above the masthead and the splash is wrapped round another weather story. If there was time to switch its intended lead to Henning, there must have been time to add his photograph.
Or does the fact that Henning was the fourth man, and the second Briton, to be murdered in this way mean that it is becoming routine, just another news story? A big one, but not so big as to command the entire front page. That moment hasn't arrived yet, but there's a good chance that it will before too long. That will be a sad day.
SubScribe When murder is the expected outcome
Friday 3 October, 2014
The Independent comes up with one of those front pages that makes everyone else seem small-minded and self-serving. It's right. The world does need to wake up to the ebola epidemic, but most of us are at a loss to know what we can do. Obama and Cameron have talked about military assistance, which seems weird until it is pointed out that troops have the discipline and strength to build treatment centres and transport supplies swiftly. The peg for the special was the conference of interested organisations held in London yesterday, which made for a bit of a hand-wringing write-through, but also some good graphics, factboxes and commentary. Pity the three pages are immediately followed by the Lindsey Lohan play review. Yes, a change of pace was needed, but this doesn't feel right.
The Express, Mail and Telegraph are delighted by the new Conservative proposals to distance Britain from the human rights court, as is the Sun, which has a spread inside and a teaser next to the titlepiece. Most of its front is devoted to an X Factor contestant who is suspected of a drugs offence on Ibiza. "Exclusive: star's shame" cries the strapline. Star? This woman got through the heats and has been eliminated from the show, although the Sun is clearly hoping she'll return as a "wild card".
The Times is also still Torified, in this case courtesy of an opinion poll showing the party ahead after Cameron's tax-cutting speech. The Toffs' Times mood is completed by the John Lewis chief having a blast at France - why is this a front-page story? - and a bit of Downton-effect property porn. To be sure, few properties are as enticing as Chatsworth, but the Times's photograph of the Duchess of Devonshire's funeral is a bit raggle-taggle. Others have pictures that convey the air of feudality better, with staff standing deferentially in their pinnies as the hearse passes.
The Star reports on a "plague" of ghoulish black-eyed children. Given that the paper has splashed on these "ghosts" three times this week, it doesn't seem surprising that there should be a flurry of sightings - rather as there was after its stories about killer spiders (don't worry, they haven't been forgotten: they're on page 15) and monster mutant cannibal rats. There is, however, a frustrating lack of photographic evidence. The picture on the front has the informative caption: "the black-eyed spooks look like this" and there is no explanation at all for the doll that dominates page 7.
The Guardian - which also splashes on human rights, though with less glee than the Conservative papers - has a basement on Gerry McCann having another bash at the Press. In this instance it's the Sunday Times, which has just paid £55,000 libel damages for an Insight piece claiming that McCann and his wife Kate had hindered the search for their daughter. The settlement was proof, McCann writes, that nothing had changed since Leveson and that Ipso was a sham. The front-page piece, which turns to page 10, is a teaser for a longer McCann rant in the comment section. Is this newsworthy? Does this man need more exposure? It seems the libel laws were effective in this case and the complaint was made a year ago, so it is hard to see how the three-week-old Ipso is at fault. The Guardian has decided not to sign up to Ipso. Maybe that has something to do with the positioning of this non-story.
SubScribe Crunching Cameron's tax-cut numbers
See the rest of this week's papers here
Thursday 2 October, 2014
Trebles all round for the Tory faithful after Cameron's conference speech. Even the Guardian's commentators applaud its delivery, if not its content.
A week ago, Ed Miliband's leader's speech to the Labour gathering made only two front pages, with Fleet Street preferring the build-up to the vote on Iraqi airstrikes. If there had been a belief that Miliband was telling us what his premiership would mean, the papers would probably have paid him more heed. We can see today that they are expecting a Conservative Government to be returned next spring. The Mail and Sun are particularly excited, with the Sun putting itself centre stage for the second time in three days. (Didn't Mr Murdoch say he didn't like that sort of journalism? Mr Dinsmore is quite defiant, isn't he?)
There is plenty of political analysis and sketch-writing on the inside pages, but rather too little financial scrutiny. Ah well. Journalists are not renowned for their numeracy, so SubScribe is off with notebook, pen and compound interest calculator and will return to this later.
The Mirror avoids Cameron on the front, but finds room for a dig over the former Tory donor who has switched to Ukip and promised to up his dowry to £1m because Hague said he'd never heard of him.
The Star is still on the trail of ghoulies, ghosties and long-legged beasties. We dread to think what it will come up with for Hallowe'en.
Wednesday 1 October, 2014
There is something odd about the story of Yusra Hussien, the 15-year-old girl from Bristol who is thought to have run away to Syria to join Isis. Most papers report that she had "self-radicalised" through the internet and flown to Turkey with an older girl from London. Her parents seem to know nothing about this. The radicalisation line is presented as solid fact, without attribution, although the information appears to ahve come from the police. We have no clue as to how the police drew these conclusions, nor details of the identity of the second girl - described as a radical - beyond that fact that, like Yusra, she is of Somali background. In normal circumstances, that's the sort of key information you'd expect to be released when looking for a missing schoolgirl. There are doubtless good reasons for all of this, but some explanation or acknowledgement of the missing links in this story would be helpful.
The Times combines this story with the news that a couple of RAF Tornadoes hit an Isis pick-up truck and a weapons store - a military triumph that has the Express in overdrive.
On a much lighter note, the Clooney nuptials are still filling pages. Today we have a photograph taken in July of the bride trying on her rather splendid dress - a white Oscar La Renta number, not the "stunning £10,000 bespoke Alexander McQueen dress created by Sarah Burton" the Mail on Sunday told us about. That red McQueen frock was her hen party outfit.
The Annie Leibovitz shot of the fitting for Vogue is the best photograph for those who want to see the dress; if it's the golden couple you're looking for, the Express obliges with the front cover of People magazine, which was given pictures in exchange for a donation to charity. And if all that isn't enough, the Mail sets Amal against Kate under the head "Sisters in fashion" to produce the biggest load of fashion bollocks you'll see this week. They both wear red, white, blue and floral outfits. They are both women. They both have long dark hair. There the similarities end.
For better fashion news, look at the Chanel show in Paris fashion week, where Karl Lagerfeld had models sashaying down the street-scene catwalk holding feminist banners.
Tuesday 30 September, 2014
The papers split on party lines in reporting the Conservative conference: the loyalists give readers the "good news" of extended GP opening hours; the left-leaners give Osborne's tax credits freeze pride of place for the second successive day. The Guardian and Mirror pull no punches with their headings. SubScribe will say only that it was something of a surprise to see the verb "promise" used by some news organisations in the context of a two-year freeze that will cost people money.
Monday 29 September, 2014
A rare day for the Express, with most papers following its pensions tax agenda - a more positive conference opener for the Tories than yesterday's front pages. The use of Osborne's first name in the Mail splash heading jars, too pally by half, and anyway there's only one "George" in newspapers' sightline at the moment. The triumphant European Ryder Cup team provide the picture for several papers, but the English editions lack the exuberance of the photograph chosen by the Scotsman.
The Sun is not letting up on Kelly Brook: does anyone care at all? There'll be far more interest in Lynda Bellingham, who made a shock appearance on the Mail on Sunday's front yesterday and returns now in the Mirror. Both claim an exclusive on the actress saying that she has only weeks to live. How come? The Mail is serialising her autobiography; the Mirror had an interview. Most will find both sad as Bellingham is one of those people off the telly that people instinctively take to their hearts.
Editor's blog Are we on first-name terms?
Sunday 28 September, 2014
If you've forgotten to note the date of the Conservative conference in your diary, the papers are always willing to help. When the "Tories in crisis", "Tories in chaos", "Tories rocked by sex scandal" heads appear, it's a fair bet the party's about to have its annual jamboree.
It's an age-old tradition and even friendly papers join in the fun - I remember subbing the Times "I implored him to tell Thatcher" splash more than 30 years ago when Sara Keays spilt the beans on her affair with Cecil Parkinson and the fact that she was pregnant with his daughter Flora.
This year there's a double whammy, with the Sunday Mirror stitching up Brooks Newmark, the charming, diligent and unbelievably silly man who until this morning was minister for civil society, and Nigel Farage stealing another MP, the appropriately named Mark Reckless.
The Telegraph and Express go for the double blow, although the Express's splash head and text are wrong because Newmark hasn't quit as an MP. The Mirror, understandably, and the Mail stick with the single line of Newmark and his photograph, which means they can use that magic word "sex" in big letters. The Sunday Times shows that it's quite easy to do both (pity the count didn't allow defection rather than defector).
Yes, sex still sells, even when we're at war. The Observer may take a serious view of the military action in Iraq - but under a monster white-on-pink caps "Sex uncovered" puff leading to a survey of the nation's bedroom habits.
The Sun is still obsessed with Kelly Brook, who has apparently split with her fiancé, an event that SubScribe had somehow missed. The People is similarly intrigued, splashing on "the woman behind the split" - a line also taken by its sister paper, the Mirror, in its puff. Thus we begin to see the results of the merger of the two papers' staffs.
And then there's Clooney...
Editor's blog: A malicious and misconceived sting
See last week's papers and mini reviews here
The deaths of Alice Gross and Alan Henning this week epitomised the cruel triumph of experience over hope. We knew in our bones that these outcomes were inevitable, yet we hoped against hope, along with the Gross family and Henning's wife.
The discovery of Alice's body was reported almost as a side issue amid the recriminations about the police search, the politicised commentaries on the missing Latvian. Headlines such as "It's now a murder hunt" reinforced the impression that this was all about the police and their supposed failings rather than about a teenager who had been walking along a towpath on a late summer's day and never made it home.
When murder is the expected outcome
a few numbers
This entire enterprise was malicious and misconceived, and has resulted in women losing a valuable voice in government. Newmark founded Women2Win with Baroness Jenkin in 2005. That's nine years of campaigning to help women advance in the macho world of Westminster. Did the Mirror's freelancer think that Newmark was in it only to find young blondes willing to take their clothes off?
Journalistic sting operations tend to be targeted and, whatever the protestations of the alleged victims and their apologists, often illuminate and amuse the rest of us while embarrassing the stung. I have no sympathy for senior politicians who display unacceptable naivety and get caught out.
The Newmark saga shows an imperfect, supposedly free, robust and knockabout press doing its work
- Richard Dixon
Are we on first-name terms with the Chancellor?
It's probaby best if we aren't. But why not?
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