Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Sideways look at design ...

There were a couple of design innovations that caught my eye last week. The Sun’s unusual sideways headline on Page 1 on Thursday generated a flurry of interest on Twitter. Lots of people seemed to like it. Neil Bonnar, head of sport at the Bolton News, said: "Sun have done it again for me. Genius attention grabber”. Emma Bryant, editor of the Carmarthen Journal and a first-rate production journalist, applauded The Sun for trying something new and even Trinity Mirror’s regional editorial director, Neil Benson, said he couldn’t make his mind up whether he liked it or not. "Suppose the alternative was 15 decks x 3 characters,” he said. My view? It was innovative as a one off perhaps but let’s hope it doesn’t lead to a flurry of copycat pages with tilted headlines, upside down pictures and topsy-turvy text. The danger in design is that we introduce fads and gimmicks because we can - rather than remembering how people read. I remember the change from hot metal to paste-up that led to an epidemic of WOB arrows, starbursts, rounded corners, circular pictures, text overlays and winged-in rules. We were free from the constraints of the linotype machine so we threw every design trick in the book at the pages. It settled down of course and most (one or two advertising departments excepted) went back to thinking about the poor reader. Turning the page sideways, other than for the crossword puzzle answers, isn’t really reader friendly.

On the same day, I was equally surprised to see this page in the Daily Mail. Normally the Mail’s news pages uses lower case serif headlines but here, straight out of the Daily Mirror, was Interstate caps. Initially I though there had been a plate mix-up on a press somewhere … but, no, it is a Mail page. A mistake, an experiment or the sign of things to come?

A Mirror headline using Interstate caps

The usual Mail news page typography

Sunday, 19 October 2014

And the ambiguous headline of the month ...

... is a tie!

Ht @eshelm

Front page word blindness

When proof-reading, it is often the headlines that gets missed. Here's an example. More than half the people I have shown this early front page, from yesterday's Times, took at least 30 seconds to spot anything was wrong. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

This week's news quiz: Lydia's 20 to beat

The MailOnline trainees have been working on forward planning stories and Halloween ideas this week. They have uncovered some cracking tales too … some of which will be published on the Mail’s website. Yesterday they had a day with media law specialist David Banks who has taken them to the magistrates' court in Hull today. The Daily Telegraph trainees did social media and live blogging with Darshan Sanghranjka, data with Paul Bradshaw and editing with me. As the Mail trainees are off to court today, we did the newsquiz last night. Lydia Willgress was top again with 20 out of 25 giving her an insurmountable lead in the Mail league table over second placed Christopher Brennan. The Telegraph’s top scorer this week was Sophie Jamieson with 16.5. 
There are 20 questions and five bonuses ... so 25 points in all. See if you can do better than Lydia’s 20.

Big liner visits Southampton (see Question 19)
Picture courtesy of the Press Association

1. America’s war on ISIS has been named Operation _______ _______ . Fill in the blanks.
2. Who said this week: You go back, you go back, you go back, you go back, you go back, you go over, you go over. What could you have done? You do as much as you can.?
3. Judy Finnigan has claimed that footballer Ched Evans’s rape victim ‘had far too much to drink’. Which team does Evans play for? 
Bonus: On which TV programme was Finnigan appearing when she made the remarks?
4. The UK inflation rate for September was announced this week. What was it? 
5. McDonald’s went to great lengths to assure customers it does not use what in its burgers?
6. George and Amal Clooney are reported to have bought a house in which English county?
Bonus: Mrs Clooney is trying to get the Elgin Marbles returned to Greece. Where are the Marbles now?
7. Who said: “I have a number of mentally damaged individuals, who to be quite frank aren’t worth the minimum wage, but want to work."?
8. Australian Richard Flanagan won the 2014 Man Booker prize for literature. What was his book called?
Bonus: Who were allowed to enter the contest for the first time this year? 
9. Why was Daniela Liverani in the headlines?
10. Seventy-seven-year-old paedophile Roderick MacDonald is to be questioned over links to Madeleine McCann. Where was he arrested?
11. Chiles Cartwright was sacked from what?
12. Which two companies are paying women employees to freeze their eggs so they can work longer? (Half point for each)
13. England’s chief medical officer has called for smoking in parks to be outlawed. Name her.  
14. Which teams were playing in the international football match abandoned after a drone flew over the stadium? (Half point for each)
Bonus: What was the score when the game was abandoned?
15. Which honour did the Queen bestow on Angelina Jolie for her campaign work fighting sexual violence and for services to UK foreign policy?
16.  An official overseeing a nurse with Ebola on to a plane from Dallas to Atlanta without the protection of a hazmat suit has been nicknamed what by social media and newspapers?
Bonus: Name the nurse.
17. Who revealed that they knew that, in EastEnders, Ben Mitchell had been played by five different actors while Martin Fowler had been portrayed by three?
18. A cliff near which town has apparently developed a human face?
19. One of the world’s largest liners docked at Southampton this week on its way to Florida. What is it called?
20. Mark Reckless will be attempting to be UKIP’s second MP when he stands in a by-election next month in which constituency? Full name please.

Answers here 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Hacks reunite to celebrate Despatch's centenary

Party time in the King's Head
I spent the weekend chasing, and finding, ghosts in Darlington. On Saturday evening my wife and I joined 30 or so former colleagues to catch up and celebrate the 100th anniversary of a great regional newspaper - the Evening Despatch. The paper began life on September 5, 1914, in order to bring despatches from the frontline back to the people of County Durham. It was closed by Westminster Press in 1986. 

Growing old disgracefully 

I joined as chief sub in 1982. I was only there two and a half years but it was a very special time. The paper was edited by Robin Thompson, my old boss from my first paper in Tyneside. He was an inspiration - a young editor determined to make changes and make a noise. He turned the paper into a vibrant tabloid which broke amazing stories. His real achievement, though, was to surround himself with highly talented, enthusiastic young journalists and encourage them to ‘give it a go’. 

A couple of Despatch wraparounds from the 1980s ... long before other papers latched on to the idea
For a small evening paper in provincial Darlington it certainly threw up some stars. Some went on to be editors, including Tony Watson, the news-editor to my chief sub, who edited The Yorkshire Post and is now MD at the Press Association; Ian Holland who was editor at the Sunderland Echo before his life was cruelly cut short and Peter Greenwood who edited the Craven Herald. Some - Neil Hacking, Ged Clarke, Jimmy Gilchrist, Mark Tulip and Andy Birchall - became renowned broadcasters. Many went to nationals - including Mickey Burke, Steve Butterworth, Guy Keleney and John Lewis. Photographer Alan Gilliland headed up the Daily Telegraph’s art department when the paper was in the vanguard of information graphics. Some, such as Theresa Thomason (nee Kennedy), Jennifer Wilson, Alison Steel, Maxine Holland and Helen Logan chose the PR/marketing road. Others, Dot Butler and Stan Abbott, became successful entrepreneurs. Glyn Middleton founded television company True North Productions. The late Barry MacSweeney was a prolific poet, publishing more than two dozen titles between 1968 and 2000 when his drinking finally killed him. John Dean and Ged have also had books published. Some Despatch journalists, for example Sally Taylor, Andy Brown and Red Williams, carved out good careers in the regional press too. And Robin Thompson, of course, became one of the industry’s leading law specialists. There is a full list of all those I remember here.
I made many lifelong friends during my short time at the Despatch so when Ged suggested a reunion - in the King’s Head next to our old offices - how could I refuse. 
These things can sometimes fall flat, but it turned out to be a wonderful night. Although it was due to start at 7pm, many of us went for a walk down memory lane to the paper’s old pub, the Red Lion. Afterwards there were photos, pages and videos from the old days projected on to a screen and there were great speeches. Ged and Neil resurrected the brilliant Bye, Bye Evening Despatch (to the tune of American Pie). The drinks flowed too. I created some live pages in old Despatch style too (once a chief sub, always a chief sub).

The Despatch lives again ... a couple of souvenir pages from the night
It was a night to remember - with memories of by-elections, floods, murders and campaigns to save Darlington FC. Thanks to Ged for organising it … and to all those who turned up. In 2016, it will be 30 years since the Despatch closed. Maybe, if everyone's head has recovered, we should do it all again …

Those who came were: Robin and Pauline Thompson, Ged Clarke, Tony Watson, Peter and Pam Sands, Neil and Sue Hacking, Glyn and Helen Middleton, Peter and Carol Greenwood, Alison Steel, Alan Gilliland, Andy and Carole Brown, June Hawdon, Neil and Miranda Richardson, Hazel Kellett, Mark and Polly Tulip, Helen Logan, Sally Taylor, Stan and Linda Abbott, Teresa Thomason, Tony and Kathy Marshall, Maxine Holland, Maggie Weir, Dot and Derek Butler. The Northern Echo's editor Peter Barron and his wife Heather also called in to say hello.

Friday, 10 October 2014

The Mail subs' final news quiz

The Mail and Telegraph, with Mike Watson, trainees at the Manor
The Daily Mail trainee subs finished their formal training in Howden this week and are off to their placements. Beth Richardson is off to the Eastern Daily Press, Michael Owens is going to the Western Mail, Harry Slavin is headed to the Hull Daily Mail and Catherine Hardy and James Restall are going to the Daily Mail in Scotland. Good luck to them. There is no doubt they will do well. They, and the MailOnline trainees, had a week with me and Mike Watson interspersed with excellent sessions by Mail executives Jenny Ryan, Lara King and Alex Kay.

Daily Mail subbing trainees James Restall, Harry Slavin, me, Michael Owens, Beth Richardson and Catherine Hardy

The Daily Telegraph trainees enjoyed production training with Chris Gregory, a day with Mike Watson and today went to Newcastle Crown Court with Gary Willey. As it was the subs last night everyone got together for a farewell drink at the White Horse. 
Before that, though, we did the quiz. Congratulations to MailOnline’s Lydia Willgress who was top this week with 19.5 points out of 25. 
Top sub was Catherine Hardy with an impressive 17.5 but it wasn’t quite enough to catch Michael Owens who was top of the four weeks … and collected the Champagne. Top Telegraph trainees were James Rothwell and Rozina Sabur with 15.5.
See if you can do any better. There are 20 questions and five bonuses making a possible total of 25 points.

The original Dad's Army cast (see Question 19)
Picture courtesy of the Press Association

1. Shrien Dewani is in court in Cape Town charged with the murder of his wife Anni. In which city were the couple married?
Bonus: The court heard that Dewani searched which gay dating website the day after his wife died?
Bonus: What was his log-in name?
2. Where does Great British Bake Off winner Nancy Birtwhistle come from?
3. Former Man Utd captain Roy Keane has been making back page headlines with revelations from his autobiography. What is the book called?
Bonus: Which author co-wrote the book with Keane?
4. Why was John O’Keefe in the headlines this week?
5. Name the dog belonging to Spanish Ebola victim, Teresa Romero Ramos,  which caused locals to demonstrate when it was destroyed.
6. UKIP won the Clacton-on-Sea by-election and came second in an election in which other constituency?
7. Name the Syrian town on the border with Turkey where ISIS and Kurdish fighters, aided by US air strikes, are battling for control.
Bonus: Turkey’s president has warned that air strikes are not enough to defeat Isis? What is his name?
8. Father-of-16 Terry Harvey, 56, has died of a heart attack. Where did he live?
9. One of Lynsey de Paul’s biggest hits was played as her wicker coffin was carried into a North London cemetery chapel. Name the song.
Bonus: Who said this week: 'I am aware that in some of my recent photos I look somewhat unhealthy, but that’s what illness can do. I’m not going to worry about that, I’ll rest when I’m dead'?
10. Labour rebels reportedly want Alan Johnson to replace Ed Miliband as party leader. What position did Mr Johnson hold when Labour lost power in 2010?
11. Who was the first celebrity to be voted off Strictly Come Dancing?
12. After last week’s number plate row, Argentinian Police have released a photograph of another set of plates which were found in a car used by the BBC’s Top Gear programme. What did the plates spell?
13. Which two countries are Prince Charles and Camilla (Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall) visiting later this month in a move designed by the Foreign Office to 'strenghten co-operation in the fights against drugs and crime'? Half a point for each.
14. What was the parody Twitter account - mentioned in Kevin Pietersen’s autobiography - to which a number of England players have denied having access to?
15. Malaysian billionaire’s wife Pauline Chai reckons she can prove she lives in the UK and have her divorce case heard here. What is her evidence?
16. Jules Bianchi is seriously ill after a crash in the Japanese Grand Prix. Which racing team does he belong to?
17. Cambridge Classics professor Mary Beard said at the Cheltenham Literature Festival that people should take pride in growing …....... Fill in the missing word.
18. According to the International Monetary Fund which country now has the biggest economy in the world?
19. In the remake of Dad’s Army which actor will play the part of Sgt Wilson, originally portayed by John Le Mesurier?
20. Research to celebrate the UK launch of children’s literacy show Wallykazam! this week revealed the 50 most common misspelt words. Four of the words on the list began with A. Name one of them (and spell it correctly)

Answers here

Friday, 3 October 2014

This week's news quiz: 20 is your target

The Daily Telegraph trainees had sessions with Tony Johnston, David Banks and learned to shoot and edit video with Mark Batey at the Press Association's training HQ in Howden this week. 
Meanwhile the Mail trainees did journalism with Mike Watson and Fiona Webster, explored the world of photography with Martin Stephens and visited the Hull Daily Mail offices. The sports trainees worked a live Europa League session at PA's operation centre on Thursday night. 
As always the week ended with the news quiz. It is either getting easier or the message is getting through that journalists need to keep up to speed with the detail of the news. Three Mail trainees scored a highly impressive 20 out of 25. They were Michael Owens, James Restall and Lydia Willgress. Catherine Hardy came close to joining them with a score of 19. The Telegraph’s top scorer was Olivia Rudgard with 15.5, narrowly beating Izzy Fraser with 15. So, can you do any better? If you get more than 20 out of 25, you can give yourself a huge pat on the back. 

George Osborne: See Q1
Picture courtesy of the Press Association

1. David Cameron said he would raise the 40p tax rate threshold to £50,000. What is the current threshold?
Bonus: Cameron described William Hague as ‘our greatest living ……………...’ . Fill in the blank.
Bonus: If you go to bed with Nigel Farage on May 7 who, according to Cameron, will you wake up with?
Bonus: Who Tweeted 'Would rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on child care than that c*** Osborne quote them on choice?'
Bonus: It’s the turn of the Liberal Democrats to have their conference next. In which city will it be held?
2. Bill and Hillary Clinton became grandparents when daughter Chelsea gave birth. What is the baby called?
3. Which American Ryder Cup golfer publicly criticised his captain?
Bonus: In which US state will the next Ryder Cup be held?
4. Which event took place at the Aman Grand Canale?
5. Who was shocked to discover her great-great grandmother was killed in a crush at a clothes sale in East London?
6. Why was Kieran Conry in the headlines?
7. RAF jets are flying missions to Iraq from Cyprus. What is the name of their base?
8. From which position did Julia Pierson resign?
9. Whose book, There's Something I've Been Dying To Tell You, will be published next week?
10. Which cartoon is being accompanied by a cautionary note that it may depict scenes of ‘racial prejudice’?
11. Why was Malin Sahlen upset?
12. Pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong have adopted which symbol?
13. Stephen Fry revealed his cocaine habit in the third volume of his autobiography. What is it called?
14. Why was Arron Banks in the headlines?
15. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have started legal action against a photographer amid reports that he tried to take a picture of Prince George in which London park?
16. Almost 50 people were killed when a volcano erupted on which Japanese mountain?
17. Jay-Z, Beyonce and David Beckham watched a Champions Leage football match on Tuesday night. Which two teams were playing? (half point for each)
18. Who upset Argentina by driving a car with the registration number H982 FLK?
19. Thomas Eric Duncan became the first person in American to officially have what?
20. Who was appointed US editor-at-large of MailOnline?

Answers here 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Do you phone hack or phone-hack?

On the Daily Mail editorial training course we have been discussing hyphens. It started with why two-year has to have a hyphen. That's easy, two is plural year is singular, so you can't have two-year without a hyphen. I was also always taught to use a hyphen to avoid ambiguity. Is a black cab driver someone who drives a black-cab, or some one who is black and drives a cab? A trickier question was whether phone-hacking should take a hyphen. A look through the papers and websites certainly shows inconsistency. The Guardian offers this guidance: Phone hacking - no hyphen for the noun, but hyphenated when used adjectivally, eg the PCC responded with its customary vigour to the phone-hacking scandal. 
That makes sense to me but will some readers just see it as inconsistency? The Mail's stylebook doesn't refer specifically to phone hacking but the preferred style is no hyphen at all. As a general rule if there is no ambiguity, then there is no need for a hyphen. But sometimes a noun (phone) and a verb (hacking) become such a familiar phrase that they become one word e.g. snowboarding. The discussion then led to the likes of fell-walking and road-running. Do they take hyphens, are they one word or do they have no hyphens at all? Has phone hacking become so common place that it has become a word in its own right? 
Anyway, hyphens are clearly important - and topical. They even led to this unlikely spat (thanks @subedited) between The Guardian and the Sunday Sport yesterday . 

I can't say bellend or bell-end is a word I have ever used in copy but, unusually, I am with the Sport on this one.

If you are interested in pursuing hyphens further, here's the advice from a selection of style books: 

You do not need to hyphenate adverbial compounds where the adverb ends in '‐ly’, such as 'The stylishly dressed man’. Use a hyphen only when the adverb does not end in '‐ly’, such as ‘the well‐dressed man.’
When the same form of words appears after the noun, hyphenate only if there is a chance that without a hyphen the meaning is not clear. Adjectivally – ‘multi-million‐pound house’, ‘make-up‐free star’, but ‘the star was make-up free’. 

The Guardian
Our style is to use one word wherever possible. Hyphens tend to clutter up text (particularly when the computer breaks already hyphenated words at the end of lines). This is a widespread trend in the language: "The transition from space to hyphen to close juxtaposition reflects the progressive institutionalisation of the compound," as Rodney Huddleston puts it, in his inimitable pithy style, in his Introduction to the Grammar of English.
Inventions, ideas and new concepts often begin life as two words, then become hyphenated, before finally becoming accepted as one word. Why wait? "Wire-less" and "down-stairs" were once hyphenated, and some old-fashioned souls still hyphenate e-mail.
Words such as chatroom, frontbench, gameplan, housebuyer and standup are all one word in our publications, as are thinktank (not a tank that thinks), longlist (not necessarily a long list) and shortlist (which need not be short).
There is no need to use hyphens with most compound adjectives, where the meaning is clear and unambiguous without: civil rights movement, financial services sector, work inspection powers, etc. Hyphens should, however, be used to form short compound adjectives, eg two-tonne vessel, three-year deal, 19th-century artist. Also use hyphens where not using one would be ambiguous, eg to distinguish "black-cab drivers come under attack" from "black cab-drivers come under attack". A missing hyphen in a review of Chekhov's Three Sisters led us to refer to "the servant abusing Natasha", rather than "the servant-abusing Natasha".
Do not use hyphens after adverbs ending in -ly, eg a hotly disputed penalty, a constantly evolving newspaper, genetically modified food, etc, but hyphens are needed with short and common adverbs, eg ever-forgiving family, much-loved character, well-established principle of style (note, however, that in the construction "the principles of style are well established" there is no need to hyphenate).

When an adverb can also be an adjective (eg hard), the hyphen is required to avoid ambiguity – it's not a hard, pressed person, but a hard-pressed one; an ill-prepared report, rather than an ill, prepared one.
Use a hyphen in verbs where necessary to stop this kind of thing happening:
told: don't
panic buy
(While not panicking may well have been advisable, they had actually been told not to panic-buy.)
Prefixes such as macro, mega, micro, mini, multi, over, super and under rarely need hyphens: examples are listed separately. Follow Collins when a word or phrase is not listed
The Mirror
Avoid in verbs whose prefix is re, unless the verb begins with e or when the hyphen indicates a difference of meaning. Re-open, re-tested, re-structure, re-pay should be reopen, retested, restructure, repay. Re-educate, re-emphasise etc need a hyphen.
Un-named, un-known should be unnamed, unknown.
Never use hyphens in headlines and subdecks. If you need punctuation, a comma or dots will usually do.

The Irish Independent 

Use hyphens to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from two or more words. Use for:
Fractions: two-thirds, four-fifths, etc.
Most words that begin with anti, non and neo.
Any number used as an adjective - 10-hour, four-year-old boy, 15-man team.
Some titles: director-general, secretary-general,but not Attorney General, general secretary.
Compass quarters – south-west, north-east, etc.
Where a prefix vowel is followed by an identical vowel – re-elect, pre-empt, co-operate.
Compound adjectives, ie, when two or more words are used to modify a noun – eg, right-wing groups, balance-of payments difficulties. But when the adjectives follow the noun they describe, no hyphens are  needed – the right wing of the party, the State’s balance of payments.
Email does not take a hyphen.
–ly adverbs do not take hyphens, eg, it was a commonly observed phenomenon.
Some words have their meaning altered if hyphens are used. For instance, “recreation” is leisure activity, while “re-creation” means making something anew; “recover” means to get better, while “re-cover” is what you do with an old sofa.