Friday, 12 December 2014

Try your hand at this week's newsquiz

Here's this week's newsquiz. Last week the top submitted score was by Sophie Jamieson - a strong 16.5. Down the pub her family clocked up 21 ... which is very impressive. My pub colleagues rarely score higher than 14. There are 20 questions with five bonuses, so 25pts up for grabs. Let me know how you get on.

Torture has dominated the headlines (see Q1)
1. According to the Senate report on torture the CIA established a specialised detention centre, believed to be in Afghanistan, in April 2002. What was its name?
Bonus: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks, was subjected to a particular type of torture 183 times. What was it?
2. What was Tory MP Nigel Mills caught doing at a Commons works and pensions committee meeting?
3. Why was Natasha Bolter in the headlines?
4. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a dinner at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to raise money for what?
5. What did Jeanette Traverso say was ‘far below the threshold’ and ‘riddled with contradictions’
6. Chelsea FC lost their first game of the season at the weekend. Who scored the two goals that ended their record?

Bonus: Chelsea returned to winning ways midweek and won their Champions League group. Which team did they beat?
7. Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi received their Nobel Peace Prizes in which city?
8. Conservative peer Baroness Jenkin of Kennington apologised after saying what?
Bonus: Edinburgh Playhouse also apologised this week. What did it do?
9. What word has been used 92 million times on Twitter so far this year … a 500 per cent increase on 2013?
Bonus: Twitter also revealed the account that has the most followers, 61 million, worldwide. Who does the account belong to?
10. Who warned that the world may be returning to 'the dark ages of public executions' and urged people not to share gruesome films made by the Islamic State?
11. Who left hospital, after several days in intensive care, and declared: 'I'm well and recovered, and now I am preparing for the Olympics'?
12. What did Mary Portas, Sandi Toksvig and others do on Wednesday - as soon as it became legal? 
13. Which job, according to its departing incumbent, comes with only one instruction  … to carry it on 'as heretofore’?
14. Which club was suspended from all football with immediate effect?
15. According to the Health Survey for England, what percentage of men in England are now regularly taking prescription drugs?
16. Actor Ken Weatherwax, who was found dead in California at the age of 59, was best known for playing which TV character?
17. What was voted song of the year in the first BBC Music Awards?
Bonus: Who won British act of the Year?
18. Britons are living beyond their means more than at almost any point since the 1990s, according to the Government's fiscal watchdog OBR. What does OBR stand for?
19. Why was Ziad Abu Ein in the headlines?
20. Princess Charlene of Monaco gave birth to twins by caesarean section. What were they called? (Half point for each name)

Answers here

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Remembering Bob James

It is ten years ago this week that the newspaper industry lost Bob James. Bob was one of my journalism mentors - an inspiration who turned me on to typography. He was also the king-maker at Westminster Press and there can be no doubt that his influence helped me to land my first editorship. In 2006 he was posthumously selected by his peers as one of the top 40 people who had made a significant contribution to the regional Press in the last four decades. I know there are many other journalists who remember Bob with huge affection, so here is the article I wrote for the Press Gazette just after his death.

"To watch Bob James dilating on the characteristics of Bodoni, or explaining the ocular laws to an audience of aspiring sub-editors, has been one of life's particular pleasures. At such times his eyes sparkle just a little more brightly and his puckish smile glows a trifle more warmly, for he is a natural teacher with a real love of both typography and journalism.” Nicholas Herbert's retirement tribute to Bob James, who died at the age of 72 at his Sussex home on 8 December, will resonate with thousands of journalists who had the privilege to be taught by one of the newspaper world's truly great characters.
Bob will be remembered for many things. He was a journalist, a designer, a raconteur, a prolific gardening columnist (he was working on his final column the day before he died), an enthusiast for newspapers and one of the most likeable men you could ever wish to meet. But it is as a trainer and an authority on typography that he made his mark.
His knowledge of typefaces was legendary. Once, when working away with him, I was dispatched to buy two tubes of toothpaste. On my return Bob studied his tube and then handed it back saying: "I'm not using that."
"Why not?" I asked.
"Look at the way they have misused Optima," was his reply.
Others have similar memories. Mel Vasey, editor of the Wharfedale Observer, recalls that when Bob went for an eye test, he struggled to read the chart. "When he reached the bottom line he told the optician 'I can't read it, but I can tell you it is in Gill Sans Bold'." As anyone taught by Bob will know, Gill was chosen for its legibility rather than its readability.
Malcolm Starbrook, former editor of the Croydon Advertiser, remembers the James formula for casting off: column width multiplied by 12 multiplied by two and divided by point size, the result multiplied by 72 divided by the body size, and finally divide the whole thing by six ... and then deduct 10 per cent.
Starbrook recalls: "We were in a cafe and he was studying a bottle of HP sauce. 'Are you going to use that?' I asked. 'No,' he replied. 'I am just trying to work out how many lines of 7pt I can get on the label'."
It was all part of Bob's mischievous sense of humour. He always had a cherubic face, a cheery smile, and took such enjoyment in the world around him. His success as a trainer was not just that he had great knowledge but that he imparted it so generously and genuinely enjoyed the company of those he taught.
He would often begin a course with a stern warning: "While you are here never forget you are an ambassador for your newspaper. We have a huge amount of work to get through. So make sure you are on time first thing in the morning. And woe betide anyone who drinks at the bar until three in the morning ... without inviting me too." And he would always be there-organising card games, playing table tennis or singing the Lambton Worm, a ditty from his native north-east, to bemused southern colleagues.
Although he made Sussex his home, Bob never forgot his North-East roots. It was at The Northern Echo, where the rule was that all headlines must be in Bodoni, that his obsession with that typeface began. He would tell us: "A study of the typefaces of Giambattista Bodoni, the Parmesan printer, teaches us a lot about readability and legibility, and it is for this reason that I tend to talk quite a lot about Bodoni although I don't actually rate his typefaces for newspapers as their use is so limited."
Bob had a diverse journalistic career. While on National Service in the Royal Army Medical Corps, after training as a medical secretary, he became editor, advertisement manager, and sales rep of the Catterick Express (circulation 2,000) - "the Army's only newspaper".
He joined The Northern Echo in Darlington in 1949 and became sports editor of its sister paper the Evening Despatch . In the mid-1960s he headed south and worked at Harlow College, where he met his wife Sally, and with the NCTJ, before becoming group editorial development manager with Westminster Press in 1974.
It was a position he held until his semi-retirement in 1993.
Bob was also chairman of the judges for the British Press Awards, played a leading role in the Commonwealth Press Union and was co-author of The Compleat Sub-Editor and author of Newspaper Design Today .
There are few people you meet in a lifetime who leave a mark as deep as Bob James. I am hugely indebted to him. He was the king-maker who helped land me my first editorship and it was his vision that founded the training centre that I now run. But much more than that he just inspired me, like countless others, to be passionate about journalism. He leaves a huge hole ... but he also leaves a raft of journalists who understand that making newspapers can be a great joy.
Bob also leaves a widow, Sally, and two grown-up children, David and Eliza.

Since his death many eminent former pupils have paid tribute to Bob. Here is a selection: "Bob James was one of the great newspaper practitioners and thinkers of the post-war years. He could tell you with mathematical certainty which typefaces were best for a racing card, or a multi-column headline, or for a motorway services sign." - Allan Prosser 

"I have never met anyone who loved newspapers as much. He literally filled his house with them. Incredible." - Geoff Elliott

"When Bob taught sub-editing and headline writing, it was as it should be, a real craft, interlaced with wit, guile, art and humour. He imparted, brilliantly, the discipline of writing good headlines in the unforgiving medium of hot metal. And it is that very discipline that has served so many of Bob's 'graduates' so well over the years." - David Nicholson

"His passion for newspapers, and the fine detail of their design and content, was legendary. This passion was transmitted to the thousands of journalists who benefited from his training skills. He was also a very nice man and entertaining drinking partner, often deep into the small hours." - Mike Glover

 "Bob has forgotten more about newspaper design and the use of type than I could ever know. Now he can argue with Allen Hutt." - Ron Hunt

"I have shared in the fascination of typography but I could never reach the incredible knowledge Bob had." - Chris Cowley

"He was an old-fashioned man who embraced new technology eagerly. I shall always remember his expertise as a journalist who, like a few of us, turned to design consultancy and teaching." - Michael Crozier

 "I'll remember Bob sharing his love of clean design, great headlines, tight subbing, well-cropped pictures and suitable type dress. I can picture him now, em rule in hand, enthusing a room full of young hacks: his eyes twinkling, that beguiling northern lilt to his voice. We were Bob's apprentices. He was the master." - Paul Deal

There was also a piece on Bob on Hold The Front Page

Friday, 5 December 2014

Time for the newsquiz ...

Been keeping up with the news this week? Then why not test yourself with the newsquiz. Last week quiz-demon Lydia Willgress, who won the Champagne as overall MailOnline quiz winner on the training course I ran in October, submitted the top score with a very impressive 18. I reckon this week 15 out of 25 will be a good score. Let me know how you get on.

George Osborne's Autumn Statement as reported by The Guardian (Question 1)

1. In the Autumn Statement Chancellor George Osborne raised the Personal Tax Allowance to how much?
Bonus: What will be scrapped for under 12s next year and under 16s the year after?
2. Jeremy Thorpe, former leader of the Liberal Party, died this week after battling which disease for three decades?
Bonus: Thorpe resigned as Liberal leader in 1976. Jo Grimond briefly took control of the party as acting leader but who succeeded him?
3. Speaking in an HIV campaign video Prince Harry revealed one of his biggest fears. What did he say made him ‘ridiculously’ nervous? 
4. Which father and son walked away practically unhurt when their Audi A6 was in a collision in Hertfordshire? (half point for each name)
5. The new James Bond movie was announced this week … what is it to be called?
Bonus: Which role will Ralph Fiennes play in the film?
6. Paedophile paediatrician Myles Bradbury was jailed for 22 years for the sexual abuse of boy patients. At which hospital was he working?
7. Gordon Brown announced his retirement from Parliament this week after serving how many years as an MP? 
Bonus: He was the longest serving Chancellor of the Exchequer since William Gladstone. For how many years did Brown hold the position?
8. Why was Stephanie Roche in the headlines? 
9. Chief executive Mark Fox implied it was unlikely his company would pay normal tax in Britain for the next three years. Which company?
10. A survey revealed that, despite a Government pledge that bins would be emptied once a week, households on average have their rubbish cleared how often?
11. The owner of which football club was asked to resign after he was found to have breached the Football League’s  ‘fit and proper’ ownership test? 
12. Madonna hit the headlines by posing topless in a magazine. How old is Madonna?
13. What, according to Stephen Hawking, could spell the end of the human race?
Bonus: What do scientists, including Richard Dawkins and Brian Cox, believe could wipe out the human race?
14. Former policeman James Glanville said ‘he would do it all again’ even though he got the sack for it. What did he do?
15. Why did 50-year-old George Prior, from Los Angeles, put on two stones in a month?
16. What were the last words of 43-year-old Eric Garner?
17. Footballer Jimmy Bullard was the first camp-mate to be voted off I’m a Celebrity. Bullard played Premier League football for Hull City and two other teams. Name them (half point each)
18. The Court of Appeal ruled that a brain-damaged seven-year-old girl was not entitled to compensation because her mother’s ‘reckless’ behaviour was not a criminal offence. What did the mother do that was reckless but not criminal?
19. Why was Father Dennis Higgins branded ‘mean’ after his sermon at St Thomas More Catholic School in Buxton, Derbyshire?
20. Who was awarded the Plain English campaign’s annual Foot in Mouth award for talking gobbledygook?

Answers here

Friday, 28 November 2014

Try your hand at this week's newsquiz ...

Last week's newsquiz looked like being the hardest ever - a stream of average scores - until my old Northern Echo colleague Adam Batstone steamed in with an impressive 17, a personal best. Have a go at this week's challenge. As usual there are 20 questions with five bonuses ... so 25 up for grabs. I reckon 15 would be a good score. Let me know how you get on.

Tories in trouble: Mellor (Q8) and Mitchell (Q18)  
Photos courtesy of the Press Association

1. Home secretary Theresa May said British authorities have foiled how many terrorist plots since July 2005?
Bonus: She also said that in August Britain raised its threat level from 'substantial' to what?
2. Lewis Hamilton became the fourth Briton to win multiple Formula One world championships. Jackie Stewart has won three, but name the other two drivers who have won two. Half point for each.
Bonus: There were 19 races this season. How many of them did Hamilton win?
3. A tie worn by Ukip leader Nigel Farage during the Rochester and Strood by-election was reportedly sold out this week. What pattern did the tie show.
4. Which official British document is due to be axed on January 1?
5. Protests spread across America following the decision not to charge policeman Darren Wilson who shot a black teenager in Ferguson. What was the teenager’s name?
Bonus: In which US state is Ferguson?
6. The Government is asking the British Committee of Advertising Practice to consider banning which kind of adverts before the 9pm watershed?
7. According to the Food Standards Agency which supermarket has the worst record for selling chickens with a lethal food-poisoning bug?

Bonus: What did retired head teacher Paul Poli find in his Morrisons' sea bass dinner?
8. Former Cabinet minister David Mellor had a foul-mouthed argument with a London cab driver and accused him of ruining his day at Buckingham Palace. Why had he been there?

Bonus: How much was Mellor’s taxi fare?
9. Who compared the EU to ‘an ageing grandmother’ saying it is seen as ‘insensitive … if not downright harmful’?
10. The American wife of London financier Sir Chris Hohn was awarded a record-figure divorce settlement by a High Court judge. How much was it?
11. The Magical Journey Christmas show, designed by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, was forced to close after an avalanche of complaints? In which sporting venue is it based?
12. A notorious criminal, who was called 'Britain’s most dangerous man' by two Home Secretaries, died this week. Name him.
13. Which company announced it is launching a high-protein, high-calcium, low-sugar milk called Fairlife – at twice the price of a normal pint?

14. Why were brothers Mohommod Nawaz and Hamza Nawaz in the headlines?
15. Cricket was stunned by the death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes. Name one of the English county cricket sides he played for.
Bonus: It would have been his birthday on Sunday. How old would he have been?
16. A joint venture by Virgin and Stagecoach won which franchise?
17. The Baroness of Holland Park died this week. By what name was she better known?
18. Former chief whip Andrew Mitchell lost his ‘Plebgate’ High Court libel action against who?
19. Newsreader Michael Buerk told his I’m A Celebrity camp-mates about his biggest regrets. One was tracking down his father, what was the other? 
20. More than one million of these have been sold in the UK so far this year - for the first time since 1996. What are they?

Answers here 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Newspapers pay poignant tribute to Phil Hughes

Sometimes few words are needed. Australian and English newspapers pay poignant tribute to cricketer Phil Hughes who died age 25. RIP.

Thanks to all contributors including the excellent  and @suttonnick

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

How is the sub-editor doing in the digital age?

How is the sub-editing craft doing in the digital age? Well, subs may be thin on the ground but in some places, at least, good sub-editing is still alive and kicking. Here’s my article in the latest edition of InPublishing on how the Irish Independent group has taken out the production layer but worked hard to keep up subbing standards. 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Try your hand at this week's news quiz

Here is this week's news quiz. Scores last week ranged from a paltry five to an impressive 18.5 (although that was a collective score so doesn't really count). The locals in my pub got a poor 11. The top individual score sent to me was 14 by Charlie Taverner. As usual there are 20 questions with five bonus points - so a total of 25 up for grabs. Let me know how you get on.

Rochester victor Mark Reckless (see Q1)
Photograph courtesy of the Press Association 
1. Ukip won the Rochester by-election but which party came fifth?
Bonus: What three-word Tweet led to the resignation of shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry?
2. Which seaside town was turned into Walmington-on-Sea for the filming of Dad’s Army?
3. What killed at least eight people in Buffalo, New York?
4. Uday and Rassan Abu Jamal killed five people in an attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem. How were they related?
Bonus: Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg was among those murdered. In which British city was he born?
5. The British Board of Film Classification initially warned that a new film included 'dangerous behaviour, mild threat, mild sex references and bad language.’ Name the film.
6. Bono had five-hours of reconstructive surgery - including three metal plates and 18 screws - on his face. What happened to him?
7. Why was Cherry Valley farm in the headlines?
8. England’s rugby head coach has come under fire after his side lost to New Zealand and South Africa. Name him.
Bonus: Who are England playing tomorrow?
9. Why was Afton Elaine Burton in the headlines?
10. The Miss World contestant from which country was found dead?
11. Myleene Klass clashed with Labour leader Ed Miliband over his proposed Mansion Tax on which TV programme?
Bonus: A petition is now calling for Miss Klass to be dropped as the face of which retailer?
12. Wigan Athletic FC’s shirt sponsors pulled out following the controversial appointment of Malkay Machay as manager.  Name them.
Bonus: Who did Machay replace?
13. Which hospital has threatened to take legal action to evict elderly patients who are bed-blocking?
14. Chris Ronnie was found guilty of accepting just over £1m in backhanders from suppliers when he was chief executive of which firm?
15. What do lawyer Tamara Green and actresses Janice Dickinson and Louisa Moritz have in common?
16. Motown singer Jimmy Ruffin died aged 78. What was his only UK Top Ten hit?
17. Where did widow Maria Raybould take her husband’s ashes?
18. How much was RBS fined for computer failures that left millions of customers unable to access its accounts?
19. In which country were there mass protests demanding the government find 43 missing trainee teachers?
20. Who was stopped by police for allegedly riding a bike at 16mph in a 5mph area in Hyde Park?

Answers here

Saturday, 15 November 2014

After a month of parties, Phil makes a Swift exit

Phil, fifth from left on the bottom row, with Howden colleagues
One of Fleet Street’s most likeable characters, Phil Swift, was due to shuffle off into retirement this month. But in truth he didn’t shuffle at all - he went out with several large bangs. I guess it is hardly surprising that, despite being 67, a man who has worked for newspapers for almost half a century knows how to throw a good bash. I was working a long way from the party venues in Howden so couldn’t go (I was disappointed, but my liver was so happy). One event was fairly civilized with speeches and a meal, with Swifty true to form picking up the tab. Most of the revellers were in bed by 4am. But my spies tell me that at another one there was early-morning shirt swapping, people locked in cupboards and plenty of drinking shenanigans. The landlord gave up at 2.30am and Swifty baled out at 4.30am. Others didn’t turn-in until 7.15am. Some night, some stamina.

Charles Griffin's caricature
One of the highlights was a caricature of Phil by Daily Mirror cartoonist Charles Griffin. Charles and Phil worked together at the Mirror but had not seen each other for 20 years. One of Phil’s colleagues, Kay Harrison, sent a snatched picture of Phil to Griffin who replied saying: 'Thanks for the picture of Phil's dad. Now can I have one of Phil?'
Other gifts included an inscribed lighter from one of his former trainees Laura Wileman, a ball made of elastic bands to remind him of when they used to play late night indoor cricket matches in the Mirror newsroom, enough wine to start a business, 
books and Bose headphones.
I first met Phil when he joined PA Training a decade or so ago. I was able to use him as a senior consultant - doing production and training work, particularly in Ireland - and we became good friends.

Phil receives gifts at his desk
Phil’s career began as a Daily Mail news sub. He then spent more than 20 years at the Daily Mirror, sub-editing, chief sub-editing and night editing - before becoming features editor and deputy editor. He also worked at the People, the Sunday Mirror and Today. Up until his retirement he had been working for the Press Association team in Howden which was producing the Mirror’s pages.
Phil was a great newspaper production man - but he was also an excellent trainer. It is a testament to his popularity and mentoring skills that his many leaving parties were attended by dozens of people less than half his age - many of them his former trainees. I wish him a long and happy retirement - though I suspect he won’t be putting his feet up just yet.