Monday, 25 October 2010

Josie finds time to rattle off a front page story

Telegraph trainee Josie Ensor finished our course on Thursday and spent the weekend packing and travelling to start her regional placement in Cardiff today. But that didn't stop her getting a byline on a front page story in today's Telegraph. Josie had a contact with the family and graciously said she had a couple of good trainers along the way - but news instinct, determination and hard work are qualities that can't be taught. Very impressive.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Always look on the bright side of the newsroom

Since August I have been with trainees from the Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph in Howden and London. They were all hand-picked from journalism colleges and their talent is beyond doubt. We have certainly seen some stars of the not-too-distant future. But, as a couple of guests confirmed, journalism is as much about attitude as it is about skill. Be there early, be willing to go the extra yard, have an appetite for taking on projects and take the brickbats and the long hours on the chin. As Quentin Letts told the trainees, whatever you do, don't cry. When Mail news-editor Ben Taylor was asked what he wanted from them, he told them to smile. He enjoyed his job and didn't want to be surrounded by miserable people, he explained. And Sunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver, passing briefly through Howden, told them it "was all about relationships." Be nice to people, both your colleagues and those you deal with professionally, she said. Good advice. We have all worked with newsroom curmudgeons, determined to inflict their misery on all around them. That doesn't mean there shouldn't be conflict, disagreements, passionate arguments - all of these are the lifeblood of newspapers - but however tough it gets we shouldn't roll up every day looking as if we have lost a shilling and found a sixpence. So, even if the system doesn't work, you haven't had a pay rise in three years, half of your colleagues have been made redundant and you have a pile of Press Releases to plough through, be nice to others. Mind you, such advice clearly passed Nick Robinson by yesterday.  

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Farewell to 'young lions' of the Daily Telegraph

A post course drink with the Telegraph trainees: From my left - Donna, trainer Mike Watson, Raf, Sarah with the Champagne, Matthew and Emily. Josie escaped early. 

How daunting is this? As a trainee journalist, you have three days to come up with three ideas for new Daily Telegraph sections, write them, design the publications, the websites and the apps, make them profitable, deliver a marketing strategy and present it all in the boardroom to the paper's senior executives. That's what the Telegraph's trainees did this week as a culmination of their seven-week course with Press Association Training.  And what a professional job they did too. Donna Bowater, Josie Ensor, Emily Gosden, Matthew Holehouse, Sarah Rainey and Raf Sanchez are now off to PA and regional papers in Liverpool, Cardiff and Glasgow to get down to their day jobs as reporters. Next year, their training complete, they will be back at the Telegraph. Before they left they had one more daunting task - the final newsquiz. Well done to Matthew Holehouse for an impressive weekly total of 17 points. Sarah Rainey was the star, though, winning the champagne for consistently brilliant results over the seven weeks and finishing with 98 points, 14 ahead of Matthew in second place. Good luck to them all. See how you do. Seventeen out of 23 to beat.

Newsquiz October 22
1. What is the name of the charity offering £200 to drug addicts if they have a vasectomy?
2. Chilean President Sebastian Pinera gave David Cameron a piece of rock and in return Cameron gave the president 33 bottles of Real Ale and a book. What was the title of the book?
3. What is the real name of the stately home where Downton Abbey is filmed?
4. Which airport was blockaded as part of the ongoing French protests?
5. Britain currently has two operational aircraft carriers. One is Ark Royal, name the other.
6. Name the two aircraft carriers that will be built to replace them (one point for each).
7. Which RAF base is to close after the Government cancelled orders for the new Nimrod aircraft?
8. Which British wildlife animal is back from the brink of extinction with its numbers increasing tenfold in 30 years. For a bonus point name the only English county where this creature has not returned.
9. What discovery has spurred Japan's foreign ministry to order a round of belt-tightening? 
10. The TV licence has been frozen for 6 years, how much does it cost?
11. To which hospital was Margaret Thatcher admitted?
12. The pension age for men and women is to go up to 66. In which year will the changes take effect?
13. The outgoing director general of the CBI, Richard Lambert, described the Government's cuts as painful but essential. Before joining the CBI which newspaper did Lambert edit?
14. The TUC was less than enthusiastic about the Government's cuts ... who is the TUC General Secretary?
15. Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has been denied a residence permit by which country?
16. What has been credited with helping poetry make a comeback in schools?
17. A product favoured by country folk is in short supply following a lorry hijack on the M62. What is it?
18. Why did seven secret servicemen burst into Nigella Lawson's kitchen?
19. Why were A-Team characters BA Baracus, the Face and Murdock in the news?
20. Who won best newcomer in the Mobo awards? And, for a bonus, what does Mobo stand for?

Friday, 15 October 2010

Young journalists DO read the papers after all

Good scores from The Daily Telegraph trainees in the newsquiz this week. Either the questions are getting easier or, despite Roy Greenslade's claims to the contrary, journalism trainees really are reading the papers. They certainly do on our courses. Well done to Emily Gosden for her 15.5 out of 21. Nobody got less than 12 ... which is a big step forward. 

Meanwhile Daily Mail newsquiz champions Fiona Roberts and Jennie Agg, who are off on their subbing placements to Carlisle and Stoke this weekend, sent me this photograph of them enjoying their prize. See how you do in this week's test. Anything less than 12 out of 21 and Mr Greenslade and I will be less than impressed.

1. Just before she died Claire Rayner said: "Tell David Cameron that if he ...... .. my beloved NHS I'll come back and bloody haunt him." What are the two missing words?
2. Who changed their new logo back to its original one after only one week due to negative reaction on the internet?
3.  Howard Jacobson won this year's Booker prize ... what was the title of his book?
4.  Which Euro 2012 football game was abandoned after fans disrupted the game?
5.  Name the first miner rescued in Chile.
6.  And name the last.
7. The camp where relatives and friends waited for the miners was called Camp Esperanza. What does Esperanza mean?
8. Who was the first celebrity to be kicked off the current series of Strictly Come Dancing?
9. Lloyds Bank is to lose a further 4,500 jobs as part of its restructuring programme. This brings the total jobs lost to 22,000 since its merger with which other bank?
10. The inquest into the victims of the 7/7 London bombings is being held at which court?
11. Apart from the bombers, how many people were killed in the bombings?
12. Who is Max Brick's partner and why were they in the news (need both to get one point)?
13. Who is the shadow health secretary?
14. Aid worker Linda Norgrove was working for which US based agency when she was killed?
15. Before the intervention of a Texas court, Liverpool FC looked like it was about to be sold to the owners of Boston Red Sox, NESV. What does NESV stand for?
16. Who is the editor of the Sunday Mirror?
17. What was the name of the website that Robert Tyler was ordered to hand over this week?
18. Who is the author of the report Securing a Sustainable Future for Higher Education. For a bonus point which company did he resign from as chief executive in 2008 having started as an apprentice there 42 years earlier?
19. What does Quango stand for?
20. How old was Harry Webb on Friday October 14?

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Mail subs off to the regions

On their way: trainee subs Ben Winstanley, Jennie Agg, Anna Croall
 (back row) Dawn Wheatley, Fiona Roberts and Alex Richman (front). Picture by Andy Drinkwater 

We said goodbye to the six trainee subs from the Daily Mail today. After four weeks' training in Howden and three days in London, they now head off for placements at the Press Association, The Evening Standard, The Irish News, Stoke Sentinel, Hull Daily Mail and News and Star in Carlisle. All being well, they will end up on the Mail subs desk next year. It has been an enjoyable few weeks. The trainees, all very talented, have been learning the craft of sub-editing to national newspaper standard. Pronouns, apostrophes, stylebooks, structure, accuracy, intros, captions, tight-editing, news values, headlines, layout, picture manipulation and cropping, graphics, InDesign, Photoshop and much more have been on the agenda. It is the eighth consecutive year that the Mail has recruited and trained its own subs in this way. The Sun has also run similar courses. It clearly works. So while the rest of the industry is jettisoning sub-editors in the name of economy and efficiency, the daily papers that sell the most continue to invest in them. Coincidence? I don't think so.

The picture we have all been waiting for ...

... the first man freed from the mine underneath the Atacama Desert. And if there was ever an excuse for wiping out your whole front page, this was it. The dilemma for the picture editor though was not the size ... but the crop. Do you focus in on the hug, leave in the crowd or even the capsule? Do you go horizontal or vertical? In the end, just use it big. I would usually advocate the tight crop but in this picture the setting is pretty compelling and the capsule really needs to be in. But there are other contenders for the cover too - particularly the defiant stance of the oldest miner 63-year-old Mario Heredia whose wife had asked him to retire just days before he was trapped. Santiago's Las Ultimas Noticias used it really well. Nice headline too - certainly better than Free at last. 

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

I want to be a travel writer ....

How many times have you heard that from people who want to slip into the backdoor and become great writers?  Many thanks to David Kernek for drawing my attention to this very helpful videoI now know how to answer them. 

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Headlines lost on the young at heart

This headline from the Sun about the X-Factor - Lloyd, Cole and the Commotion - gave me a chuckle. But it did strike me that anyone under 35, the people the coverage is mainly aimed at, just wouldn't get it. I was with the Daily Mail trainee subs this week - and it certainly drew blank looks all round. Lloyd Cole and the Commotion (a 1980s pop band) weren't even a household name in their brief heyday. Lawrence Donegan, the band's bass player, had a similar experience with his Guardian colleagues - who had no idea what the headline meant - and clearly weren't aware that they were working alongside a famous musical icon. Lawrence, who also played bass in the Bluebells (you must remember Young at Heart), switched careers from pop star to journalist, starting with a brief spell at The Northern Echo during my tenure. Writing headlines that can be understood by all readers is something we deal with on our subbing courses ... and I have plenty of examples that are just too cryptic. Remember the Clitheroe Kid? Probably not. He certainly wasn't famous enough for many people to get the pun in this Mirror headline from 2007. At least it still makes sense, even if you don't get the reference to the radio show from more than 40 years ago. But I have trainees who are regularly baffled by old song titles, Cockney rhyming slang and archaic phrases. The headline below from the Sun, quite brilliant though it is, wasn't understood by any of the paper's last intake of 20-somethings. "But our parents didn't do nursery rhymes with us," they said. Good point.  
Footnote: Lawrence Donegan is the Guardian's golf correspondent and has written four books including an enjoyable insight into Irish newspapers, No News at Throat Lake. It's not strictly a novel but I have added it to our ever-growing list of books based on newspapers anyway. Laugh out loud stuff.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Mail pair collect quiz Champagne - 16 to beat

The burnt out pier at Hastings (see Question 7)

The Daily Mail subbing trainees leave Howden today for three days in London before they head off for a few months subbing experience in the regionals. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find them placements where they still have a serious  subbing operation ... but we have just about managed. Congratulations to Jennie Agg and Fiona Roberts who were overall winners in the weekly newsquiz - and shared the bottle of Champagne. Fiona was the top Mail trainee this week with 14pts but the Telegraph's Sarah Rainey marches  on relentlessly with another top score of 16. See if you can do better. Possible 22 points this week as there are two bonus questions.

1. Which country is leading the medal table at the Commonwealth Games
2. Who is to be the first parliamentarian to face trial on charges arising from the expenses scandal.
3. Prince William carried out his first rescue since qualifying as a helicopter search pilot. In which bay?
4. David Cameron used the words "Your country needs you." Who was he quoting?
5. Which European river is threatened by a flood of toxic sludge?
6. Who is listed as the most powerful woman on the planet in the latest Forbes list? And for a bonus what number was the Queen?
7. Hasting Pier burnt down this week .. but what year did it open?
8. Name the rogue trader ordered to pay back £4 billion.
9. A politician who won libel damages from the News of the World is on trial for perjury. Name him.
10. What attraction were the four Britons who died in a plane crash in Peru hoping to see?
11. Which computer worm may have infected Iran's nuclear programme?
12. At what annual figure will a household's benefits be capped?
13. In which American city will the next Ryder Cup be played?
14. Which expensive wine was served at a dinner to mark the Tory treasurer's retirement?
15. Colourful potatoes are in the news. Which variety is Sainsbury's selling?
16. What will Britain's population be in 2027, according to official statistics? And for a bonus point, also from the National Office of Statistics, what is the average age of today's first-time UK bride?
17. What was the name of Norman Wisdom's employer in his most famous comedy films including A Square Peg and the Early Bird?
18. Who is Ann Widdecombe's partner in Strictly Come Dancing?
19. Robert Edwards was in the headlines. Why?
20. Rejected X-factor singer Gamu Nhengu is facing deportation to which country?

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The case against upper case

The advance of lower case - road signs, health warnings and even tabloid headlines now embrace the more legible style

A timely piece on The Guardian's style blog this week. I had just finished a typography session with the Daily Mail trainees, banging on about why the world was rightly becoming lower case, when David Marsh posted his case against uppercase.
Middle market newspapers, I am pleased to say, are almost wholly lower case in their display typography these days. The Mail still goes for caps for impact on Page 1, but is just about exclusively lower case inside. 
Even the red tops have moved towards more lower case headlines. Why? Partly because capitals are harder to read. Anyone who went on a Bob James course, and there were hundreds, will have it drummed into us that lower case letter structures and word shapes are more distinctive - the ascenders, descenders and other projecting parts increasing clarity. Caps also eat up more white space, which is essential to legibility. Equally important is the fact that caps are less economical and therefore we get fewer meaningful words. The legacy of local newspapers trying to copy the black sans caps of The Sun and the Mirror, has been thousands of meaningless headlines in which none of the key words fit. I recently came across a local newspaper that carried this headline in 230pt Helvetica Neue caps on Page 1:
It was a story about a shopper who had damaged a tyre in a supermarket car park and was cross because the store would pay up the £66.30 to replace it. Barely worth one deck of 14pt, let alone hitting the poor reader across the head with a dull mallet. 
Marsh mentions the lower case font now used on British road signs. When you are darting between the lorries on the A1 in the rain and dark. legibility is critical. A wide open sans, lower case, with plenty of background space is just what is needed. He might have also mentioned the warning notices on cigarette packets - all lower case by edict of European parliament. 
Caps are still needed of course, as Marsh's column illustrates vividly. 'I had to help my uncle Jack off a horse' really does need a capital J. 

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Hardest news quiz yet?

The Mail and Telegraph trainees thought the newsquiz was difficult this week ... and it was reflected in their scores. No problem for the Telegraph's Sarah Rainey, though, who won again with 14. Jennie Agg was the top Mail trainee with 11.5. See if you can do any better.
David Miliband and his wife (see question 6)
1. What is the nickname of the cage specially built to help rescue the 33 trapped Chilean miners?
2. Who is the Defence Secretary?
3 Why was the name Gordon Bennett in the news?
4. Who is sixth in line to the throne?
5. In Round 4 of the Labour leadership election what percentage of the vote was won by Ed Miliband? You must give exact figure to nearest decimal point.
6. Name David Miliband's wife (must get both names for a point).
7. What is Ed Miliband's constituency?
8. The Ryder Cup started this week. Who is the captain of the American team?
9.  Who has fallen foul of the law and has had to take down a giant advertising banner erected at the Ryder Cup?
10. What is ITV's new Sunday night drama series called?
11. What were barrister Mark Saunders's last five words?
12.  Kelsey Martinovich was wrongly announced as the winner of Australia's Next Top Model  - who was the host of the programme?
13. David Cameron chose Dulce et Decorum Est  as his favourite poem. Who wrote it?
14. Fearne Cotton, Denise van Outen and Alexandra Burke are tackling a charity trek in aid of breast cancer in which country?
15. Prof Martyn Evans was fined £155 for getting off a train, a stop early.  Where did he get off?
16. Blackberry has unveiled its version of the iPad, what is it called?
17. Fraser Nelson writes a column for the News of the World but also edits which magazine?
18. This is a spelling question. When your pet is ill you take it to the vet. Spell the word that vet is short for.
19. How much did it cost to clean the Queen's chandeliers?
20. In which river did Segway millionaire Jimi Heselden die?