Friday, 27 September 2013

The news quiz. Raz's impressive 19 to beat

The Daily Mail subbing trainees had a break from me this week and spent their time learning about features with Fiona Webster and about Photoshop and InDesign with Mike Brough. The Daily Telegraph trainees were honing their writing skills with Paul Jones and doing intensive media law with David Banks. Today they finished with the news quiz. Congratulations to the Telegraph's Raz Akkoc who scored a very impressive 19 out of 23. Last week's winner Mehreen Khan came second with 18. Top scoring Mail trainee was Tom Leece with 16.5. A very high scoring week. Was it because the quiz was easier - or because the trainees are reading the paper in more detail? I'd like to think it's the latter. See if you can beat 19 ... a tough call.


Yvette Cooper addresses the Labour conference (Q2). Pic by PA

1. Why was Natalie Faye Webb in the headlines?
2. At the Labour party conference Ed Miliband said he would freeze energy bills, causing which company to immediately say it would quit the UK as it would 'not be economically viable to continue'?
For a bonus, Yvette Cooper said a Labour government would have a 'zero tolerance' to domestic violence. What is Cooper's position in the Shadow Cabinet?
3. Angela Merkel swept to a third term as German Chancellor - what is the name of her party? (in English)
4. The first Premier League managerial casualty of the season was sacked after only five games. Who was he?
5. The responsibility for the attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi was claimed by a group, part of the Al Qaeda network, based in neighbouring Somalia. What is its name?

For a bonus, the son of the former Kenyan security minister has told how he led an American family and others to safety in the Mall. What is his name?
6. Spin doctor Damian McBride's has revealed the inner workings of Gordon Brown's time in Government but what is the full name of his book?
For a bonus, McBride's publisher Iain Dale was videoed scrapping with a man on Brighton sea front. What was the man protesting about?
7. Jeff Daniels won best actor at the Emmys for his role in which television drama?
8. The Queen was pictured sitting with John Key, the New Zealand prime minister, in a cluttered living room with photo frames, toy dogs and an electric heater. Where was the picture taken?
9. Heston Blumenthal was awarded another Michelin Guide star, bringing his total to how many?
10. Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine revealed her husband declined to appear on Desert Island Discs because he couldn't decide which Richard Wagner work to choose. Who is Sarah Vine's husband?
11. Daily Telegraph columnist Fraser Nelson also edits which magazine?
12. Stephen Lee has been banned for match fixing by the World Professional Billards and Snooker Association. How long is his ban?
13. What temperature did BBC Breakfast's Carol Kirkwood forecast (wrongly) that it was going to be in Norwich on Wednesday?
14. Shoppers will soon be able to order goods from eBay and pick them up from where?

15. Usain Bolt has signed an extended £6million a year contract with which company?
16. Blackberry has agreed to be sold for £3billion to a consortium led by which company?
17. The America's Cup saw one of the most remarkable sporting comebacks of all time, with America beating New Zealand 9-8 after being 8-1 down. Where was the race held?
18. A new James Bond novel, written by William Boyd, was published this week. What is it called?
19. Who was photographed wearing 'a £245 Bassey Jacquard floral print dress and LK Bennett shoes'?
20. Former teacher Victoria Meppen-Walter committed suicide, blaming a doctor for leaving her scarred and in agony. What was the name of the renowned clinic were the operation took place.


Sunday, 22 September 2013

Headline of the week .. Ozil's oozing conk

There have been some interesting headers kicking around this week but my tabloid headline of the week has to be this one from The Sun.


The paper has always been partial to a rhyming headline - and getting conk and bonk into one heading is a tabloid sub-editor's dream. 

I was with the Daily Mail's subbing trainees this week and I set them the task of examining Wednesday's papers to find the best, worst, laziest and most vivid headlines of the day. They were divided over 'Rexecuted', The Sun's splash on Prince William's guard dogs being put down.



I quite liked it ... Rex as a dog's name and, of course, king. But whereas some chose it as the best pun of the day, others thought it was the worst. The dogs, they said, are called Brus and Blade. 

Back on the sporting front there were lots of puns on Jose Mourinho's 'shell shocked rotten eggs' being 'scrambled' and 'fried' by Basle on Wednesday night.




I preferred 'Basle Faulty'. It was fairly obvious I guess (and I'm sure I have seen it before) but it worked well with the comical picture of Mourinho in the Express. The Mail used it too.



My favourite footballing pun of the week though was in The Daily Telegraph'Juan for the road' sums up Mata's position perfectly in only four words.

The ambiguous headline of the week was this one from the BBC website.



It reminds me of the infamous 'Police help rape victim'. It also encouraged Simon Bougourd to send me this ...


Talking of elephants, The Northern Echo's deputy editor Chris Lloyd also posted this from the archives ...



Chris suggested that it might be the greatest headline to have ever appeared in the paper ... and had the temerity to asked if I had written it. Even before my time that one.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Interstate helps give Mirror a fresher look

The old Mirror
... and the new













Page 6 explaining the blank pages

I woke up to a fresher Daily Mirror today ... yet another makeover in its long history. The blank pages on pages two and three caused a bit of a stir. These are a way of getting the paper talked about - and are explained in grand terms on Page 6. 


The new back
... and the old
















The gimmick aside, the paper has a much cleaner look.
I was never a big fan of the excessive Spanish-influenced coloured pages, particularly on sport, or the italic black sans caps. Interestingly, the Mirror has chosen Interstate for its headlines. There are many who thought the font had its day. The typeface, designed by Tobias Frere-Jones in the 1990s, is based on the font used on American roadsigns. It was de-rigueur ten years ago, with the Mail, Telegraph and Express all using it as their main sans display font. Many regional papers also use it and by 2006 it had pushed its way into the list of the ten most used newspaper typefaces. In the corporate world Sainsbury's was one of the many companies that used it as its brand. Inevitably in the design world its prevalence quickly made it unfashionable - some said boring - and it fell out of favour almost as swiftly as it arrived. Even Sainsbury's ditched it. Today the Mirror has resurrected the font, using the full family all the way through the paper, in news, sport and features, with a slab serif as a contrast for some straplines. And it works. It's always been a clean, legible font. Its greatest quality is that it has a good count so that even with big display, the subs can write meaningful headlines. I am not sure why the Mirror goes for big caps headlines on inside pages (my thoughts on caps are here) or why sport has retained the italics. But overall today's Mirror is a neater, more modern and easier to read newspaper than it was last week.  


Editor Lloyd Embley's vision of the new Mirror is explained here ... using cats!

Trainee Jim gets splash in first week

Well done to Jim Norton for today's Scottish Daily Mail splash. Jim is a trainee who was on the reporting course in Derry Street last week. This week he has a Page 1 byline. It's rewarding to see the trainees making a difference so soon ... and great to see the Mail giving them the opportunity. First of many.

A breakdown of a sub-editor's day

I have been training subs for the Daily Mail this week - so this piece on what subs actually do, by Andy Bodle in The Guardian, was timely as well as being a good read. As he says, it's a good excuse to run some funny cock-ups. I gave my trainees a detailed job description for subs but have never thought about dividing the average day into percentages before. Andy reckons this is how he spends his time at the newspaper coalface:

Cutting copy 40%
Rewriting 25%
Headlines, captions, standfirsts etc 14%
Punctuation 3%
Fact checking 3%
Spell checking 2%
Grammar checking 2%
Style 2%
Removing inconsistencies and tautologies 2%
Styling the text 2%
Legals 1%
Converting measurements, temperatures etc 1%
Making tenses consistent 1%
Removing cliches 1%
Bad line breaks, widows etc 1%

Difficult to argue with that. Of course Andy is talking about subbing on a national newspaper. On a regional the subs also take responsibility for the page layout, page-finishing, proof-reading and, in many cases, the web. It's more than 20 years since I have chief-subbed a paper so I am ill equipped to say how regional or local paper subs divide their time. But if anyone sitting in a hub or on a local subs desk fancies breaking down their day, let me know. If you can find the time of course.

Friday, 20 September 2013

This week's news quiz: Mehreen's 15 to beat

I have had a really enjoyable few days at PA's headquarters in Howden with the Daily Mail's trainee subs this week. The trainees from The Daily Telegraph are also here so we got together for the end of week news quiz. Congratulations to the Telegraph's Mehreen Khan who scored 15 out of a possible 23 and the Mail's Rachael Day who came second with 14.5.
See if you can do any better ... 
The Daily Mirror - see question 17

1. What controversial word did David Cameron say 'was not motivated by hate'?
2. Who, in interviews this week, said: 'I just wanted to amuse people'?
3. The cruise ship Costa Concordia has been uprighted near which Italian island? And for a bonus point what is the name of the Captain who was in charge the night the ship capsized?
4. The Liberal Democrats party conference was held in Glasgow this week. Soon it will be the Tory party conference. Where will that be held?
For a bonus point Danny Alexander warned the conference that there would be no 'bonanza' on public spending. What is Mr Alexander's cabinet position?
5. A BBC news broadcaster was seen reading from a ream of A4 photocopying paper instead of an iPad. Who was he?
6. Stella McCartney has designed headscarves to be given free to cancer patients at which hospital?
7. Why was Darcy in trouble at a Wiltshire wedding?
8. Ricky Wilson, lead singer of the Kaiser Chiefs, has joined what?
9. Who was robbed at gunpoint in Marylebone? 
10. What is coulrophobia? 
11. The Washington DC SWAT team was orderered not to intervene in the shootings at the naval yard. What does SWAT stand for?
And for a  bonus, name the man who shot 12 people.
12. French parents who put their daughter in a beauty pageant could be fined up to €30,000 if the girl is under what age?
13. What were the names of the two dogs, assigned to guard Prince William, who were put down by the MoD? Half point each.
14. Who put its 12.5% rise in profits down to a partnership with pop star Rihanna?
15. David Cameron was pictured dozing on Alice Sheffield's bed. How is he related to her?
16. Ken Norton, the man who famously broke Mohammed Ali's jaw, died this week. How old was he?
17. The Daily Mirror is undergoing a major redesign. Who is the editor of the Daily Mirror?
18. What are Premier League footballers being urged to wear this weekend?
19. America's biggest bank received a fine of £570m for its role in the London Whale trading scandal. Who is America's biggest bank?
20. A 23-year-old man was hit on the head with a brick and knifed in the back in Colindale, NW London. His attackers stole his mobile phone and what else?

Friday, 13 September 2013

Stephen wins Mail news quiz and Champagne

Off to the far flung corners. Mail trainees: Standing, Flora Bradley-Watson, Stephen Johns, Annabel Grossman, Emily Kent Smith, Sam Creighton, Tania Steere. Seated,  Jim Norton, Stephanie Linning, Samantha Sharman, Sian Boyle.
The Daily Mail reporting trainees left Kensington today to head off to their placements. They will spend a few month at newspapers including the Evening Standard, the Scottish Daily Mail, the Belfast Telegraph, Hull Daily Mail, The Sentinel in Stoke and the Manchester Evening News. They will then work in a news agency before returning to the Mail next spring. This week they brought in some cracking tales - many of which have been snapped up by the newsdesk. They also had sessions with senior Mail journalists Quentin Letts, Peter Wright, Neil Darbyshire and Alex Brummer, a day with the legal department and a night with many former trainees in the Greyhound pub. As always we finished with a news quiz. Stephen Johns won for the second week in a row, with a score of 13 out of 22, and collected the weekly scratch card and the overall prize - a bottle of Champagne. Well done Stephen. Next week I will be in Howden with the Mail's trainee subs who are at the Press Association's northern HQ for the next four weeks … so there will be plenty more news quizzes to look forward to. The quiz was also done by the Daily Telegraph course in Howden where the top score was 14 by Oliver Duggan. Let me know if you beat it. 

1. Who did Newsnight editor Ian Katz say was 'boring, snoring' in a tweet? 
2. England drew their World Cup qualifier 0-0 with Ukraine in Kiev to go top of Group H … with how many points?
3. Plastic banknotes could be introduced into the UK by 2016. The proposal is that the first £5 note will feature a portrait of whom?
4. Six UK universities were named in the Top 20 in the world. But which was the highest of the UK entrants, coming in at 3rd? For a bonus point, which was top?
5. Nigel Evans resigned from which role?
6. The rate of UK unemployment dropped to what percentage?
7. There will be a spin-off Harry Potter film, with a screenplay written by JK Rowling. What is it to be called?
8. Every UK adult will be allowed to buy Royal Mail shares for what minimum value?
9. Who is the eldest contestant in this year's Strictly Come Dancing? For a bonus point, what age?
10. According to the annual Price of Football Survey which is the most expensive football team in the Premier League to support?
11. Which Hollywood superstar has been on jury service this week?
12. The Voyager probe has left the Solar System and entered what?
13. What did Conservative MP Ian Liddell-Grainger find on his doorstep?
14. The Public Accounts Committee saw the BBC Trust under fire - who chaired the committee?
15. The Trades Union Congress was held in which town?
16. Tony Abbott was elected Prime Minister of which country?
17. The Director of Public Prosecutions insisted the decision to prosecute Michael Le Vell was the right one. Who is the DPP?
18. Brian Sollitt, who died this week, was famous for making what?
19. Rafael Nadal won the US open, meaning he needs only four more victories to equal Roger Federer's all time Grand Slam record. What is that record?
20. Peter Capaldi is to be the latest actor to play Doctor Who. How many official doctors have there been before Capaldi? 


Friday, 6 September 2013

News quiz is back: Stephen's 14 to beat

I have had an enjoyable week with the new intake of Daily Mail reporting trainees in Northcliffe House, Kensington, this week. They have been finding stories, having their work analysed in detail and learning the tricks of the trade from experienced hands such as Sue Ryan, Christian Gysin, David Williams, John Wellington, Ben Taylor, Alex Bannister and Peter Campbell. Today they are doing interviews for a feature so we did the news quiz a little early. The quiz is a bit of fun at the end of an intense week but is also designed to ensure the trainees are reading the papers in detail - and not just skimming. This week's scratchcard was won by Stephen Johns who scored a commendable 14 out of 22. See if you can do any better ...

Sir David Frost (See Q15)
Picture courtesy of the Press Association

1. In which city is this year's G20 summit taking place?
And, for a bonus point, what is the name of the building where it is being held? 
2. Why was Sophie Hannah in the news?
3. Scarlett Johansson was on the red carpet in Venice at the premiere of her new film. What is it called?
4. Wonga announced profits of £1.2 million a week. It was also revealed that 55.5 per cent of its customers are … what?
5. Tottenham Hotspur were the biggest spenders in the Premier League transfer window with £103million … but who spent the least?
6. Who is leaving Match of the Day after 22 years?
7. Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell is denying charges of rape at which court?
8. The Universal Credit plan has been branded unrealistic by the National Audit Office - leading to criticism of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Who is the secretary of State for Work and Pensions?
9. The Government announced that four prisons are to be closed by next March. They include Dorchester, Blundeston and Northallerton. Which is the fourth?
10. Who announced that they will retire at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics?
11. Which comedian left only £8,000 when he died earlier this year?
12. Sarah Sands edits which newspaper?
13. Name the male actor who will play the character Christian Gayle in 50 Shades of Grey.
14. At which prestigious venue did the GQ Men of the Year awards take place?
15. Sir David Frost died at the weekend on the Queen Elizabeth that had set sail from Southampton. To which city was it headed?
And, for a bonus point, how old was Sir David?
16. Why was Richard Markham in the news?
17. Give the full name of the President of Syria.
18.  Deborah Manger caused a stir this week in the Great British Bake Off. Why?
19. Name the two teaching unions who are planning to strike in October (half point each).
20. Which company has launched the first smart watch - which is both a phone and a camera?

Answers here