Monday, 24 March 2014

Looking for a new look? Look no further

One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is working on the redesign of newspaper and magazine titles. Over the years Mike Brough and I have redesigned more than 90 titles. They have included new launches, taking broadsheets to the Berliner and tabloid formats, turning dailies to weeklies and even providing live camera-ready publications for customers. Demand for design work has risen this year - possibly because publishers know that if they continue to offer readers more of the same, then their sales performance will also be more of the same. So with that in mind we have put together a PDF brochure  showing some of our work and drawn up some different approaches to a redesign. If you would like to see what we can do for you or receive the PDF take a look here.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Catching up with cartoonist Cluff, a rare talent

I have finally caught up with one of my Christmas presents, Private Eye: A Cartoon History. It is a must-read book with real laugh-out-loud moments. There are almost 300 pages crammed with the works of the Eye’s greatest cartoonists including Ken Pyne, Ed McLachlan, Bill Tidy, Willie Rushton, Michael Heath, Tony Husband and, of course, the book’s editor Nick Newman. I was particularly pleased, though, to see the contributions from the excellent Cluff.  
In 1990, when I was at The Northern Echo, a mild-mannered council officer called John Longstaff came into the office to ask if the paper was interested in running a daily pocket cartoon. 

Cluff: John Longstaff
We gave him a go - and were blown away. Every night he would send over two or three cartoons, usually by fax. They were topical, waspish (occasionally too brutal for our sensitive readers) and always brilliant. John had that sideways look at life that separates the great cartoonists from the rest of us. He quickly became a daily feature on Page 1 and he has been in the paper each day ever since. Cluff, who took his name from a 60s' television series called Sergeant Cluff which starred Leslie Sands as Yorkshire Dales policeman, has his own section in the Eye book and there are 19 of his cartoons scattered around the pages. Here are a couple:

Reading the book prompted me to get in touch and discover, among other things, that John is an artist far beyond his cartoons. You can catch up with some of his other work here

This one in particular caught my eye - not least because the Britannia was the Echo journalists' pub back in the 80s. It was a joy to catch up with the man and his work. He also told me he is holding an exhibition in Darlington’s Crown Street Gallery in September. I might have to contrive to be up there. 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Journalists - what makes us special

My mad February schedule meant that I missed the Thanksgiving Service at St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Journalists' Charity. Those who were there, though, have never stopped telling me what I missed and what an inspirational morning it was. So this week, I finally caught up with the readings that were delivered on the day. If you are a journalist, and even if you aren’t, you should read them all. It is stirring stuff. 

Alex Crawford give her address at the service. Paul Cutcliffe

The address was given by Sky’s Alex Crawford who nicely summed up the essence of a journalist:
"We journalists are all different, a very different community of individuals, with different DNA to much of humankind. We’re designed to challenge, to push, to dig, to question, to irritate, to run TOWARDS danger and confrontation rather than away from it – and, when we’re not tearing each other apart limb from limb, we do have fun together."
I would encourage you, particularly if you're a young journalist starting out, to read her full address here.

Daily Mail editor-in-chief Paul Dacre gave a reading from Vincent Mulchrone’s What makes us special.
"If, in the panic, you can find the words to convey the blood and sweat of the revolt in Oojiboo, and (which is frequently more difficult) get them back to a sub-editor worried about his train home, then you are a reporter, and the happiest animal on earth."  
It is in this piece that Mulchrone was the first to recognise that: "The news story must be the only human activity which demands that the orgasm comes at the beginning.” 

Trinity Mirror chief executive Simon Fox read from Keith Waterhouse’s Streets Ahead memoir on joining Fleet Street for the first time.
… the smell of printers’ ink and metal was at this hour as stale on the air as last night’s beer, there was nevertheless a stirring, a frisson, the first buzz of that excitement that always mounted throughout the day until it came to a climax with a fleet of predominately yellow vans pulling out of Shoe Lane and Bouverie Street and Carmelite Street and Tudor Street and Fetter Lane and heading like a wagon train for the mainline stations.

The editor of The Sun, David Dinsmore, read the Greatest Company in the World by the late Mirror columnist Cassandra.
"You can get used to the noise but I’ve never got used to the people. The lovely nuts. The gorgeous crackpots. And all those wonderful, generous, self-derisive folk who spend their lives making dirty great black marks on miles and miles of white paper. Newspaper people are the greatest company in the world."

Telegraph Media Group chief executive, Murdoch MacLennan, read 70 years as a journalist by W.F. Deedes, in which he recalls his first day at the Morning Post.
“Go and watch the crowds in Downing Street,” they told me. “Don’t write anything, old boy, just useful experience.” So it was. I had never reported anything in my life. Why was I there? The Morning Post, feeling its age, had decided to recruit a few young reporters. I was among them."

The actor Simon Callow also read a speech by Charles Dickens, proposing a toast to the Newspaper Press Fund, the forerunner of the Journalists' Charity, back in 1865.

It is clear that I should have made time to attend. But reading the extracts has been the next best thing. I recommend you do the same - and remind yourselves why you do what you do. 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Front Page of the Year: A tough call

Only three weeks to go to the Press Awards ... a guaranteed great night out. One of my favourite awards has always been Front Page of the Year. That's not just because it is easier to judge than the written categories, but because it is such a critical and creative part of what newspapers do. Persuading people to pick up a newspaper by using a mix of words, images, type and colour on a piece of paper is a great art. It needs design, journalism and marketing skills. Having the best front page on the news-stands is what it's all about. The shortlisted six in this year's awards are all top notch - and are all radically different. The only slight surprise is that the deaths of Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher didn't make the last six. There is a good mix though. Two qualities, two middle-market, two red-tops, two Sundays, four dailies - and six cracking stories. The judges clearly had an almost impossible task to choose just one. Which would you go for?
NB: I wasn't a judge in this category and have no idea who has won.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Final Newsquiz: Ollie wins the Champagne

The trainees outside the Manor at Howden. From left: Alex Finnis, Jack Crone, Tom Burrows, Jennny Awford, Kieran Gill, Charlie Scott, Ollie Gillman, Olly Todd, Jen Smith, Melanie Sisson, Chris Waugh, Khaleda Rahman and Aby Dunsby 

The Daily Mail trainees have now completed their training and are heading off to their regional newspaper placements. This week they had three days in Howden with me and a visit on Tuesday by Andy Gregory, deputy editor of Mail Plus. At the end of the week they had a fascinating two days in the Mail offices in Kensington. On Thursday there were sessions with the legal team Lindsay Warwick, Hilary Kingsley (the former Mirror columnist now turned lawyer) and Tim Ross. Chief reporter David Williams and senior reporter Christian Gysin told them inspirational stories and former trainees Kieran Corcoran, Lizzie Edmonds and Adam Shergold gave them a heads-up on what the next year will bring. Night editor Elizabeth Hammond finished off the day with a real insight into life on MailOnline. Yesterday there were high-grade sessions with publisher Martin Clarke, assistant editor Hugh Dougherty, deputy news-editor Mariana Partasides, reporter Harriet Arkell and a practical briefing by editorial manager Lucy Jones

Ollie celebrates winning the quiz ... and the Champagne 
We finished as always with the news quiz. This week’s top scorers were Jenny Awford and Tom Burrows with 15 points each. Well done to both. The big prize, a bottle of Champagne, went to Ollie Gillman for being the top scorer over the four weeks with 62.5 points, overtaking his closest rival Chris Waugh at the final hurdle. Well done to both. Good luck to the trainees on the next stage of their training. Stay enthusiastic, committed, accurate and, of course, charming …
Here’s the final quiz for you to test your current affairs knowledge. There are 20 questions, with five bonuses so a possible 25 points. Jenny and Tom’s 15 to beat.

An Oscars-style selfie: See question 5      
1. How much will it cost to send a first class letter when prices go up at the end of this month?
2. A Paddy Power advert was withdrawn after it became the most complained about advert of all time. What was it offering?
3. David Beckham’s aftershave, Intense Instinct, has been the top selling male celebrity fragrance since 2006 … but which celeb's fragrance has now knocked him off the top spot? 
4. The director general of the BBC has announced plans to take BBC Three to online only, who is he?
Bonuspresenter Mark Lawson is leaving Radio Four. Which programme did he host?
5. Cate Blanchett won best actress in a leading role at the Oscars. For which film?
Bonus, Ellen DeGeneres orchestrated the selfie that was the talk of the Oscars, but who took the picture?
6. England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland all played friendly internationals on Wednesday - and only one of them lost. Which one?
Bonus, England have recruited Steve Peters to their World Cup squad in Brazil. What will his role be?
7. Why was 13-year-old Jamie Edwards in the headlines?
8. The Ukranian flag was briefly replaced by the Russian flag over the Donetsk regional headquarters this week. What two colours are on the Ukranian flag?
Bonus, which prominent American figure compared Vladmir Putin’s actions in Ukraine to those of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s?
9. Who did MP Robert Halfon say were ‘akin to Nazis’?
10. Whose wife has deleted her Twitter account after her family received online abuse from sci-fi fans? 
11. Why did judge Thokozile Masipa not address the jury in the Oscar Pistorious trial?
12. Which newspaper ran a correction to a story published in 1853?
13. Name two of the three finalists in the last ever Dancing on Ice (half point for one correct name).
14. Unknown singer songwriter Mollie Smitten-Downes will represent the UK in this year’s Eurovision song contest. What is the name of the song she will sing? 
15. According to research, British women spend 339 minutes a day on leisure - the second most of any Western country. But in which European country do the women relax the most?
16. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said he did not have the power to bring back what ‘fundamental right’?
17. Rebekah Brooks denied in court that she was like which Dickensian character?
18. The owner of which British football club has been jailed for six years for money laundering.
19. The Metropolitan Police’s undercover unit SDS has come under fire over allegations that it routinely lied to the courts. What does SDS stand for?
Bonus, the review of the SDS by Mark Ellison, QC, may now be referred to the Attorney General. Who is the Attorney General? 
20. What did Maj General James Cowan, who has led British forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, ban from the officers' mess? 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Type is my life: Fonts legend Mike Parker dies

Mike Parker, the man who gave the world Helvetica, died on Sunday. He was 84. He was also responsible for around 1,000 other fonts. He also featured in the movie Helvetica which, if you haven't seen it already, is a must-watch. Parker's amazing typographical journey started with the Mergenthaler Linotype Company in 1959 and ended with the Font Bureau. There are many tributes to him around this week including this one on Time's website and this fascinating interview, which opens with 'My name is Mike Parker and type is my life'. Please watch it. 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

The old subs room: Pipes, spikes and cardigans

My old colleague, Ted Young, posted this picture of The (Manchester) Guardian subs room from the 1950s on Twitter yesterday. It shows his late father, Eric, top left with the chief sub (Katz?) looking over his shoulder. I joined my first daily subs room in the 1970s and it didn't really look much different from that. As Ted, now digital editor of the New York Daily News, says: "I love the pipes, pots of glue, spikes, different colour paper for foreign wires and, of course, cardigans." It's all a far cry from what remains of the subs rooms of today of course. If anyone has any other old newsroom pictures, please share them. 
Footnote: If newsroom nostalgia is your thing, take a look at this ... modern journalism students having a crack at producing a paper without technology.

Which would you prefer - a fine or a butt probe?

There is much speculation as to what punishment Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew will receive from the FA for his head-butting shenanigans at the weekend. There is a precedent though. Kidderminster manager Mark Yates nutted Exeter City player Lee Elam in 2007 and received a £350 fine and a four-match ban. Pardew has already been fined £100,000 by Newcastle. So the punishment already seems out of kilter. Mind you, according to the Express & Echo headline from 2007, Yates also had to face a butt probe. Looks like  Pardew got off lightly.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

No butts ... back pages giving me a headache

I'm afraid there is only one story dominating the back pages tomorrow. Newcastle win away 4-1, the first time in six years that they have scored four away goals in the Premier League, and it barely warrants a mention. As a Newcastle supporter for more than 50 years I am no longer shocked by anything the club does. But at least it gave the headline writers some fun. I have to say the Express's 'No butts: Pards must leave' is the pick of the bunch. I quite like 'Pard nut' too. Tonight the club issued a statement that said Pardew would be fined £100,000 and it was drawing a line under the matter. It was a bit of a fuss about nothing really, handbags in the heat of the moment. That said, as someone who ran a kids' football club for 18 years, I despair at a 52-year-old manager behaving like a petulant schoolboy. Anyway, there wasn't much to laugh at in all of this ... except maybe Jeff Stelling's reaction on Gillette Soccer Saturday. Watch it here


This week's news quiz: Ollie's 19 to beat

The Daily Mail trainees have just finished their third week at PA's training centre in Howden. They spent time with the managing director of PA Images, Martin Stephens, trainer Mike Watson, media law specialist David Banks and the Mail Plus trainees had InDesign and Photoshop training with Mike Brough. Some also submitted stories for Mail Online and Khaleda Rahman gained a byline for a story she picked up about Legoland cancelling a Muslim party after threats. You can read it here. As usual we finished with the news quiz. Well done to Ollie Gillman who scored a very high 19, narrowly beating Khaleda and Jack Crone on 18. There are a possible 24 points. See if you can do any better.

Nicolas Anelka: See question 10.

1. Police issued footage of the moment Andrew Young was killed by a single punch in a row over cycling on the pavement. In which town did this take place?
2. What was the name of the Irishman, accused of the Hyde Park bombings, whose case collapsed because of a deal during the Northern Ireland agreement?
First bonus, what year were the Hyde Park bombings? 
Second bonus, who is Northern Ireland’s First Minister, who threatened to resign over the IRA amnesty letters?
3. Rebecca Ferguson fainted while appearing live on which television programme? 
4. One Direction member Louis Tomlinson turned out for which football team?
5. Who publicly used the cliches ‘not a piece of cake,’ ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’ and ‘caught between the devil and the deep blue sea’ this week?
6. Which financial company has threatened to quit Scotland if it becomes independent?
7. What has the Law Commission recommended should become legally binding in court?
8. Patricia Hewitt said the National Council for Civil Liberties was ‘naive and wrong’  over its links with PIE. What was the last cabinet position she held?
Bonus, what is the name of the police operation now investigating PIE?
9. CNN have cancelled a show hosted by an ex-Daily Mirror editor. Name the show.
10. West Bromich Albion footballer Nicolas Anelka has received a five-game ban for using what type of gesture?
11. Why was Francesco Schettino in the headlines?
12. Where was former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg arrested this week?
13. What was the name of the tax-avoidance scheme that former BBC Radio 1 DJ Chris Moyes allegedly used to avoid up to £1m in tax?
14. Former Australian cricketer Shane Warne is said to have had a tryst with a bra tycoon. Name her. 
15. What are Simon Cowell's Yorkshire terrier pups called? (half point for each).
16. JBS Family Butchers' window display has made the headlines. In which town is it? 
17. Gavin Grant stepped down as chief executive of which organisation?
18. Why have detectives investigating Oscar Pistorius flown to America?
Bonus, the trial of Pistorius begins next week. In which city will it be held?
19. America’s vice president telephoned the Ukraine’s new prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to say the US welcomed the formation of his government. Who is America’s vice president?
20. Who claimed to have turned down a £1m 'indecent proposal' from an Arab prince?

 Answers here.