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Sunday, 16 February 2014

Snowboarding Jenny struggles to hold her own against Kate up front ...and Man Utd on the back

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GB's first snow medallist, Jenny Jones. Photograph: Daily Telegraph

Editing is all about making decisions. Sometimes the choices are tough.

Do we go with a new picture of a pretty blonde few have heard of, but who has done something no Briton has done before?

Or should we use a photograph of the pretty brunette we've seen tens of thousands of times, and doing something most mothers do every day? A photograph, what's more, that has already been seen in every supermarket and newsagent on the cover of Hello! magazine.

It was a close call but n the end, the brunette edged it. The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George in St Lucia was the front-page choice for five papers last Monday. 

 Four went for the snowboarding bronze medallist Jenny Jones. 

The royal mum and baby were the winning choice
 for most papers, even though the picture
had been on supermarket shelves for a week

Jones not only failed to secure a front-page slot in the Mail, she didn't get onto the back either. In common with almost every other paper, the Mail splashed its sports section on Manchester United's draw with Fulham. 

The exception was the Telegraph, which led its general sports supplement with the Games and restricted Moyes' misery to the Total Football section. The Telegraph is far from alone in having a supplement  devoted entirely to football, but it is the only paper to exercise this sort of restraint. 

The default setting for everyone else is to have football on the first few pages working in from the back of the main paper as well.

BBC2 achieved an audience of up to 3m for Jenny Jones's snowboarding event in Sochi, and its Winter Olympics coverage had a bigger share of the all-day audience than ITV on both Saturday and Sunday. So people are interested.  This is just the sort of achievement that inspires youngsters to take up a new sport they may never have thought of.

Yet only the Guardian used an Olympic picture on the back - every other sports section restricted Jones to a puff to the coverage inside.

It's not only snowboarding that suffers. Even in the miserable rain and wind, millions of people will have been out walking, running, jumping, climbing, swimming, pogo-jumping this weekend. Yet minority sports don't get a look in.

The mainstream sports don't do much better. Last weekend saw the start of the Six Nations rugby, the British indoor athletics championship and the ECB explaining why it has given Kevin Pietersen the boot. All of these, and horse racing, found homes however bijou - everywhere. But what about tennis, badminton, hockey, golf, cycling, boxing, rallying, equestrianism? 

Almost all consigned to the 5pt results page. Is this right?

Fulham's Darren Bent celebrates after the 94th minute equaliser
against Manchester United last weekend

Several years ago, Gameoldgirl had a bit of a run-in with the Times sports department when a strong cricket story broke late on a Sunday evening. Were we interested in taking it up front? 

Not the whole story, but we'd certainly like a write-off to cross-ref to the sport splash.

'Oh we won't be splashing on it.'

'Because we always splash on football.'
'But you've got 24 pages of The Game for football.'
'Yes, but we have to splash on the football.'
'Well, couldn't you split the page and do the picture on the footie and a text splash on cricket?'
'No. That's not the style. We give the whole page to football. But if you want to change the way we do things...'"

Gameoldgirl retreats in surrender.

When the sportsman had disappeared back to his office, a former sports executive who now holds a senior position in news, leant across the desk and said: 'He's right, you know. We have to splash on the football whatever happens. ..And I much prefer cricket.'

Another standing rule for a Sunday at the Times was that the front page puff had to be devoted to The Game and that it was not to be diluted with pointers to any other element of the paper. 

Nor was it unusual for the main front-page picture to be football-related. 

This approach was not born from the whim of a particular editor - it was embraced by successive editors, deputies, night editors and sports executives not only at the Times, but at many other papers.

Every stop is pulled out to ensure that every evening result is in the next day's first edition - and if a European game goes to extra time and penalties, a paper can be up to two hours late on the presses and they still won't start without the final score. If the front page is offstone ten minutes late on any other night, there's hell to pay.

The rigid philosophy has been tempered over the years, but football continues to dominate every section that claims to write about 'sport'.

Of course football is big business, very big business. It's also soap opera, the main topic of conversation in the pub, at dinner parties -  at any social event, in fact, where strangers seek common ground to make small talk or where friends and neighbours dramatise their rivalries. No one is doubting the very great interest in the game.

Football coverage is such an essential selling point for newspapers that many of them have 16, 20 and 24-page supplements. So essential that Monday papers routinely devote more column inches to that one sport than to the entire home, foreign and business sections put together.

So why do those must-read, must-puff  football sections never have any advertisements in them? 

SubScribe doesn't have the answer, but we thought it would be interesting to do an audit of one day's sports coverage across the national papers to see how the valuable space is shared out.

Match of the Day routinely attracts around 4m viewers. Radio5Live and its Sports Extra sister also have a growing audience - reaching more than 6.5m a week, according to  quarterly ratings released last week. 

There will therefore have been few sports fans who woke  on Monday unaware of the tensions and last-minute dramas at Old Trafford. 

Of course this was the main football story of the day. Of course Moyes is under the microscope. The question here is whether sport in general is suffering from this level of coverage - and whether it bears any responsibility for the ludicrous turnover of football managers this season.

We hear endlessly about the need for the nation to get fit. Yet our sports pages cater almost entirely for the armchair pundits who wear tracksuits for no reason other than to hide the blubber and catch the dribbled pizza. 

That is why SubScribe thinks the balance needs to be shifted.

Here is the evidence from last weekend: 

Monday's sports coverage in numbers

Sun back page 10-402-1
The Sun
Main book 11 of 60 pages
Back page

Splash Man U 
Picture Rooney 
Puffs 1 x Olympics
2 x football

Inside pages
4 x football, 2 x Olympics, 

2 x racing, 1 x rugby, 
1 x Pietersen
Goals supplement 28 pages
Supplement advertising
2 20x3s, baseline strips on several pages, all for Wickes

Total football space 
33 of 88 pages (37%)

Independent back page 10-02-14
Main book
16 of 56 pages
Back page
Splash  Cricket
Picture Bent (v Man U)
1 x Olympics
1 x football

1 x athletics

Inside pages
5 x football, 4 x rugby, 

2 x Olympics, 1 x athletics,
1 x Pietersen, 1 x opinion, 

1 x results
Advertising None

Total football space
5.5 of 56 pages (10%)

Guardian sports cover 10-02-14
Main book
0 of 34 pages
14 pages
Picture Olympics
Splash Man U
s/c on Pietersen

6 x football, 2 x rugby
2 x racing

2 x Olympics, 
with cycling and athletics
at the edges
1 x opinion
Advertising 4 house ads

Total football space
6.5 of 44 pages (15%)

Telegraph sports front 10-02-14
Main book 0 of 30 pages
Sport supplement 16 pages
Cover Olympics
Puffs 1 x rugby, 1 x Pietersen
Inside pages
6 x rugby, 1 x opinion

4 x Olympics, with golf at edge
2 x racing, 1 x cricket
1 x athletics/equestrianism
Total Football supplement 

22 pages
Sport advertising 

1 10x7, 4 house ads
Football advertising 
1 page
Total football space
22 of 68 pages (32%)

Daily Star back page 10-02-14
Daily Star
Main book 11 of 52 pages
Back page
Splash Man U
Picture Rooney
Puffs 1 x football
1 x Olympics
Inside pages
4 x football, 4 x racing, 
spread on Olympics and Pietersen with bit of rugby, golf and athletics
Seriously Football pull-out

20 pages
Supplement advertising "in association with Wickes" 
1 x full page, 1 x half page,

1 20x3, 1 25x3, front page 10x5 
Total football space
25 of 72 pages (35%)

Mirror back page 10-02-14
Main book 
11 of 52 pages
Back page 
Splash Man U
Picture Moyes
s/c football

Puffs football

4 x football 2 x rugby, 2 x racing, 1 x Olympics, 1 x Pietersen
Mirror Football
supplement 20 pages
Advertising "In association with Vauxhall" straplines,
baseline strips, 2 x half-page, all Vauxhall

Total football space
25 of 72 pages (35%)

Express back page 10-02-14
Main book 12 of 64 pages
Back page 
Splash Man U
Pictures: Bent, Moyes
Write-offs Olympics, Pietersen, rugby
Inside pages
6 x football, 2 x rugby
2 x Olympics, with Pietersen, athletics and boxing at edge
1 x racing
Advertising 10x5 Sky,
25x3 Wickes, 15x2 betting, 
3 house ads
Total football space
7 of 64 pages (11%)

Times back page 10-02-14
The Times
Main book 12 of 64 pages
Back page
Splash Man U
Picture Man U
Puffs 1 x Olympics, 1 x rugby
Inside pages
4 x Olympics,racing 4 x rugby,
1 x cricket, 1 x racing, 1 x opinion
The Game supplement 20 pages
Game advertising Sky Sports baseline strips, 3 house ads
Total football space
21 of 84 pages (25%)

Daily Mail back page 10-02-14
Daily Mail
Main book 16 of 72 pages
Back page 
Splash Man U
Picture Rooney
s/c story Pietersen
Puff rugby
7 x football, 3 x rugby, 2 x opinion
2 x Olympics, with Pietersen and Football Extra, 1 x racing
Advertising Wickes 25x3, 
Sky Sports 10x5, 
Lloyds Pharmacy 15x2,
1 house ad
Total football space
8 of 72 pages (11%)

i back page 10-02-14
Main book 10 of 56 pages
'Back page'
Picture Bent (v Man U)
Splash Sport Matrix roundup
Inside pages 3 x football, 2 x Olympics, 
1.5 x rugby, with golf and tennis, 1 x Pietersen, 0.5 racing, 1 athletics + results roundup
Advertising 4 house ads
Total football space
3.5 of 56 pages (6%)

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Monday, 3 February 2014

Forget Gove, floods and benefits, give us Philip Seymour Hoffman

Like most bosses, newspaper editors enjoy perks that are not available to their staff. One of these is the right to Sundays off.

Funnily enough, this tends not to cause resentment because it affords people lower down the pecking order - including those who have little to do with the news operation in their 'day job' - to play with the train set.

Monday newspapers therefore often have a different tone from the rest of the week. Much of the content will have been planned ahead, there will be new series or campaigns and there will be follow-ups from the weekend papers and current affairs programmes. Andrew Marr has a big part to play here. It doesn't leave much room for a Sunday editor to make his or her mark. They will be judged on headline, presentation and, most of all, how they react to that rare thing - a breaking story.

We can see all this at play today. Michael Gove has been everywhere over the weekend, so the row over Sally Morgan's dismissal was the easy splash option. Only the Guardian took that route, however. The Independent also went with Gove, but focused on cost cutting that has apparently left sixth form colleges unable to afford to run maths A level courses. (Really? I don't dispute that they may be short of cash, but there must be something less important that they could drop?)

The Mirror and the i have unearthed prison 'scandals' from Freedom of Information requests and statistical analysis.

The i is concerned about dangerous sex offenders who are being released without having had any treatment to curb their behaviour.

 Economies mean that places on treatment programmes are becoming more scarce - 54 at Maidstone, where there are 500 sex offenders - and that the waiting list is so long that many prisoners are reaching the end of their sentences before they reach the top of the queue.

How shocking is this? Clearly it's not a good thing, but is it putting the public at serious risk?

Prison governors think it is, according to the writer Emily Dugan:

Prisons across England and Wales are routinely releasing dangerous sex offenders without putting them through treatment programmes because budget cuts have left places critically scarce.The situation is so serious that prison governors say it could create more victims, as sexual predators are sent into the community before their behaviour is addressed.

But there is nothing to back up the key assertions in either paragraph - that dangerous offenders are routinely released without treatment or that prison governors are worried about there being more victims.

No governor is quoted in the story; the line about creating more victims comes from an official of a charity that works to prevent child abuse.

Nor do the inspection reports or the December National Audit Office report on which the story is based make any mention of dangerous prisoners. Indeed, the Prison Service says that medium and high-risk prisoners have priority for training programmes.

Dugan has done well in digging around to get her story - but it has been over-egged to the extent that its value is diminished.

The Mirror is concerned about prisoners being paid child and housing benefits, sick pay and even job seekers' allowance while they have been locked away from society. This 'blundering at Iain Duncan Smith's Department for Work and Pensions'  led to £41m being paid out in error over six years, of which only £19.7m has been recovered.

The Labour MP Grahame Morris and the TaxPayers' Alliance are obligingly outraged, with Morris suggesting that the money could have been used to recruit 2,500 more nurses.

Once again, congratulations to Mirror chief reporter Andy Lines for unearthing the story. But not for balance.

IDS has made some crass mistakes and is an easy target. And it is accurate to say that the errors were perpetrated by officials at the department he now heads.

But the payments Lines is writing about were made between 2007 and 2012. According to the figures, £25.2m was paid between 2007 and 2010 - when Labour's James Purnell and Yvette Cooper were in charge - and £16m has been paid since IDS took over. The Mirror does not mention the Labour ministers, nor does it give credit to whoever was responsible for recovering the £19.7m.

It does, however, say that payments last year were £2m, which suggests the problem is being addressed, and that some prisoners are entitled to housing and child benefit.

This Government is getting enough wrong for it to be spared the blame for other people's errors.

Surprisingly, the true blue Mail is also being a little unfair with its splash today on how food giants 'woo' ministers.

 The crux of this story is that health lobbyists can't get through the door to discuss the 'obesity epidemic', whereas the likes of McDonalds, Tesco, Nando's and Pepsi can waltz in whenever they want to.

The paper says that details of the number of meetings held with such companies and the Food and Drink Federation lobby group has led health experts to complain that the Government is keener on listening to the food industry than those with the nation's health at heart.

Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum says 'the industry has a charmed route to the corridors of power that is denied to everyone else.'

The Government has rejected calls for laws to restrict sugar content in food or taxes on fizzy drinks, and the Mail points out that the World Health Organisation has today highlighted the correlation between countries with few regulations on food and high consumption of fast foods.

Fair enough.

The new lobby group Action on Sugar has its first meeting with Jeremy Hunt tonight, but its chairman Graham MacGregor  isn't optimistic of a breakthrough.

"We rarely get access to ministers - they don't want to see us. My impression is that if the food industry want to see them, they get in. The food industry is riding all over us. It's a scandal."

Setting aside the thought that such a comment is unlikely to endear Professor MacGregor to someone he hopes to win over, let's consider this question of the food companies' access.

Early in the story, the Mail writes that Mars, Tesco et al have been 'invited' to see ministers. The federation has seen ministers 16 times and had 99 meetings with officials since 2010, it says. On page 6, a factbox details 14 meetings. Asda features twice, but the other companies listed have just one bite each.

 Action on Sugar was founded last month. It is meeting not a junior minister but the Secretary of State today. That seems like pretty swift access.

Now here's a thought. Could it possibly be that health ministers are opening their doors to food manufacturers and their representatives not to have their ears bent, but to try to persuade them to do something about the sugar, salt and saturates in their products?

Oh yes, that is exactly what the Government has told the Mail.

"We are not giving business, big or small, power over public health policy, but food companies have a big part to play in helping people to lead a healthier life." 

Well, yes, they would say that, wouldn't they?

So perhaps we should take the comment with a pinch of the forbidden white stuff. But what troubles me is that there is not a shred of evidence anywhere in the story to back up the line that the food lobby is pressing its special interests - and that should be easy enough to obtain, because it almost certainly is - or even that it requested any of those meetings.

Elsewhere, the floods still preoccupy the minds of news and picture editors.

The Telegraph creates its splash (sorry) from an oped piece by Chris Smith about difficult choices on which areas should be protected from the water and there is some cute picture cropping to merge photographs of town and country to create a bold and coherent head-picture-story package.


A news story broke yesterday afternoon; one that was of greater interest to more people than anything about the Davis Cup, romcoms or HS2.

Yet the Telegraph had no space on its front for a single word about the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Perhaps the news came too late?

No. The actor made a perfunctory page 5 lead with a run-of-the-mill picture sitting awkwardly over a dominant 25x4 ad.

So in the Telegraph's eyes, he was also less important/interesting than a photograph of an orchestra of Stradivari instruments or the risk to British pageantry of cuts to the armed forces that appeared on page 3.

This was a big fail.

The Guardian had three cutouts of him over the masthead pointing to its coverage on the 10-11 spread, where the advert again managed to murder the editorial.

Newspapers are desperate for money and have to bow to increasingly outrageous demands of advertisers (both Times and Telegraph sold their sport supplement covers to Peugeot on Saturday), but these Halifax monstrosities really should be outlawed.

The Guardian's front-page picture of surfers on the Severn was terrific and the paper did justice to Hoffman in the puff. But how much water do we need to see (the Sun's premium-line story excepted)? After the rainiest January in history, we're quite used to it now. 

So hurrah for the Independent's Sunday editor for being the only one to realise what readers would want to see this morning. What a shame there are only 43,000 of them.

The SubScribe website is progressing slowly and should be up and running before too long. A few pages are now available for a sneak preview, including this post in its new format. Please do take a look here... 

Friday, 31 January 2014

Murder, missing, mutilated. Yes, women are in trouble - because they're 'getting ahead'

There's a distinctly feminine feel about the fronts today with the verdict in the Meredith Kercher murder retrial, more activity in the McCann investigation and the growing gender gap at university. 

It's instructive to compare the splashes in the old-school Telegraph and the down-with-the-kids i. The former sees it as 'boys' being left behind; the latter as 'women' racing ahead. Boys? Generally people don't go to university until they are 18 - adults. In fact nobody's ahead or behind. It's about the number of applications, not achievement.

The most important story of the day comes from The Times with the Chief Inspector of Constabulary taking police forces to task for failing to tackle honour killings, female genital mutilation and domestic violence. 

To read the full review, please click here and pay a visit to the nascent SubScribe website.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Is it true? Is it new? Does it matter? Do we care?

Today's mishmash has inspired the SubScribe four-point readworthiness test for our printed friends. 

Saturday papers are tricky. Friday tends to be a slow news day as Westminster evacuates to leave a vast empty shelf in the news supermarket.  So, like the Sundays, special projects have to be commissioned. But, unlike the Sundays, daily reporters tend not have the luxury of a whole week to work on their stories. Fridays can therefore be fraught and the next day's offerings variable, to say the least.

Only two papers splash on a story that had to be used today or spiked  - the Daily Star and the Independent.   The Telegraph uses the staple of creating a news story from an interview, while the Guardian and Times engage in a little number crunching that could be done at almost any time. The Mirror joins the police on a raid in Suffolk, but there have been and will be others.

The i's follow-up to David Cameron's 'everyone's better off' claim and the Mail's story about disciplining teachers were born out of developments yesterday, but both could easily have been used inside if a real splash had appeared.

And so to the test:
The Guardian has gone to the Prevasi Nepali Co-ordination Committee for an update on how many have died working on the infrastructure for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

The figures are shocking: 185 Nepalese victims of accidents and heart attacks in 2013 and at least 382 in the past two years. We have no idea how many others from India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and elsewhere have died. 
Since the PNCC dossier provides the only statistics available, it is impossible to assess accurately the full scale of the scandal.   But we can hazard a guess: Nepalis account for around 350,000 of the two million migrant workers in Qatar. 

FIFA has been put under pressure to act and has promised to confront the issue, but there is little sign of that yet. The Qatari Government has commissioned the law firm DLA Piper to investigate and promised to take the findings seriously when it reports soon.  The state has promised that the tournament will not be built 'on the blood of innocents'. 
The foundations already have been.

Is it true?  Yes

Is it new?  Yes, in that it's the first time anyone has asked. 
Does it matter?  Yes. 
Do we care?  Not enough.

The Telegraph has interviewed the head of the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence, which sanctions drugs and treatments for use on the NHS. Professor David Haslam tells the paper that patients should research their conditions and hassle their doctors to give them the right drugs. Seems odd advice, given the number of stories criticising GPs for handing out pills like sweeties and the general antipathy of doctors to patients who self-diagnose. 

It's one thing to be reasonably informed and to have a discussion; it's quite another to start pestering for something that might not be appropriate. The story is timely, though, coming after reports this week that many cancer and MND sufferers are not getting life-extending drugs to which they are entitled, and that doctors are routinely failing to treat elderly cancer patients properly.

Is it true?  Yes. 

Is it new?  Yes. 
Does it matter?  Yes. 
Do we care?  Yes.

At first glance the Independent's splash should be everyone's lead. An elderly British man who is mentally ill is sentenced to death for blasphemy in a foreign country. 

Muhammad Asghar, who comes from Edinburgh, was convicted and sentenced in Pakistan on Thursday. His crime was to compare himself to a prophet in a letter that was never posted. The document, described by the defence as the private ramblings of a madman, had been taken to the authorities by a disgruntled tenant.
The verdict was pronounced after the court refused to accept evidence of Mr Asghar's insanity. His lawyer had earlier been dismissed from the courtroom and replaced by a state defender.

Mr Asghar - whose age is given in various papers as everything from 68 to 72 - has been in prison since his arrest in 2010 and is unlikely to be executed because Pakistan has had a moratorium on the death penalty for the past five years. These may be the reasons that other papers made so little of the case - it could surely not be because his name is Muhammad?
It made a short page lead in the Telegraph and i, but only a small single, nib or even less everywhere else.

The fact remains that the sentence has been passed and the moratorium could be lifted at any time.
And we should be concerned that such a man is in jail at all. 

Is it true? Yes
Is it new?  Yes.
Does it matter?  Yes. 
Do we care?  We should.

The i has been looking into the figures used by Number 10 to claim that almost everyone's income has increased by more than the rate of inflation. Instinct tells us that couldn't be true and the i has confirmed that view by uncovering some interesting accounting.

Economists found that the claim was based on wages and income tax and did not take into account such elements as personal allowances, tax credits and child benefit.
Good work from Nigel Morris, deputy political editor of the Independent and the i (the story appears in both papers). The Mirror conducted a similar exercise to produce a good page lead.

Is it true? Yes
Is it new?  Yes. 
Does it matter?  Yes. 
Do we care?  Yes.

The Mirror splashes on internet sales of abortion pills made in India. The story is full of dire warnings about what might happen if a desperate teenager took these pills, especially in the wrong dose. There have been no such cases recorded, but there is no harm in sounding an alert. 

This was a story that could have been picked up by anyone with a bit of thought - we've all had email spam offering us Viagra and other drugs - so good on Ben Rossington and Martin Bagot for getting on the case. They have clearly been in contact with police forces around the country and built up the contacts that enabled them to witness a raid on a house in Suffolk yesterday. The report is a mite melodramatic, but generally sound.

Is it true?  Yes. 

Is it new?  Up to a point, Lord Copper. 
Does it matter?  Yes. 
Do we care?  Maybe.

The Daily Star is still concerned about the fate of TOWIE Sam in Celebrity Big Brother. Liz Jones, who was evicted from the house this week, told the paper yesterday that Sam had been ill. 

Today the paper says that she was rushed to hospital and that 'fears grow for seriously ill babe'. Not so ill that the Star allows her to keep her clothes on - the paper again carries two photographs of her in swimwear and a little inset of her looking unwell on set. 

The inside heading is 'New fear for 999 Sam'. But if you stick with the story to the end you discover that she was taken to hospital yesterday morning, was seen by a doctor and came out at lunchtime. By last night she was back in the house. Either somebody is being irresponsible in returning this woman to that environment or perhaps she simply has a nasty virus. Let's hope it's the latter.

Is it true?  Half of it is. 

Is it new?  Yes. 
Does it matter?  No. 
Do we care?  No.

Sean O'Neill at the Times has also been number crunching. He finds that 16 people have been stopped on their way to or from Syria in the past three weeks because they were suspected of being involved in the fighting or terrorist activity. That compares with 24 in the whole of last year. 

It's certainly a startling increase, but does it mean that there is a soaring terror fear as the headline suggests (can a fear soar?)Or is Theresa May being more assiduous? 
Security authorities are apparently worried that young people are being radicalised in Syria and trained to carry out attacks in Britain. 
The prisoners' rights group CAGE takes a different view. Its research director Asim Qureshi says: 
'The recent spate of arrests seems misplaced and disproportional. It rests on the erroneous assumption that travelling to Syria transforms one into an enemy of Britain. If opposing the Assad regime is a central part of current foreign policy, why would pursuing that policy be an arrestable offence.'

Is it true?  Yes. 

Is it new?  Yes. 
Does it matter?  Yes.
Do we care?  Not really.

The Express gives its front page to a weather forecast and a Kylie Minogue story that everyone else had yesterday. Need we say more?

Is it true?  Who knows?

Is it new?  Not really. 
Does it matter?  Well we can't do anything about it. 
Do we care?  Yes, if we're planning to go out or do some gardening.

The thought of children being taught by potheads or petty thieves may shock parents, so thanks to the Mail for warning us that convicted teachers could be allowed to stay in the classroom.

The thing is, though, that this has been the case for a while. 

The story is based on guidance from the Education Department's National College for Teaching and Leadership. The document, updated yesterday, spells out factors to be considered by a professional conduct panel when a teacher is referred for possible prohibition - which means a lifetime ban from the profession.
The revised guidelines include tighter rules on class A drugs and all sexual contact with students or pupils.

They also say that the panel should become involved in only the most serious cases and that it is unlikely that a teacher would be referred after a conviction or caution for shoplifting or possession of class B or C drugs for their own use.

This is what the Mail finds shocking.  But these provisions haven't changed.  There is no suggestion that teachers should get off scot-free if they smoke pot or take amphetamines; the DfE explains that to the Mail, saying its primary concern is the safety of children and that heads and local authorities have powers of suspension or dismissal.

The professional conduct panel is all about deciding whether people should be allowed to continue with what most see as a vocation. The Mail is being alarmist, reactionary and unthinking.
Do we really want to toss trained teachers out of work for life over offences generally regarded as misdemeanours?

Is it true?  Yes, within certain parameters. 

Is it new?  No. 
Does it matter?  Yes
Do we care?  Yes.

And so to the Sun and a splash that fails to tell us three of the six Ws, including the all-important 'who'. It obviously can't. So it teases us with the 'sports tycoon' and 'one of Britain's biggest pop stars'.

They apparently had a fling some time last year. We don't know how long it lasted before the tycoon's partner 'hit the roof' and then forgave him.

This is an 'exclusive'.

It is also a con. It tells the reader absolutely nothing and has the juvenile mentality of the kid who taunts friends 
in the playground shouting 'I know something you don't know'.

Was the paper injuncted? Was it scared that one of the Sundays was on the case? If not why publish? 
To stir up internet speculation?

If so, it failed in that as well.

A few sports forums put up some theories but almost all degenerated into arguments, abuse and general contempt for the paper - the word scum featured frequently. The threads are short as contributors quickly tired of the game.

Twitter was similarly uninterested.

Not a triumph then.

Is it true?  Who knows? 

Is it new?  Presumably.
Does it matter?  No. 
Do we care?  Clearly not.

Some thoughts on pictures. Today's were pretty uninspiring: a couple of silhouettes, a file shot of Cameron, a file shot of Nigella (for a story everyone covered yesterday), a file shot of Kylie, a file shot of Sam Faiers, a file shot of Rebekah and Charlie Brooks (at least from this week), a couple of tubs of pills.

There were only two live pictures in the whole bunch: Francois Hollande with the Pope and Grayson Perry flanked by two Beefeaters.

The notion of an (alleged) adulterer and a celibate discussing family life is intriguing and amusing. The Pope's headmasterly look at naughty boy Francois Hollande is caption competition gold. But a picture of two men of a certain age two columns apart is not going to set the news stands on fire.

Grayson Perry in his 'mother of the bride' hat was undoubtedly the picture of the day. There were several to choose from and they were all equally charming. But a transvestite? On the front page? Too scary for most. A pity.

Everyone used a picture somewhere, mostly with only a caption. But the Express ran a story as well. It was worth it, if only for this wonderful quote from the Palace: 

"His attire was entirely appropriate."

Finally, have you noticed that many of the women on our front pages are dressed in red? SubScribe is starting a count, with today's tally 3.

A mini review of the papers will be a feature of the new Sub-Scribe website, which should be alive and possibly kicking within the next couple of weeks. 
A few pages are available for a sneak preview, if you are interested, at