Friday, 1 January 2016
16 hurt in Dubai? Clear the front page
So here they are, the first front pages of the year.
Tried and tested seems to rule the day: Sydney fireworks from the Guardian, Alzheimer's cures from the Express, a lot of "babe" flesh from the Star and worries about our boozing habits from the Mail (which also gives us yesterday's Sun splash without so much as an updated headline),
The most interesting offering, however, comes from the Telegraph with a stunning picture of the Dubai hotel fire, coupled with the obvious headline also used by the i.
Hundreds of people were staying at the hotel, but only 16 were injured, so it's a great picture with a generally happy outcome. It certainly beats a petrol nozzle or fireworks pictures that could have come out of the archive.
What baffles me, however, even on a quiet news day, is the fact that the Telegraph has given its entire front page - apart from the puff - to this story of limited interest to most readers.
In 2015, the paper produced only seven front pages that were devoted to a single story: four related to the election and three to the attacks in Paris in January and November.
A further three carried one big story accompanied by nibs. Two of those were about the Paris terrorism and the third celebrated the Queen's record-breaking reign.
Of these ten single-subject fronts, five commanded the top of the page without a puff. The presence or otherwise of an ad may influence the decision about whether to retain the promotional guff, but the Telegraph is not afraid to drop it if it seems inappropriate. There was no puff on follow-up front pages after the two Paris attacks. It was also removed when RAF drone strikes killed British jihadis, for the Commons vote on bombing Syria, and the Germanwings plane crash.
Other big stories of the year - the whole refugee crisis, the floods, the identification of Mohamed Emwazi, the Tunisian beach massacre, the Nepal earthquake, and even the Telegraph's award-winning Malcolm Rifkind-Jack Straw sting - had to share their fronts with other elements. The Nepal quake didn't even make the splash; it was a puff above one of those "don't vote Labour" business letters.
Yet yesterday nothing happened of note to compete with, or even stand alongside, 16 hurt in an hotel thousands of miles away. Extraordinary.
That said, it's a bloody good looking page.