Eric Shackle puts the questions to Margaret Caldwell, 102, weekly columnist for the Desert Valley Times in Nevada.
So, Guardian’s Media Monkey reports a funny URL on an Express story entitled ‘Danger from just 7 cups of coffee a day’:
“(…) mention this after catching sight of the URL at the top of the story, which ends with the immortal phrase ‘utter-cock-as-usual'”
But – the plot thickens – actually it was the work of the Monkey’s colleague, as Monkey updates below the original post. Yes, Dr Ben Goldacre, Guardian columnist among other occupations, lays claim to the mischievous URL. He writes on the Bad Science blog:
“Heh, er, so obviously I’m delighted that my grown up humour slipped unnoticed into the Guardian’s Media Monkey today, but ‘Utter Cock As Usual‘ was not the web address of the Express’s recent story ‘Danger from just 7 cups of coffee a day‘.
“It’s just the web address I cheekily gave it on my blog post two weeks ago. I thought this was fairly well known, but for those who haven’t joined in the lolz, the websites of Express and the Telegraph, at least, let you substitute whatever text you want at the end of their web addresses.”
John Mair, television producer and associate senior lecturer in journalism at Coventry University, shares his thoughts on Charles Wheeler, the legendary BBC journalist who died in July 2008. A memorial service was held in London yesterday.
Yesterday the great and the good of British broadcasting and journalism gathered at Westminster Abbey to honour Sir Charles Wheeler ‘the reporters’ reporter’ who died, aged 85, last year.
Wheeler devoted 60 plus years to great journalism; we all have our personal and professional memories of him. Mine date back to 2004, when I was asked to produce the Media Society dinner at the Savoy Hotel to give him its award and honour him. How do you salute a God?
I’d grown up with his work from America and elsewhere, been a producer in the BBC where he was treated with huge respect, and seen and heard his work.
I can especially remember a ‘so-so’ story on Newsnight in the 1980s about cops beating up a black man in Notting Hill, which was everyday stuff then, unfortunately. It was transformed to a different plane by Wheeler reporting on it: all of a sudden it had ‘bottom’. Charles sprinkled journalistic experience and gold dust on all he touched. That ‘so-so’ became a significant story. Charles Wheeler was like that.
Back to the Savoy Dinner: Charles was modesty itself and happy to go along with whoever came along. Everybody but everybody I approached to speak readily agreed to do so: Helen Boaden, then controller of BBC Radio 4, said no problem; Steve Anderson, then controller for news and current affairs at ITV and a former Wheeler producer at Newsnight, was gagging to be on the cast list; so too the great Peter Taylor, who said he would be ‘honoured’ to be part of such an event. Charles and his work had that sort of influence with even the very best of our trade.
But the icing on the Savoy cake proved to be one Boris Johnson, then a barely known Tory MP, Spectator columnist and part-time clown. Boris is also Wheeler’s son-in-law, and his speech on the night was a tour de force. Scribbled on the back of a Savoy napkin, it had scores of hardened hacks in stitches.
Wheeler was much more measured and contrite when it was his turn: apologising to his many producers for giving them a hard time (the sign of a good reporter – one who in involved enough to get angry); radiating modesty and sheer professionalism at one and the same time. Charles Wheeler was like that – he cared about every single word and every single picture to the bitter end of the film that he was working on – and his life.
Never mind Westminster Abbey, Sir Charles Wheeler’s (Charlie Wheeler to all) work on tape and on screen is his epitaph. That will be with us all for a long, long time to come. Adieu ‘Reporters’ Reporter’. You probably have your notebook out, finding the great stories and telling them.
Shift to the left online and recent misleading reports on the site are causing a decline in Drudge’s influence, says columnist John Gapper.
“Mr Drudge has cried wolf so often in recent weeks that he can hardly claim credit when the wolf finally shows up.”
Today the editor of the Northern Echo, Peter Barron, again addresses the issue of his controversial columnist the Reverend Peter Mullen.
Today Barron writes:
“Should I go on employing someone as a columnist who had written such comments, albeit on a private blog which has nothing to do with The Northern Echo? I know there will be those who believe that the answer should be a resounding “no”.
The Northern Echo is a broad church, with columnists representing all shades of opinion.
Their views do not necessarily coincide with the views of the paper.
I do not always share Peter Mullen’s views.
But I regard him as a high quality, thought-provoking writer. His decision to remove the offending remarks from his website, and to issue an unreserved apology for causing offence, were essential steps if he were to continue writing for The Northern Echo. His column tomorrow will be an expression of regret.”
So Mullen keeps his column. But Mullen’s most notable position is not as a regional newspaper columnist. As Rod Liddle pointed out in yesterday’s Sunday Times, Mullen is also chaplain of the London Stock Exchange. Liddle wrote:
“Mullen’s principal worry is about the act of buggery – although he seems censorious about it only when it takes place between two consenting adults, rather than when it is applied without consent to the entire country.”
‘Hate mail hell of gap-year blogger’ – a headline from the Observer relating to Max Gogarty, whose first blog post on Guardian.co.uk about his gap year plans received a less than warm reception from readers.
The forthright criticisms left on Gogarty’s post were aimed less at the young writer’s style and more at his links with travel section contributor Paul Gogarty – Max’s dad – and as a result Guardian policy.
Since comments on the original post were closed, the paper’s travel editor Andy Pietrasik, digital editor Emily Bell and Observer columnist Rafael Behr have all reacted to the backlash – each trying to add a measure of calm to the situation.
The ‘hate mail hell’ to which the Observer piece refers lasted for around five days, but I can’t help but think the publisher might have expected this. Surely the accusations of nepotism made could have been foreseen, as could criticism of what value such a blog contributes to the section?
Furthermore, much of the criticism centres around the blog vs professional blog debate, arguing that the writing offered did not match up with the professional content elsewhere on the site.
As such I feel for Max – I don’t know how I would react to such a torrent of online abuse, especially as most of this abuse should be levelled at the publisher and not the blogger in question.
This was an editorial error by the site – neither reader nor writer are satisfied with the outcome – yet the paper’s commentators don’t own up to this, condemning this as a case of ‘online mob justice’.Yes, some of the comments are an attempt to outdo the last with their mercilessness, but the fact that over 500 were left on this blog should set alarm bells ringing.
Do the comments lose their credibility because they are largely angry (and yes, sometimes borderline abusive)? If so, why allow so many through the moderation process in the first place?
These are your readers – telling you exactly what they think – best to listen to them and not label them a mob.