From the mystifying blunders department: The ‘accused’ man pictured above the Daily Mirror’s story about the church court case of ‘sex pest’ vicar Freddy Brown is indeed a man of the cloth. He is the Archbishop of York, David Hope – who has nothing to do with the case. Dog suggests 10 Hail Marys and a bout of deep soul-searching for the entire picture desk.
Minns beefs about hacks
Dog is pleased to kick off the year with the first Peter Jay Award for Tetchy Columnists. Jay famously tore a strip off a Times sub who had attempted to change his precious copy: "That piece was intended for three people in this country. You are not one of them." (Intriguing footnote: the sub in question, Dog has recently learned, was Keith Elliott, who now runs PMA Training.)
But Karl Minns, a columnist with the Evening News, Norwich, has taken the Jay tradition into new realms of bitterness, as his column from last week shows:
"Apologies for last week’s column, which was rewritten in my absence by a local journalist pretending to be a comedian. This week I have reversed the roles and am assuming the role of an Evening News hack. As I write, I am drunk, badly dressed and about to interview a man who has trained ducks to tango down the Acle Straight to raise money for a school in Mombasa. After that, I’m going to indulge in several hours of bitter, empty posturing, slag off everyone at the Eastern Daily Press, spend late afternoon surfing the net for porn, then take a four-hour liquid lunch before finally passing out in The Murderers at about 10 while trying to bed the deputy editor."
Dock Martin shakes in his boots
Border TV reporter Nick Martin has had an experience he doesn’t hope to repeat.
Arriving at a magistrates’ court to cover a controversial careless driving case, he was told it was already full with the defendants’ families and defence teams and he could not go in.
Martin insisted. The court clerk was adamant.
So Martin wrote a note to the judge, who stopped proceedings while there was a hurried meeting in a side room. The clerk, quoting health and safety rules, told Martin to ask a family member to leave so that he could go in.
Since the case involved the deaths of two cyclists, Martin was not inclined to go to their families.
So the court officials offered him the only seat left – in the dock.
"The story was going to be the lead on the Lookaround news programme, so it was either the dock or no story," said Martin. "I had to walk out into the packed court and into the dock with 8ft high, inch-thick glass between me and the rest of the court.
"I’ve done some bad things in my life, but it was the first time I’d ended up in the dock."
Sky high guy
One tabloid editor got a surprising reply from Guy Black, director of the Press Complaints Commission, on a Saturday before Christmas.
Ringing for guidance, the editor was shocked to get the answer: "You won’t be expecting me to talk about regulatory issues when I’m as high as a kite."
Sounds of spluttering from the editor nudged Black into an explanation.
He had dislocated his shoulder changing his cat’s litter and had been rushed to hospital, where he was given a morphine injection and gas and air while doctors manipulated the shoulder back into its socket.
"When I came out I was giggling and high," Black admits. "It took a bit of time to wear off."
Whiter than White
Taking his seat at the gala dinner prior to the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards, Guardian journalist Jim White was surprised to find himself directed to one of the best tables in the house, seated among sporting legends.
But he had barely tucked into his starter when there was a discreet cough in his ear. Perhaps sir would care to accompany the head waiter to a – ahem – more suitable table among the rest of the hacks right at the back? As he did so, the reason became clear. Passing him in the other direction was another diner – snooker superstar Jimmy "The Whirlwind" White.
What lure can the Daily Mirror throw out to snare a new City editor to replace Suzy Jagger? At least two of those offered the job have turned it down, Dog hears.
Lucy Farndon on the Daily Mail’s City desk and Dan Milmo, who reports on business and finance for Media Guardian, have both been tempted to run their own page, but have decided other pastures are lusher.
Farndon is said to have decided she will get more resources at the Mail and Milmo is expected to move over from the website to The Guardian shortly.
Dark arts lead to case of deja vu
"People who live in homes, whether renting or owning, whose value has risen because of higher property prices, face being hammered with higher council tax bills," thundered Tory councillor Brian Oxley in The Argus, Brighton, in December, of the new planning bill. "It will reduce the role of local councils, weakening the ability of local people to have their say in local developments."
The same week, Arundel and South Downs MP Howard Flight could be found in the Mid-Sussex Times, thundering: "People who live in homes, whether renting or owning, whose value has risen because of higher property prices, face being hammered with higher council tax bills. It will reduce the roleÃ‰" You know the rest.
This is what happens when an MP instructs his researcher – who also happens to be leader of the Tory group on Brighton council – to practise the dark arts of PR.