YOU CAN SAY TONY’S A LIAR IF YOU’RE FROM SKY
With the storm over John Humphrys’ afterdinner remarks about
politicians, you’d be forgiven for assuming that he was the first
journalist to ever suggest that Her Majesty’s Government were anything
other than bastions of truth and integrity. Not so.
Take these quotes from a broadcast news political editor, in a
session at the Edinburgh Festival: “Tony Blair lied to me… John Reid
lied over the NHS… They [politicians] all lie absolutely consistently.”
was the author of these remarks, Sky’s Adam Boulton, treated to
hysterical calls for high-level inquiries and covered with heaps of
ordure? Er, no. His remarks weren’t reported anywhere, even though they
were made in front of an audience of journalists.
And nobody saw
fit to ‘leak’ the transcript to The Times, either, as a certain Tim
Allan did with the Humphrys speech. Allan then used the Times story as
a hook for a piece highly critical of confrontational political
Which makes it all the more strange that
the Boulton remarks didn’t get any play. For to whom was he speaking on
the Edinburgh stage? Step forward, Tim Allan – Sky’s former PR, who
remains on some kind of contract with the broadcaster.
lost the Edinburgh debate – probably because people think that creepy
little ex-spin doctors like him are the real problem,” says an
Edinburgh audience member.
“Good to see he then decided to turn on Humphrys in the kind of scummy, underhand way he affects to despise.”
journalist enjoys seeing their work ‘lifted’ by the opposition, and
Neil Barker of the Manchester Evening News is no exception.
Barker, the newspaper’s sports specialist on all things Wigan,
ghosts the MEN column that appears under the byline of Dave Whelan –
Wigan Athletic’s chairman. Last week’s offering from Whelan, enjoying
his club’s first foray into the Premiership, explained how he’d made an
audacious bid to sign Michael Owen from Real Madrid.
stuff, and duly picked up by the following day’s Wigan Evening Post –
without, of course, any attribution to the MEN – and splashed over the
So incensed was Barker on seeing his work
being trumpeted for the opposition outside his local newsagents that he
stormed in and demanded the removal of the board.
“He’s a die-hard Wigan pie-eating type, and you wouldn’t mess with him,” says Dog’s source.
The newsagent duly complied.
sympathetic to the sensibilities of its reporters, the MEN sports desk
obtained a billboard of its own, and it hangs in pride of place on the
office wall as a constant reminder.
Dog is desperate and dim
“My nomination for the summer’s silliest story is a huge piece that
appeared on the back page of Press Gazette (2 September issue)
headlined ‘Desperate and dim – it’s summer’s silliest stories’,” writes
Robin Livingstone of the Anderstown News. “As summer padding goes, it
is pretty impressive.
“Given that you say that marks are awarded for the banal nature of
the story and the page prominence they were given, I think my
nomination can be the only winner given that it was a silly story
about, well, silly stories, and given that it was the back page lead –
a lofty perch that its rivals can only dream of.
inspired by your, ahem, lead, and by the fact that it seems like
everyone’s still on holiday, our chief feature writer is presently
doing a silly story on why silly stories about silly stories are silly
Dog writes: It’s a fair cop, Robin.
Rory Knight Bruce also puts pen to paper: “I was sorry that your
shortlisting of my Daily Mail feature of my horse and I for special
attention, should include the line ‘Rory Knight Bruce (who?)’.
three weeks earlier, Press Gazette carried an interview with Sam Leith
in which I was mentioned at length as his first editor and inspiration
when I ran the Londoner’s Diary on the Evening Standard. I now report
for the Daily Mail, Telegraph, Financial Times, Horse & Hound and
“No doubt your readers will be delighted to know
that, when my horse’s new owners read the feature about her bucking,
etc, they sent her back. I am unable, as yet, to charge this to
Editor’s note to kennel staff: why not read your own magazine from time to time? You might learn something.
world’s first liver donation from a living patient seems to have been
downplayed somewhat by the East Anglian Daily Times on its front page.
Sadly, the full story on page 5 reveals it was in fact a kidney transplant.
CATERER SHOULD FEEL SHEEPISH
Clevedon Newspapers’ news editor and chief sub Kevin Lee was
surprised to get an e-mail from Caterer & Hotelkeeper last week
alerting him to a story in his patch. A Somerset hotel that specialises
in wedding ceremonies was using sheep with words such as Love, Darling,
etc, to help shy folk to convey their emotions into speech. Not a bad
silly season tale, and quite a good PR stunt from the hotel. The e-mail
message asked that he credit Caterer & Hotelkeeper as the source of
“Er… don’t think so,” says Lee. “Even if a PR agency wasn’t the
source, then it might have been our Weston & Worle News edition of
two weeks before, or our Burnham & Highbridge Times, which both
carried the story and pictures of said painted sheep (hotly followed by
a letter of complaint about misuse of animals). Of course, we operate
outside the M25, so we obviously don’t register on the C&H radar.”