SHARON WHEELER

I’m an
inveterate newspaper and magazine shredder – there are piles of
cuttings in my house and office destined for teaching examples or
material for a feature-writing book I’m working on So, delving into the current crop…

Out
of the press coverage of the London bombings, three articles caught my
eye, two of them from The Guardian. I tell students not to bother
reading The Guardian for the news writing, but instead to read G2 and
the supplements for the top-notch, often slightly leftfield, features
ideas.

Getting Colonel Tim Collins to comment on Marie Fatayi-Williams’ impassioned
speech for her missing son was a masterstroke. Oliver Burkeman’s
feature on how the emergency services reacted to the bombings was a
textbook example of how to pace and structure a lengthy piece.

And
Peter Zimonjic’s first-hand account in The Sunday Telegraph of being on
the bombed Edgware Road Tube was stark, punch-to-the gut writing that
will stay in my mind.

I’ve discovered through bitter experience
that students are more likely to read magazines than newspapers.
There’s little to catch my eye in the women’s glossies. If I read
another feature on how a 30- something woman has bravely gone it alone
to fulfil her dream of starting a handbag-making business in Weybridge
or producing chocolates from a shop in Wimbledon, only to discover that
rich hubby has bankrolled her, I shall turn very nasty!

My
magazine box is full to the brim with music and sports magazines. The
Observer’s Sports Monthly is a mustread, with intelligent, well-written
features. Having once proclaimed to a class that only 40-something
saddos bought Mojo, I now admit it’s the first music magazine I buy
every month. Erk, point proved!

Oh yes, and there’s FRoots,
once known as Folk Roots. The feature writing is on the ponderous side
of poor, but it’s worth it for the world music album reviews and the
wonderfully sarcastic one-par summaries. I shall take to heart their
exhortation never to trust an album with a glockenspiel on.

Sharon
Wheeler is field chair in Journalism and Professional Writing at the
University of Gloucestershire and also editor of
www.reviewingtheevidence.com

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