Dog watches dog 01.05.03

Bike gets around

The office bike – a term with a very particular meaning in certain circles – has a new meaning for journalists at the Hampshire Chronicle.

Unable to persuade the management of the need for four-wheel transportation, the lucky lot are getting their very own bicycle to share. Oh! And a nicely painted shed to keep it in.

Publishing staff are hacked off by canteen closure

The staff of The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times, Glasgow, have heralded the take-over by Newsquest Media of their newspapers for £216m with an empty feeling in their stomachs – literally.

The newspaper hacks have been barred from Scottish Media Group’s staff canteen after the building was split in two following the sale. Sadly, the restaurant is on the Scottish Television side, which is out of bounds to the newspaper gourmands for security reasons.

“It is regrettable that publishing staff won’t be able to use the restaurant,” said an SMG spokesman, adding: “But they are going to make their own catering arrangements.”

Perhaps a pie and a pint in the local hostelry will return to the agenda for all the hacks who have opted for spring water as the newspaper industry has shown its disapproval of journalists scooping prodigious quantities of the hard stuff while on duty.

Blackwood left with a bitter taste

In his new column for the northern editions of The Mail on Sunday, Harry Blackwood, deposed editor of The Hartlepool Mail, recalls the visits of Peter Mandelson to his office.

Before the MP arrived, Blackwood’s secretary had to dash out to buy a lemon for the fussy Mandelson’s favourite drink, a cup of boiling water with a slice of lemon in it.

“It was a standing joke that I used to spend 10 minutes sucking on the lemon in order to make Mandy more palatable,” Blackwood remembers. “Not true I’m afraid it was more like 30 minutes.”

No beach for Hilsum

Where do war correspondents go for their holidays? A wave of journalists coming back from Iraq after a testing time in the field will be planning on a few weeks R&R.

Channel 4 News diplomatic correspondent Lindsey Hilsum has caused some mirth and not a little incredulity among colleagues with her choice of holiday destination. After weeks spent holed up in Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel, both before and during the conflict, Hilsum arrived home last week. But with a few weeks off to recuperate, Hilsum isn’t heading for the beach or a tranquil Tuscany chateau. She’s off to Iran for a horseriding holiday.

“No one can quite believe me when I say it, they think I’m mad to even think about going back to the Middle East,” she said. “But when the chance of a horseriding holiday came up, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss.”

Al kinds of confusion

The BBC’s longstanding reputation for impartiality was nearly irrevocably damaged last week, when director general Greg Dyke got his Arab news makers mixed up.

Speaking to media students and academics at a symposium at Goldsmiths College, DGGD lost concentration for only a small moment – but long enough to accidentally rename Dog’s favourite Qatar-based news broadcaster “Al-Qaida”.

Dog understands how the BBC may well have reasons to be envious of the fashionable Al-Jazeera.

But there’s just no need for that kind of name-calling.

Prostate problem gets out of hand

There has been much hilarity in the US following a caption on an ABC News bulletin report about Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, who had to undergo an operation because he was suffering from prostate problems.

Thanks to a typing error by an overzealous copy editor, the caption on the item in World News Tonight reported that Greenspan was receiving treatment in hospital “for an enlarged prostitute”.

Greenspan’s wife, who is NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell, said of the report of her husband’s surgery: “Enlarged prostitute? He should be so lucky.”

More attractive gathering

Daily Telegraph media editor Tom Leonard, perhaps unimpressed that the guest list at this week’s London Press Club’s awards luncheon could only muster a mere Cabinet minister, decided instead to inveigle his way into a more luvvie-filled bash just along the Claridge’s hallway.

Lord Levin’s drinks reception boasted a galaxy of West End stars – a more appealing prospect than the roomful of sweaty hacks he should have been rubbing shoulders with.

Although it didn’t take long for a PR minder to spot the interloper, he was by then engrossed with Prunella Scales – who insisted on leafing laboriously through his copy of the Telegraph to remind herself of the name of another actress.

By the time the actress finally discovered what she was looking for, the PR minder had steam coming out of her ears and practically frog-marched Leonard out the door.

The ever-urbane Telegraph man blamed the whole episode on a Claridge’s staff member sending him the wrong way.

A likely story, Dog reckons.

Bland member of the moving band

With Leonard finally in the right room, Andrew Marr popped up to collect his award for Broadcast Journalist of the Year, sponsored by British Gas.

But not before judges’ chairman Bob Edwards had one of those “I could have got away with it if only I hadn’t paused” moments.

What he was trying to say, Dog thinks, was something like: “Marr is one of that band of journalists who successfully moved from print to TV.”

What he actually said was: “Marr is one of those bland journalists”

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