Dog watches dog 02.12.04

The bookies’ favourites

It’s official: sports journalists make lousy gamblers.

Out of 29 sports desk teams given £250 to gamble over ten days by
online betting firm Betfair, 23 of them managed to finish the
competition with less money than they started with. Seven of them ended
up completely losing their shirts – among them the one publication that
really does have no excuse.

Yes, the Racing Post lost the lot.

It joins the pantheon of piss-poor punters that includes the Daily
Express, The Observer , The Independent , TeamTalk, the Daily Record
and the Herald.

Of the six teams to emerge in credit, The Times was a comfortable
winner, emerging with an impressive total pot of £750. It gets to keep
the cash, and Betfair will match the amount with a donation to kids’
charity Sparks. The same applies to all the teams that stayed in the

Spare a thought for the Irish Times though. It chose to bet its
entire pot on a final-day flutter on the Leeds v Rotherham match, a
gamble that would have scooped the title. But Rotherham, who hadn’t won
any of its 21 games this season, chose that night to break their duck.
The Irish Times ended with six pence.

Revolutionary approach to FoI

During a fascinating exchange at last Friday’s Law for Journalists
Conference, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, was unimpressed by the
approach of David Hencke.

The Guardian man, the law lord felt, was not entering into the
debate with a sufficiently open mind. “He is the Che Guevara of Freedom
of Information,” he told the conference. “It’s time to stop fighting in
the jungle and come back into the fold.”

Dog has no idea what Falconer was talking about, as this picture from the conference shows.

Reports of Hencke’s response – “Our every action is a battle cry
against imperialism, and a battle hymn for the people’s unity against
the great enemy of mankind” – are unconfirmed.

‘And the award winners were…’

Dog spent spent a rather surreal evening at the International Building Press Awards.

The bash seemed to lack the usual tension as the host ripped open the envelopes to announce the winners.

Why so laid back, construction hacks? It may have had something to
do with the fact that the results had been inadvertently posted to all
the guests one day early Host and IBP chief exec Gerald Bowey says he
plans to sue the Royal Mail – for choosing that one day to exceed its
delivery targets. “It got to the point during the morning where every
time the phone rang I just picked it up, yelled ‘I know’ and put it
straight back down again,” he said.

Bowey wonders whether to run the event in conjunction with Psychic News next year.

Campaign for Real Exclusives

Scotland on Sunday readers could be forgiven if they felt, on
21November, a degree of déjà vu over a story headlined “Revealed: true
cost of SNH’s flit to Inverness soars to more than £30m”.

That’s because it appeared in the Inverness Courier of 16 November
when it appeared as the exclusive page one story by Val Sweeney, under
the headline “SNH’s move north could cost £30m”.

Inverness Courier md Nick Martin says: “It is a bit sad that a
‘quality’ paper like Scotland on Sunday should try and give the
impression that their story about SNH was exclusive when it was, of
course, second hand.

“It also proves the point that people in the Highlands are wise to
rely on their local papers to find out what is going on. We did give
Scotland on Sunday the opportunity to set things straight. Strangely
they chose not to publish the letter.”

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