Dog watches dog 05.06.03

Morgan makes a double splash

Even visiting heads of state would struggle to attract the number and calibre of Fleet Street editors that Press Gazette’s retiring – if not shy – chief reporter Jean Morgan managed last week. No fewer than 19 present and former eds (one for every year of her PG career) joined a Who’s Who of the world of journalism to bid her farewell at the Royal Commonwealth Society. The tributes flowed faster than the wine, as senior newspaper executives swapped stories of how Jean had broken to them the news of their own sackings or had been first to track them down after top secret talks about their new jobs.

She was also given an accolade that Dog believes must be unique in the history of Fleet Street – a farewell front page from both The Sun and the Daily Mirror at the same time.

Both were, of course, brilliant pieces of work, but Dog couldn’t help noting the glee of The Sun’s “Morgone” headline. Couldn’t be they were practising for the eventuality of a different Morgan’s departure, could it?

Masterpiece hung up after 19 years

Another memento that Jean left her farewell do with was a work by PG’s art editor Leonardo Da Rooney.

He was researching the famous “Morgan Stare”, which has Medussa-like qualities on any Press Gazette editor (she’s seen off seven) who dares dabble with the essence of the magazine. In the course of his mission, he inadvertently solved a mystery that has stumped art historians for centuries – the true identity of the Mona Lisa.

Now Dog doesn’t often waste valuable breath with platitudes or praise, but here an exception must be made. Over two decades, Jean has relentlessly broken great story after great story, and earned the trust and respect of many of the most cynical and hard-bitten names in the business. The kennel will miss many things dreadfully: her prolific output, her encyclopedic knowledge of national and regional newspapers, her contacts book.

But most of all Dog will miss being woken from Wednesday afternoon’s slumber by the air turning blue after the chief sub explains that her copy’s been cut.

The first of many?

New Hartlepool Mail editor Paul Napier is reported to have had his first run-in with Peter Mandelson. The MP’s complaints about previous editor Harry Blackwood prompted investigations by Mail owners Johnston Press, which led to Blackwood’s dismissal.

Mandelson was said to have taken exception to a Mail story on his London home being for sale, with pictures of the interior, even though several of the nationals had already run the story. He has never been known to mince his words, and mention of “invasion of privacy” came up in the conversation. Napier was said to have been taken aback by the confrontation.

Napier, diplomatically, will not comment. Mandelson denied he had complained, but added: “If I was making a complaint about the publication of photographs showing the interior of my house, I would have to submit the same complaint to the PCC about a number of national papers as well.

“I wish the new editor at the Hartlepool Mail all the best and I look forward to him exercising his personal independence and editorial authority over the paper as soon as possible.”

Contract is music to young Chris’s ears

When Ted Young was in talks with Richard Desmond last year about jumping ship from The Sun, he mentioned that his son played the guitar.

Desmond was so keen to poach Young to be executive editor of the Daily Express that he upped the bidding and said: “How about a Fender Stratocaster?” The deal was done.

Now Desmond, a dab hand on the drums, has proven as good as his word and presented Young with the Californian-made guitar this week – a year after he joined the Express.

It will go to his 13-year-old son Chris, who has his own band. Chris’s taste runs to Blink 182 and Incubus, but Young Senior said he did take him to see Bruce Springsteen.

What a fab dad!

Plea to dog lovers

Now here’s one that sent Dog scurrying to the nearest psychotherapist. On the face of it, this tale of a canine charity from the Ellesmere Port Standard should have been one for celebration in the kennel. But hold on a minute, let’s take a closer look at that picture. Despite what the caption says… those… dogs… aren’t… real. Toy impostors! Why? Why? Why?


Spotted on the news-stands in New York, a magazine called Modern Drunkard. It describes itself as a magazine devoted to the history and lore, the theory and practice, the joys and pains of getting plastered, bombed, ripped, hammered and blotto.

Its motto is “Let’s Get Drunk”. It is running a contest to find the Greatest Boozer of All Time. Already nominated: Ernest Hemingway, W C Fields, Jackie Gleason, Dorothy Parker and Sir Winston Churchill.

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