Dog watches dog 10.07.03

Front page makes a second splash

The Birmingham Evening Mail’s award for the Front Page of the Year in the Press Gazette Regional Press Awards has made a splash for the second time.

When a workman attempted to hang up the signed certificate in editor Roger Borrell’s office, he hit a main, sending water gushing out.

“It was complete panic,” an insider told Dog. “Everyone was rushing around with wastepaper bins trying to catch the water. The jet was so powerful it went from one side of the office to another – it was like a geyser!” The winning front page was, of course, the splash on Birmingham City’s promotion. “Going Up”, the headline read. Much like the water level in Borrell’s office.

Writer’s rough cab journey

Another victim of the post-ceremony mayhem was James Fraser-Andrews, shortlisted in the Feature Writer of the Year category. The Ipswich Evening Star writer was weaving his way down from the Hilton when a black cab unexpectedly appeared on the road in front of him.

Not being thoroughly well versed in the etiquette of the capital’s roads, Fraser-Andrews politely tapped the bonnet of the vehicle. Whereupon the cheeky cockney cabbie demonstrated the traditional sense of humour for which his fraternity is renowned, by leaping out of the taxi, grabbing the young man by the throat and hurling him across the street.

Undeterred by the finger marks around his neck, Fraser-Andrews was already thinking how to turn the episode to his advantage.

“I feel a feature coming on,” he said, albeit in slightly strangled tones.

Competition spills over into the bar

Last Friday’s Regional Press Awards was, as always, a battle of the titans, a clash of giants. But here Dog isn’t talking about the race to be named Newspaper of the Year. No, the real face-off took place in the Shepherd’s Tavern, scene of the usual post-

ceremony chaos.

There, at the bar, the two big guns sized each other up. Heather Wozniak, managing director of the Hull Daily Mail, and Neil White, assistant editor at the Nottingham Evening Post, stood face to face, fingers itching at their sides before they went for the draw.

Seconds later it was all over.

Wozniak slammed down her freshly emptied pint glass, leaving the Evening Post man still frantically draining his ale.

“Don’t take it personally,” she said. “I haven’t met a man yet who can drink a pint faster than I can.”

And with that she wandered off in search of her next victim.

Daily Press bags pair of spectacles

Not content with taking back to Bristol a bagful of trophies and certificates, including Regional Newspaper of the Year, the Western Daily Press team also came away with an extra pair of spectacles.

If there is anyone out there who attended Friday’s awards and is currently looking at a blurred vision of the world, contact the WDP’s Yvonne Cook on 0117 934 3223.

Oakley goes back to basics in Brussels

When newspaper buyout king Chris Oakley, pictured, did his latest big deal last year, selling Regional Independent Media to Johnston Press for £560m and netting himself a tidy sum in the process, he insisted that he would not retire or sever his links with newspapers.

Now Dog’s mole in Brussels, where Oakley moved after the deal, reveals the journalist-turned-multimillionaire wheeler-dealer has been as good as his word by taking a new roleÉ as a casual sub on a weekly news magazine.

Oakley explains that he wrote to English-language title The Bulletin offering his services as someone who had “some experience of regional newspapers” in the UK.

“After a probationary shift they were good enough to say they would like me to come in every week when I could. It’s extremely enjoyable,” he said.

But are his new colleagues aware of his pedigree as the former Birmingham Post editor, who led a management buyout of the Birmingham titles and later sold them to the Mirror Group for £297m, and then repeated the trick with RIM in Yorkshire?

“I don’t think they do,” admits Oakley, who still acts as a consultant for venture capitalists Candover. “To them I’m just some old fella who turns up on press day and subs a few pages.”

And do they pay him well? “I don’t think anyone should do anything for nothing, so, yes, they pay me a decent casual rate.”

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