Dog watches dog 11.09.03

‘Genius’ Dracula intro doesn’t count

This story reaches Dog’s kennel about the early days of the Manchester Evening News’s Steve Panter, who has been at the newspaper for 25 years and is leaving journalism to take up teaching.

The first story Panter did at the MEN, out of the district office, was about the council banning a gory picture of Count Dracula from the front cover of a children’s arts pamphlet. He recalls that the heavily clichéd intro he wrote started with, “A storm broke today…” The next day a reader rang to congratulate him for being a “genius” to write such a brilliant intro that was an anagram of the name Bram Stoker, the author of Count Dracula. “To be honest, in those days, I’d never heard of Bram Stoker,” Panter admits.

“Of course, I hurriedly covered up my surprise and said ‘Yes, you’re the only reader who has spotted it so you must be a genius as well’.”

Dog feels, now that Panter is moving on, it’s finally time to break it to him: There’s one “o” too many.


All-time-low penny-pinching antics must be addressed and stamped

Those keen to get a first step on the journalistic ladder are used to indignities such as unpaid work experience and writing gushing letters about why it really is their life-long ambition to write for Widgets Weekly.

But now the Newsquest-owned Western Telegraph may have hit a new low. It is asking job hunters to send a self-addressed envelope along with stamps to the value of 42p if they want to apply for the trainee position.

Perhaps the penny-pinching antics of the Pembrokeshire title are a bid filter out the less keen applicants.

Dog asked editor Fiona Phillips for an explanation. “It’s just a way of keeping our costs to a minimum. I suppose if anyone is in real financial hardship then we could waive that. I think it’s standard process for most companies.”

Apart, that is, from the BBC, Trinity Mirror, Johnston Press, Northcliffe, Quantum Business Media…


“What a Great Player Neil is!”

Sunday Independent cricket columnist, Richard Latham is a hard-working chap. So much so that on Tuesday night last week, the Plymouth hack was toiling away so diligently in the press box that he lost track of time. When he came to leave the ground, he found that he was locked in. Panic set in and a night kipping on the back seat of his Ford Mondeo loomed.

“The only hope was a light in one of the flats in the ground,” says Latham. “With some trepidation and embarrassment I knocked on the door.” It was answered by young cricketer Neil Edwards, relaxing ahead of his innings the next day, who was able to release Latham from his evening prison.

Now Dog doesn’t wish to impugn Latham’s objectivity, but the headline the following Sunday?

“What a Great Player Neil is!”


Too many pints of Stella

There were “shambolic” scenes on the usually tranquil Scottish island of Bute as the Fleet Street pack descended to cover the wedding of Stella McCartney to Alasdhair Willis.

It culminated in a flame-haired reporter from a popular national redtop, launching a foul-mouthed tirade against a local freelance snapper and asking him outside for a fight.

McCartney decided to shut the press out from her wedding on the Mount Stuart estate leaving reporters and photographers to wait at nearby pubs and hotels for guests to return from the shindig.

Apparently the visiting Londonbased reporters had an agreement to share whatever copy they could glean and set up camp in the bar of the Kingarth Hotel.

Meanwhile, several photographers had staked out the nearby St Blane’s Hotel up the road.

The trouble started when the two groups converged in the bar of the Kingarth. The tabloid reporter at the centre of the scene was aggrieved because he said he had been talking to Sharleen Spiteri (from the band Texas) and no photographer had been around to capture the moment.

Reportedly he button-holed one freelance, pointed a finger in his face and called him a “low life piece of shit” for “screwing up his story”. He then rounded on the rest of the photographers to ask them all0out for a fight.

A reporter from a rival national paper said: “He called them all useless wankers – he was lucky he didn’t get a smack in the face.”

Another added: “He ended up grovelling to everyone he’d been mouthing off to, then to cap it all it turned out he hadn’t been talking Sharleen Spiteri at all.”



Dogging lead

A note drops through the kennel letterbox from Nigel Ellway of the Countryside Agency’s press and parliamentary office.

“Reading your story on the Swingers Heaven website,” blurts Ellway, “I think I know what may have led you to it. A few weeks ago I was asked by BBC Farming Today, followed by several other journalists, if I had a comment on a report into ‘dogging in country parks’.

“After consulting with colleagues on what the hell dogging was, we too found the same website. My response to the story was ‘the Countryside Agency would like to see people behave responsibly and considerately while enjoying the countryside’, … and no, we can’t tell you which are the best places in the countryside to join in.”

We believe you, Nigel. And we’re sure you’ll feel better having got the admission off your chest.

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