I’m a Lobby Hack: ‘Lord’ Linford as he might look
Lobby crown up for grabs as hacks enter the jungle
Westminster’s political hacks were this week relishing the delicious opportunity of selecting their favourite – or least favourite – colleagues, and then eliminating them one by one in an imitation of the hit TV show I’m a Celebrityâ€¦ Get Me Out of Here! Sun Whitehall editor David Wooding conceived the idea of organising I’m a Lobby Hackâ€¦ Get Me Out of Here! And other political hacks quickly took it up as a welcome relief from covering stories such as the Hutton whitewash or Tony Blair versus Michael Howard duel at Prime Minister’s questions.
The 10 lucky – or unlucky – lobby celebrities include Wooding’s colleague at The Sun, deputy political editor and current lobby chairman George Pascoe-Watson, and lobby secretary Paul Linford of The Journal, Newcastle. Others are The Guardian’s Michael White, Tom Baldwin of The Times who is both envied and resented for his contacts with No 10 – Paul Eastham of the Daily Mail, and Bill Jacobs who famously puts in more calls to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw than any other lobby hack, as political correspondent of the Lancashire Evening Post.
The women chosen were Julia Hartley-Brewer of the Sunday Express, Melissa Kite of The Sunday Telegraph, The Herald’s Deborah Summers and Kirsty Walker of the Daily Express.
Wooding says: “Already they are jockeying for position. Kirsty is trying to become the Jordan of the group. Julia has got in a strop, claiming the nominations that put her in the jungle were rigged against people with double-barrel names.”
Dog is disappointed that none of the candidates will be buried in rat-infested coffins (apparently Howard’s wasn’t available) or forced to eat witchety grubs – but will of course keep readers posted as the twice-weekly axe falls.
The Biggleswade Chronicle ran this heart-warming tale of a pub winning an award for its charity work. But Dog thinks the landlord of The Cock Inn, in Gamlingay, may be having a surreptitious boast about something. Did the photographer notice the message on his mug? It looks as though someone has tried to blur it slightly but the message is still readable. No wonder his wife looks a little smug.
Thanks to Alex Millson, news editor of the Welwyn & Hatfield Times weekly in Hertfordshire, for sending in this press release from the Confederation of Burial Authorities, which begins: “The Cemetery of The Year Awards 2004 is relaunching its search for Britain’s best burial ground and stiff competition is guaranteed.” Millson asks: “Was the pun intended?”
Telegraph buyout off limits to staff
The best bit of gossip around Canary Wharf these days is, of course, about who’s going to get his/her hands on the Telegraph titles. But staff have been warned the subject is off limits.
They have received warning e-mails from Kim Fletcher, the editorial director, who told them as follows: “Generally speaking, it is very helpful to have members of staff giving their views in other media. We get good publicity from staff appearing on news and current affairs programmes.
“However, given the commercial sensitivities surrounding us at the moment, I would like to remind everyone that we should avoid getting involved in discussions about ownership of the titles.
“Feel free to discuss politics, fashion, sport, science and almost anything else that radio and television programmes, newspapers, magazines and websites want to raise: don’t get into talks about Telegraph Group Limited, Hollinger International, Hollinger Inc or past, present and prospective proprietors.”
Columnist gets it
Dog has no doubt that some subeditors enjoy nothing more than a good old slagging off of their reporter colleagues once they get down to the pub. But it’s not often they get the opportunity to put anything in print.
So imagine the glee of the sub putting together The Wharf’s letters page last week, when one correspondent laid into columnist William Ham Bevan over his previous week’s offering.
Objecting to his thoughts about children, Catherine Burnett wishes Bevan a “lifetime of complete impotence”, and fervently hopes he will give himself a vasectomy with a Biro lid.
And underneath the columnist’s picture is the gleeful caption “Ham Bevan: Moon-faced sack of puke”.
Given the manner in which Caleb Ness died – as the fourth paragraph of this story in Times Online explains – Dog wonders whether the headline-writer might have been a little more sensitive.
Good to see that subs at The Sun are fans of PG’s headline of the month competition, which featured this Lancashire Evening Telegraph entry last week. The original ran a mere 21 days before the super soaraway followed suit.