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Paper Monitor

12:18 UK time, Friday, 29 February 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

How could Paper Monitor have been so remiss; so inattentive; so thoughtless in not putting two and two together at the sudden absence of stories about Prince Harry stumbling out of various Kensington nightclubs and surmised that something was going on?

Did no-one else suspect anything? What about the paps who gather outside the likes of Boujis or Mahikis every evening… did they not ponder why their most lucrative quarry had suddenly gone to ground? Or were they too in on the media-MoD pact? Clearly this is a tactic that assures only rapidly diminishing returns from now on.

If the Taleban have any nouse about them, by now they'll have signed up to the PopBitch newsletter, sent off for their Grazia subscription and be keeping a watching brief on that heir apparent to the Woodstein throne, Australia's New Idea magazine.

Returning to Her Majesty's Press (a flippant epithet that has proved somewhat self-determining given the events of the past 24 hours), there's not an awful lot to choose between today's crop thanks to the fact that much of the Harry coverage was handled on press pool basis – one correspondent working on behalf of the entire press.

The virtually unsung hero of the day is the Press Association's chief reporter John Bingham. All those quotes from Harry about Terry Taleban, not having a shower for four days and there being no safer place than with the Gurkhas that appear in all the papers – they're Bingham's. While the Mirror runs Bingham's interview verbatim, most of the others pepper his quotes into more elaborate pieces by-lined by their own staff reporters. (The Times, at least, has the good grace to credit Bingham, albeit at the very end of its main story.)

Discounting all the pool material, Paper Monitor must get its kicks where it can… like the Mirror's headline Dirty Harry, the Sun's poster (Paper Monitor will have to take this on trust as said artefact seems to have fallen out of its copy) and the Independent's utter, steadfast refusal to play up to the publicity value of the story by not mentioning it at all on its front page.

It all rather knocks the Battle of Plastic Bagistan off the agenda, although the Mail is claiming "victory" after Gordon Brown committed to a plastic bag levy. So is that it then? With the PM behind its campaign the fight must surely be over. It will go down in history as the other Three Day War.

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