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Paper Monitor

12:07 UK time, Monday, 15 December 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Journalists are lazy folk at times.

Thinking of new things can be pretty wearing for these delicate flowers, so they revel in the few opportunities they get to completely switch off their brain.

Usually these opportunities are sparked by the immortal words "cuts jobs, please", uttered by an editor in the general direction of a news or features grunt.

It might be 500 words on the history of Sizewell B power station or a brief biography of Lady Arabella Poinsworth-Liebfraumilch-Waddlesworth, but the key bonus is that no use of the telephone or Shanks's pony is required. Once upon a time the "cuts" in question were from the newspaper's own archive. Now "wiki job, please" might be a more appropriate term, although it is yet to catch on.

And the greatest cuts job of all is the "review of the year". It can be spun out to fill whole sections of newspapers.

But it seems these days that newspapers are so excited by this labour-saving prospect that they can't wait until the end of the year. Now Paper Monitor understands that a review of the year doesn't have to be printed on New Year's Eve. But 15 December?

Today the Guardian's G2 publishes its review of the year. The newspaper must have its fingers tightly crossed that the unfaithful celebrities, scandalous politicians and erratic rebel leaders of the world can keep a lid on their activities for the next fortnight and a bit.

In fact, seeing as this review was probably finished by close of play on Friday at the latest, it must have been a nervous weekend for those responsible.

The Guardian may not be the first - even the Saturday Guardian's Guide section may not have claimed that honour two days ago. Readers can submit any other sightings of gun-jumping reviews using the form below.

Grudgingly though, we must admit that this review of the year is actually quite good.

We cannot say the same about an outbreak of panic over at the Daily Express.

Their front page screams "KILLER VIRUS GRIPS BRITAIN". Time to run to the hills? Er, well, actually, not really. As a cursory glance over the second paragraph reveals that the "killer virus" is norovirus which may or may not have affected three million people last year.

Now a cursory Googling reveals an interesting academic paper entitled "Deaths from Norovirus among the Elderly, England and Wales" published in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal of the US Centers for Disease Control and written by John P Harris, W John Edmunds, Richard Pebody, David W Brown, and Ben A Lopman.

It estimates 80 deaths a year in people over the age of 65 could be associated with norovirus between 2001 and 2006.

The authors conclude: "Norovirus is usually considered a mild, self-limiting disease, and most of those infected with the disease make a full recovery with no long-lasting effects. However, this study shows that part of the population, those over 65 years of age, have a small risk of dying as a result of contracting norovirus."

So, killer virus?


  • Comment number 1.

    The Daily Express is almost right. Whilst norovirus itself is not deadly, it can be for some patients who are already weakened in other ways.

    It's only been since the 1960's (according to the BBC's own 1908 Casualty) that a mixture of sugar and salt in water has been able to prevent deaths from norovirus.

    The big problem this year has been the very cold start to winter, apparently the coldest in 30 years. Viruses like this can survive on the outside door handles of buildings in this weather.



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