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Paper Monitor

10:22 UK time, Monday, 9 February 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Where do you get your copy of Metro? Does the local bus driver have a stack on the dash? Or do you join the scrum around the boxes at the station (get there too late, and the only copies left are the strays left on the train, dog-eared and possibly in need of de-worming)?

But if you are Gordon Brown - morning, prime minister - there is no unseemly elbowing necessary. Not because he doesn't read Metro, but because he's signed up for doorstep deliveries.

In an entirely natural quote, which carries not one whiff of having been crafted in the Number 10 press office, Mr Brown tells paperboy/reporter John Higginson - pictured* making an express delivery to Downing St - that he is an avid reader of the letters page in particular.

"It is important that the voice of those Metro readers is heard," the paper quotes the PM as saying, "which is why ministers in our government read Metro every day."

The article adds that cabinet office minister Liam Byrne is trying to find a way to distribute Metro across Whitehall so "everyone at the heart of government gets the same chance" to read it.

Paper Monitor has a suggestion. Use public transport. This offers an unrivalled opportunity to grab your own Metro, and also experience first-hand what letter-writers often have a beef with.

So here's what troubles Metro's letter-writers and text-your-brainers today. Why do some men sit on trains with their legs so far apart? Why no camouflage trousers in the shops? Grrr, bonuses for "fat cat" bankers. Are you listening, Mr Brown?

Meanwhile, the Guardian's man on the Bafta red carpet plays the oldest journalistic card in the book. Penned in to avoid too much interaction with the stars, he instead writes about the other reporters sharing the enclosure known as "Print Cluster 1", and the conditions under which they must operate. "[A] transparent marquee is held aloft by mirrored pillars, one of which neatly bisects [our] view... the first few stars shoot by in a blur, while the Guardian is helping a colleague with his bow tie..."

But he crafts a nice observation as the rain intensifies - watching the red carpet arrivals is "like watching a series of shiny, expensive automobiles process through a car wash".

And finally, on your behalf, Paper Monitor dutifully bought the Daily Mail on Saturday and watched its free DVD of the Dam Busters, all with the aim of journalistic investigation as to whether it would censor the name of Guy Gibson's dog. But no, the name was there in all its uncomfortable glory. (When ITV showed the film in 2001 it got into trouble for excising the name, as this Guardian story recalls.)

How will Peter Jackson handle this issue in the remake which is reportedly in production (with a screenplay by Stephen Fry, IMDB tells us)? Now the only remaining issue is how to get rid of the Dam Busters' March earworm.

* UPDATE 1502 GMT: For some time Paper Monitor has been meaning to launch a "strange names in the news" strand. What better excuse to kick things off than the photographer's byline accompanying said picture in the Metro: Gretel Insignia.

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