A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.
You might have seen colourful poster adverts for the Guardian recently, saying: "You don't need to shout every day." It's a re-working of the old fable about the boy crying wolf. It's a skillful piece of work because although superficially it looks like it's attacking the screaming red-tops, the real target is the Independent and its overblown front pages which range all the way from "we're doomed, doomed, DOOMED, do you hear???" to "How do you sleep at night Mr B Liar?"
Well today's Indy isn't a bad illustration of the dangers of the approach. It's that rare thing - an actual story - but because the paper has devalued its own headlines you'd be hard pushed to realise it's news. The story (and Paper Monitor obviously has no idea if it's true or not) is that a failed US attempt to abduct two Iranian officials was the inspiration for the current hostage crisis.
The headline - "The botched US raid that led to the hostage crisis"- isn't in itself a bad one, and it's over a dramatic picture of some helicopters. But this being the Indy, you can't be sure, on an initial glance, that it's not a story about Vietnam.
Still, as it seems today's youth tell their teachers, whatev-ah. Paper Monitor can't actually remember throwing catchphrases back at one's teachers, as several of today's papers report young people as doing nowadays. Did the youth of the 80s really cry out "It's a dog-eat-dog world, and I'm wearing milkbone underwear!" in tribute to Norm from Cheers. The children of the 70s might well have gone round the playground saying "Shazbot, Nanoo nanoo" to each other, but to teachers?
In Paper Monitor's youth it used to ponder why theatre reviews sometimes broke out of the arts pages and were at the front of the newspaper. The answer became clear - and was two-fold: firstly the review had been written after the previous night's press viewing, so it had been too late for the arts pages' deadline. Secondly, the theatre review is one of those totems - a badge of pride from a certain era when newspaper competition was about more than just what DVD the marketing folk had come up with. It mattered what your respected critic thought of Olivier's new role at the Royal Court. Maybe people even chose which paper to take on the basis of the review?
So it's doubly odd, then, that the Times gives full "first night" treatment - all of page five - to a review of last night's Coronation Street. Has the Times really come to this? Coronation Street, like much of TV, isn't really Paper Monitor's thing. So what was the big deal about last night?
It was the culmination of a court case involving Tracy Barlow. She'd murdered her lover, and had a background (the paper informs us) of date rape, selling her daughter, taking Ecstasy, and perjury. Sounds like an ordinary day in soapworld, but reviewer Andrew Billen earns his place in the paper by lifting the whole piece above flim-flam into art. "Like Goneril and Regan, Tracy is not a daughter you want in your life," he writes, cunningly donning a Shakespearean beard of respectability.
One footnote. An obituary in today's Times notes the passing of Franco Cosimo Panini, aged 75. He was one of the brothers behind the sticker-album empire, and thus an inspiration for the Magazine Monitor's World Cup 2006 Crostini sticker album.