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Paper Monitor

11:23 UK time, Monday, 30 July 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

With Parliament in recess, the schools on holiday and, at last, the promise of good weather, the papers are entering that traditional summer news twilight zone known as the Silly Season.

Now Paper Monitor has grown a little sceptical of talk of the Silly Season. After all, the papers these days hardly need the excuse of summer to fill their pages with weird/unlikely/just plain stoopid tales. But that's the point – a real Silly Season story is not just your average Man Bites Dog eyebrow-raiser. It needs to have something else; an almost unquantifiable essence. In the past, the Magazine has toyed with the idea of a spurious equation (along the lines of Formula Won) to qualify exactly what counts as a Silly Season yarn – all suggestions gratefully received through the COMMENTS button below.

Until such time as we have an internationally-recognised formula, which has been subjected to peer review, Paper Monitor will rely on its finely honed instincts.

Which leads it to the front page of today's Sun. "Jaws 2 – second sighting of Great White circling off the coast of Cornwall."

Yes, as if Saturday's splash – "GREAT WHITE SHARK OFF UK" - wasn't spine-chilling enough, the Sun has tracked down seven-year-old Callum Price and his mum, Catherine, who have video footage of another sighting.

The footage in question is hardly high definition – but there is unmistakable evidence of water (probably of the briny variety) and black triangularish shapes that could indicate a Great White's dorsal fin (or one of several other creatures of the deep).

No matter, it's a perfect chance to whip up some mild panic in the locale of Porthmeor where holidaymakers are fearful of dipping a toe in the water. Just to complete the sense of pantomime, there's a picture of page three stunner Danni bikini-ed up and holding a pair of binoculars.


  1. At 12:03 PM on 30 Jul 2007, alexander wrote:

    As a scientist I can tell you that the formula for silliness of a story is as follows:


    where S=silliness
    F is the fluffiness of animals
    a is number of animals
    R is rudeness of vegetables
    v is number of vegetables
    P is number of pictures
    W is number of words (per 100)
    and l is average word length

    I've asked Lord [name withheld] to have a look at it and he agrees, so it's peer reviewed.

  2. At 01:18 PM on 30 Jul 2007, S Murray wrote:

    I think the formula is:

    (B(aA + cC + pP) + TV)/P) x SF, where A is the number of animals involved (and a is the cuteness/oddity of the animal involved), C is the number of children (and the c is the cuteness of the children), P is the number of people involved (and p the prettiness of said people), B is the boffin count, TV is how closely the event correlates to an TV show or movie, P is the amount of politics involved, and SF is the star factor; ie the number of celebrities involved and their relative fame.

    This story gets a middling score from the formula; it's got nasty animals, bikini clad models and cute children, but no celebrities or PhD students with an unusual thesis - yet.

  3. At 04:36 PM on 30 Jul 2007, Candace wrote:

    Silly Season Formula

    Y - Silly Season Yarn
    O - Number of Occurrences amongst papers
    C - Celebrity index (scale of 1 to 10 where 10 would be most recognised)
    T - temperature in London
    AP - animals or politicians involved (1 = yes, 0 = no)
    SCF - number of scantily clad females
    R - whether it is raining (1 = yes, 0 = no)

    Y = ((O*C + T)*AP)^SCF - R

  4. At 09:22 AM on 31 Jul 2007, Jel wrote:

    SS is "Silly Season"
    MML is Magazine Monitor Letters
    NPC is Non-Politically-Correct
    CLC is C-List Celebrity
    GWB is Our Beloved Leader
    and Q is "quotient"

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