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Paper Monitor

11:31 UK time, Friday, 2 November 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's no secret that Paper Monitor has eclectic tastes, liking a bit of rough as much as a bit of posh. Today's posh comes from the Economist (which insists that it is a newspaper rather than a magazine, despite being A4 size, printed on glossy paper and stapled).

An article about the growth in small ads in newspapers for escorts or massages are, it reveals, often covers for prostitutes and brothels. "Last month the South Wales Echo ran a story about trafficked women working in Cardiff, only to discover that all of the brothels named in the article had advertisements in the same issue," it says.

The newspaper continues: "Whether such advertising is worth it for newspapers is another question. Editors must weight the money earned from these ads - perhaps a couple of pounds per word in a local newspaper - against the potential loss from offended readers and other advertisers who decide to go elsewhere. This dilemma applies not just to local newspapers: upmarket escort agencies target almost all publications - including, believe it or not, this one."

Which leads Paper Monitor to peruse the small ads at the back of the Economist rather more closely than usual. How about the one for a "tram franchising" opportunity - something Billie Piper might be required to simulate for ITV2? Or the one with the tagline "How far would you go to see more?" or "Beyond grey pinstripes"? Ooo AND er.

And now, to the rough. Those celebrity minxes sure know how to dress in the manner of an upmarket escort faking rumpy-pumpy for a digital channel. And who better to observe them in their natural habitat than G2's Lost in Showbiz. With costumes comprising stockings, catsuits and stripper heels, the night of frights has morphed from Halloween into "Sluttyween".

But instead of the usual pin-sharp observations from the ninth circle of hell, Lost... is rather too much like a first-year women's studies essay AND a name-dropping exercise. In small print at the end are the words: "Marina Hyde is away". In her hands, the ubiquitous celeb-watching column has evolved far beyond its usual confines, and her absence serves to indicate how hard it is to mimic a distinct voice.

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