BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for March 2, 2008 - March 8, 2008

10 things we didn't know last week

16:47 UK time, Friday, 7 March 2008

10-potatoes_203.jpgSnippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. Princess Eugenie's first name is pronounced YOO-jenny rather than yoo-JAY-nee
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2. British intelligence chiefs tried to guess Hitler's plans by studying his horoscope.
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3. The average midweek bedtime is between 10pm and 11pm.
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4. Two million e-mails are sent every minute in the UK.
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5. Jackie magazine was named after author Jacqueline Wilson, who was a teenage journalist there when it launched.

6. The whitest place in England and Wales is Easington in County Durham.
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7. Prison pay is on average £9.60 a week.
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8. Zombies can't run because their ankles would snap.
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9. Latvia has the highest cigarette tax in Europe, at 80% of the price. The UK level is 77%.
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10. Households on average spend more on pets than they do on UK holidays.
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Sources: 5 - Daily Telegraph, 7 March

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week. Thanks to Sarah Glanville in Horsham for this week's picture of 10 potatoes.

Your Letters

16:01 UK time, Friday, 7 March 2008

Regarding: "Walliams completes swim to Africa."Walliams was sick in the water and the pair saw dolphins and whales." Congratulations and everything, but that does have to rate as one of the oddest sentences ever. What, he was sick AND saw dolphins? Where will the excitement end?!
Sarah B, IOW

I am 35 and know exactly who the Phantom Flang flinger was. I also used to have a Wellyphone (I would like to point out, not a real phone connected to the GPO network, just a pair of wellington boots with one tucked into the foot hole of the other).
Stuart, Corsham, Wiltshire

"The head of the LGT, His Serene Highness Prince Max von und zu Liechtenstein, is a member of the principality's ruling family." Well, you never would have guessed from his name!
Michael, Exeter, UK

Oh, this has to be a quote of the day: "Zombies don't run," he states firmly. "They can't! Their ankles would snap."
Sara, Camden, London

I found it amusing that today's article on "E-mail is ruining my life!", about how we get too much email, is followed by the link: "E-mail this to a friend."
Denise, London

In the article about email you show a picture of the "inventor of email", Ralph Tomlinson. Surely that's Ricky Tomlinson?
Simon Guerrero, Melksham, Wiltshire

Could we have a "Magazine Monitor" love affair starting, Molly from Dorking and Stuart from Croydon? (Thursday's letters) The geography works. I think they should meet up and see what happens!
Dan Davies, London

Is anyone else excited to see what Molly (Thursday's letters) from Dorking says in response to Stuart from Croydon? Do we need to go and buy a hat? (TM Cilla Black).
Vicki, Abingdon

Stuart from Croydon (Thursday's letters), you made my day by replying! A signed photo would be a great addition to my desk at work - send any entries c/o PM.
Molly, Dorking, UK

Paper Monitor

10:58 UK time, Friday, 7 March 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Forget raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, if newspapers had to list a few of their favourite things then acronyms would be right up there. This love affair has spawned a whole vocabulary of its own, with words like Neet (Not in Employment, Education or Training) and Fids (Fully Involved Dad) regularly gracing news pages.

But acronyms that really have editors singing like a Von Trapp are those that neatly fit the stereotype of the parasitic, irresponsible 30-something who is frittering away all their money - and usually their parents' savings too - with no regard for their future.

We've had Kippers (Kids in Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings) and now we have the Tiswas generation (Thirty-Somethings Without Any Savings). This group of under-35s are heading for "financial meltdown", according to the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph.

It's the nostalgic element that makes it such a winner, the only problem being for an entirely different generation. Surely anyone who used to watch the anarchic 1970s Saturday morning television show is firmly in their 40s? Would your average under-35-year-old Brit have any idea who The Phantom Flan Flinger was? Oh well, let's not let accuracy get in the way of a good acronym.

Sometimes you wonder if it's someone's job to simply come up with such words and catchphrases and then the story is written to order - or indeed a whole campaign. Take the government's "All Cisterns Go" initiative to safeguard the great British loo, taking up the whole of page three in the Times. In this case it doesn't matter which came first, the name or the initiative, it's absolute genius. Give that person a pay rise.

Friday's Quote of the Day

09:12 UK time, Friday, 7 March 2008

See the Quote of the Day every morning on the Magazine index.

"Like me, he is a bruised pilgrim" - Ex-minister and former prisoner Jonathan Aitken offers succour to Conrad Black as the newspaper tycoon is sent to prison.

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When Jonathan Aitken was jailed for 18 months for perjury and perverting the course of justice in 1999 few could have predicted the transformation. The man who went in a proud, wealthy former minister is now a born-again Christian, theology student who has been praised for his work on prison policy. So it is perhaps not surprising he has reassuring words for newspaper tycoon Conrad Black as he begins his own prison sentence. It might be seen as a particularly apposite source of succour, with Black having once famously dressed as a cardinal for a fancy dress party.

Your Letters

15:42 UK time, Thursday, 6 March 2008

Can anyone explain why the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras was on Saturday 1 March, when Shrove Tuesday was 5 February?
David Richerby, Leeds, UK

On the financial news at the beginning of the Today programme at 6.15-6.25 this morning the presenter actually said that 'the rise in the price of coffee was filtering down to the consumer'. He really did - honest. I nearly fell out of bed laughing...
Alan Wesson, Exeter, UK

Monitor: We can confirm that the business presenter did indeed say this, probably accidentally.

Can we have some pronunciation clarification please: despite the double "t", is he still called Warren Booff-AY or actually Buff-ette?
The Bob, Glasgow

As a kid myself, I am fed up with the comments currently in the media about kids. While I accept that some children are troublesome, the majority of kids aren't.
Mike Johnson, London

At first I was worried about Easington's decline. But then I read that "the council has a snazzy modern brand depicting a man springing forwards, looking to the future". So that's all right then.
Edward Green, London, UK

Molly from Dorking (Wednesday's letters) - you've made my day. Would you like a signed photo?
Stuart, Croydon

From today's Scottish news: "Tourist body in mountains gaffe". Before reading the story I assumed that a body of a tourist had been found - couldn't for the life of me think what the "gaffe" could have been.
The Bob, Glasgow

Paper Monitor

11:34 UK time, Thursday, 6 March 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Harry's back and it's business as usual, but with a twist, over at the Sun which has "Our homecoming hero" reuniting with girlfriend Chelsy Davy. But by the looks of things, the ghost of Kenneth Williams has taken over the controls on the subs bench. With the couple's reunion having taken place in a less-than down-market district of West London, we're told "Harry's back in Chelsea". Ooooooo matron.

Still, at least Chelsy's idiosyncratically spelt name doesn't see her frequently confused with a selection of cold meats, salads and cheeses. Paper Monitor refers to the newly-crowned richest man in the world, Warren Buffett - that's two "t"s in Buffett. Now, far be it from this column to cast the first stone over such matters, but as today's Guardian inadvertently proves, with its headline "Warren Buffet tops Forbes list with $62bn fortune" all the money in the world won't necessarily buy you the privilege of having your name spelt correctly.

At least the Guardian is in good company. A quick search on Google News reveals others that have fallen into this elephant trap recently include such luminaries as United Press International, the Belfast Telegraph and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Finally, back to the Sun for Travelodge Watch (the phenomenon of repeated mentions in the press of a certain chain of budget roadside motels). Sadly for the PR meisters, this is an object lesson in the downside of getting your name out there too much. "Anti-freeze wife: Prison is just like Travelodge".

Thursday's Quote of the Day

09:30 UK time, Thursday, 6 March 2008

"This silly woman makes even Jade Goody look like someone with an Oxford
first"
- Tory MP Ann Widdecombe attacks Oscar winner Marion Cotillard

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Since winning the best actress Oscar for her turn as Edith Piaf in La Vien en Rose, Marion Cotillard has suffered a bit of controversy for comments in a reprinted interview in which she apparently suggests the 9/11 attacks were an American fabrication. Ann Widdecombe, Conservative MP and columnist, is just the latest to question Ms Cotillard's intellectual credentials.

Your Letters

15:42 UK time, Wednesday, 5 March 2008

The photo at the top of your article on February's obituaries describes the late lamented Dave Clark Five singer Mike Smith as the band's "Lead singer and vocalist" [now corrected]. Can someone please explain the difference between these two roles in the band? Does it mean he announced the next song during the gaps between playing them?
Mark Johnson, Manchester

This story mentions a pensioner's "largely solitary conversations with cats Twinkie and Pudsey". Largely?
David, Bagshot, Surrey

Am I alone in being disappointed that this image only contains 9 things?
Robert, Surrey

Jacqueline Wilson is a very successful author as her figures demonstrate, but I can't help but feel that her lamenting children growing up too quickly is due to the fact that her style of fiction is one that children grow out of rapidly.
Christian Cook, Epsom, UK

Chris Morris eat your heart out ("Police duped over fictional drug"), Thames Valley police have put the icing on the "cake" !
Louisa, Leicester, UK

Surely this article is taking the Ashes to Ashes bandwagon a bit far.
Rachel, Leeds

Re "One night out damages hearing", if the professionals who set up music systems often have damaged hearing, it's hardly surprising if they turn up the volume, is it? Perhaps it's time for all sound engineers to have compulsory hearing tests and stop perpetuating the damage down the generations.
John E, Eastleigh, UK

Is there a giant game of space invaders going on in the background of Wales's Big Picture?
David Richerby, Leeds, UK

I don't know about naked surfing (Stuart of Croydon's letter of yesterday), but I often sit in front of the computer in my underpants
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Is there anyone else that looks out for letters to PM from Stuart, Croydon? He always manages to pick up on those stories that I manage to miss during the working day, like today's naked surfing. A treat for the last hour of work!
Molly, Dorking, UK

If Match of the Day's monthly competition is back, then why are the Cap Com and Punorama still absent from our screens?
Sarah, Bucks
Monitor: Would that it were that simple

How to say: Dmitry Medvedev

14:44 UK time, Wednesday, 5 March 2008

An occasional guide to the words and names in the news from Martha Figueroa-Clark of the BBC Pronunciation Unit.

After recording a landslide victory, Dmitry Medvedev, Vladimir Putin's chosen successor, has been elected President of Russia.

The pronunciation of Medvedev's name presents quite a challenge to English speakers, as Hillary Clinton demonstrated when prompted to say the name on MSNBC recently (which you can watch here).

As media coverage of the elections has shown, several pronunciations are already in use among British broadcasters, including muhd-VAY-dev and MED-vuh-dev (the latter is considered incorrect).

The Pronunciation Unit's recommendation is DMEET-ri muhd-VYED-uhff (-uh as in the; -vy as in view; the final 'v' is devoiced so it sounds like 'f') but it was a challenge for us to decide exactly how we should render this name in English and, before we could decide on a definitive recommendation, we had to consider the following factors:

-the native Russian pronunciation (which sounds close to myid-VYED-yiff; -my as in mute; -vy as in view)
-the extent to which this name is likely be anglicised by non-native speakers of Russian (since his name will undoubtedly crop up frequently)
-ease of production (will it be pronounceable in English?) and ease of perception (will it be clear to our audience who it is our broadcasters are talking about?)
as well as
-consistency - all of our advice incorporates systematic Anglicisations which are based on our knowledge of the phonology of the language in question.

The above are just some examples of the issues we regularly have to consider when forming recommendations.

In the case of Medvedev, we have had to compromise: we cannot expect non-Russians to pronounce this name in a perfectly Russian way because this would require broadcasters to have detailed knowledge of Russian pronunciation, which is not feasible.

Having carried out detailed research and consulted with Russian speakers, including a Russian phonetician, we concluded that correct stress placement and reflection of the soft (palatalised) 'v' in the stressed syllable were the most important aspects to highlight in our anglicised pronunciation.

The surname Medvedev stems from the Russian word for 'bear' medved' (with stress on the second syllable), so that it is important to retain this stress in the surname, hence our recommendation muhd-VYED-uhff.

Listen to an interview with Martha Figueroa-Clark on Radio 4's Today programme here.

Paper Monitor

12:05 UK time, Wednesday, 5 March 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

They may have dawdled initially but the crusade to find missing nine year-old Shannon Matthews has now been well and truly grasped between the teeth of those tabloid terriers, with front page splashes in both the Sun and Daily Mirror. But why the belated interest? Only a hardened cynic could believe that they were influenced by murmurings of a comparison between the lack of interest in Shannon and the Madeleine McCann media extravaganza being class-based. Even Paper Monitor would be hard pushed to suggest such a motive. But, if you'll excuse the leap from papers to online-only content, the Guardian blogger and seasoned media commentator Roy Greenslade (writing in his blog here) clearly has no such hesitancy.

On a lighter note and where’s more likely to raise a smile than the tale of the streaker who ran across the pitch at a cricket match between Australia and India and was met by a tackle from batsman Andrew Symonds, launching him into the air. The Daily Express goes for “Streaker is hit for six” while the Sun takes it to another level with “Batman decks joker” accompanied by a caped crusader-esque cartoon “KA-POW” superimposed onto the photograph. Surprisingly no sign of a reference to him being a cheeky chappy…

From the undressed to the well-dressed. It's official. Those hipsters over at the Daily Telegraph have announced the return of the cardigan. Such is the significance of the news that it’s even made it to the sacrosanct pages of the paper’s editorial. Could this make for the quickest reversal of a fashion revival? And are those fine fellows over at the Telegraph aware that this rise in cardigan-wearing is (probably) not of the twin set and pearls variety?

Wednesday's Quote of the Day

10:19 UK time, Wednesday, 5 March 2008

"It's the sort of thing parents might chant encouragingly to a child slow on the potty-training" - Anglo-American writer Christopher Hitchens on Barack Obama's slogan 'Yes, We Can'

Writing in Slate magazine, Hitchens says: "It is cliché, not plagiarism, that is the problem with our stilted, room-temperature political discourse."

It's not the first time that the Obama rhetoric has come under scrutiny but Hillary Clinton has also created a few soundbites that could kindly be described as vague.

"Big Challenges, Real Solutions", "Working for Change, Working for You", "Ready for Change, Ready To Lead" and "Solutions for America" are some that incur the irritation of Hitchens.

Your Letters

16:18 UK time, Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Naked surfing? the water's only around six degrees in Scotland at the moment. They must be nuts.
Stuart, Croydon

Nominative determinism strikes again! Or do you just make this stuff up? Surely there isn't really an MP supporting the British pig industry called Richard Bacon?
Adam, London, UK

British pig industry supporter Richard Bacon MP. Trust him to "hog" the limelight!
Esther, High Wycombe

Charlotte Wilde (quote of the day)? Trains animals?This is inverse nominative determinism, nothing like as common as the positive sort.
John Knight, Beverley, UK

Adrian (Tuesday's letters) - the longest noun-headline I've seen is 'Hump dig man case verdict appeal' - about the chap who dug up a road hump with a JCB.
Dave, London

Regarding: Some New York stores prefer euros. Has the dollar really sunk so low that Jay-Z can only afford "a briefcase of 500 euros"? Or is it a briefcase of 500 Euro notes?
Richard, Abingdon, UK

Re: "Neighbours cut ties with Colombia". I didn't think the Australian soap was shown there anyway!
Mike Harper, Devon, UK

Oh, COME on BBC. If you're not going to let us have our Caption Competition back, could you PLEASE stop printing pictures like this.
Sue, London

Paper Monitor

11:47 UK time, Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Comments

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

There was a spring in Paper Monitor's step this morning on picking the papers up from the doormat at Magazine Towers. For last night's final of University Challenge gave one the opportunity to greatly impress one's significant other. Yes, it was the "Words Regarded as Troublesome" bonus round in which Paxo asked the contestants which word in the BBC News style guide he was reading the description of.

For anyone who didn't see it, the words were "crescendo", "fulsome" and "enormity". And Paper Monitor got the correct answers EXTREMELY quickly. Significant Other was, strangely, completely unimpressed, only remarking how interesting it was that the infinity sign (the figure eight on its side) is apparently known as a "lemniscate" and asking whether Paper Monitor knew that, which of course put one in one's place.

Still, it felt good.

But on to the matter in hand – today's papers. The thing about thrusting young media-savvy royals is there's always another one just around the corner. So as one ostensible PR campaign for a grandchild of the monarch peters out, so another begins. This time, it's the turn of Princess Eugenie. Many of the papers picture the younger of Prince Andrew's daughters from a photoshoot with a glossy magazine.

It's one of these deals where rights to use the picture are only granted if the full cover of the magazine in question is also reproduced. How does Paper Monitor know? Because it gets the pictures too, and at the top of this one, in thumping bold red capitals, are the conditions of use:

"PICTURE MUST BE USED IN CONJUNCTION WITH TATLER MAGAZINE COVERSCAN"

See, even repeating these terms requires naming the magazine in question and so giving it the oxygen of publicity.

But while many of the papers run the pictures, the Independent goes a stride further with a full-page edited extract from the magazine interview. Ok, that was a weak joke. It's actually the Telegraph.

And from it we learn that frankly, cousin Harry is a bit of an old duffer compared with the "streetwise and smart… edgy [and] modern" princess. While a stonewash-jeaned Harry tapped his toes at last summer's Diana memorial concert to assorted aging rockers, Eugenie likes "hip indie music" like Death Cab for Cutie.

The effect on Paper Monitor (not to mention Telegraph readers) is to leave it feeling a little deflated. Is there a term for being "out-hipped" by an 18-year-old, public school-boarding member of the Royal Family? (Submissions gratefully accepted by the COMMENTS button below).

Still, Paper Monitor (acting in the interests of its sister strand 10 things), is at least indebted to the princess for one factlet: her name isn't pronounced you-JAY-nee, rather YOO-genny "with the stress on the Eu".

And those are two letters you won't hear the Telegraph stressing in glowing terms very often.

Finally, and in other business, the Ashes to Ashes bandwagon is moving into second gear, with two stories (in the Mail and Express) today on the return of the perm.

Daily Mini-Quiz

10:36 UK time, Tuesday, 4 March 2008

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For those led here by the answer to Tuesday's Daily Mini-Quiz, here are three bottles of the award-winning Dorothy Goodbody Wholesome Stout.

Alcohol Concern had complained that the image broke industry rules about linking alcohol with sexual prowess. The drinks industry watchdog, the Portman Group, rejected the complaint, saying the image was in the spirit of the old-fashioned saucy seaside postcard. A spokeswoman for the Wye Valley Brewery, which makes Dorothy Goodbody, said the complaint had been "fantastic publicity" for the beer. The Monitor doesn't know what she's talking about.

Tuesday's Quote of the Day

09:23 UK time, Tuesday, 4 March 2008

"It helps if you can work with a greedy hamster as you get better results" - TV animal trainer Charlotte Wilde

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Television animal trainer Charlotte Wilde tells the Metro newspaper that the art of coaxing the animals into performing for the camera largely relies on food. Cats can be trained, but only if they like their food. At the same time, hamsters can be trained if they're greedy animals but they can still bite a lot and generall be hard to work with.

Your Letters

14:54 UK time, Monday, 3 March 2008

Not being one to generally mind (or even notice) what the Royals say in the press, I've been surprisingly annoyed by the comment from Harry in this article. Surely it's a requirement of the third-in-line to the throne to at least pretend to like the country he might be head of state of one day?
Martha Hampson, London

Is Francois Crompton-Roberts (letters, Friday) looking forward to the day there's an outbreak of C.diff. in Tenerife?
David, Romford

Thank you for your disclaimer at the end of Paper Monitor today. Alas, my sister and I are renowned in our family for our trusting and open (ie gullible) natures - so until I got to your final sentence, I'm afraid I'd been completely taken in by your Pepys quote, and was marvelling at his fashion-conscious nature. Thank you, BBC, for sparing me the mirth of my family and friends if I had passed the quotation onto them.
Vanessa, London

There used to be an unofficial contest, I believe, among newspaper sub-editors to see who could craft the longest headline made up solely of nouns. So much the better if they were ones you wouldn't normally associate with each other. Your headline in this piece would be a worthy contender.
Adrian, Manchester, UK

"Imagine if together we build a Britain where what counts is not how high up you start, but how high you can reach," says Gordon Brown. Never have I heard such a case of blatant sizeism. I'm appalled.
Joe Ball, Nuneaton, England

Any particular reason why the Quote of the Day on 3 March 2008 comes from a news story published on 2 July 2006? Can we now look forward to future Quotes of the Day relating to the Sudanese goat bride or the Hotmail "prank" or, maybe, something from Churchill during WWII?
Peter, MK

Monitor: Monday's Quote of the Day was briefly from this story then it was changed to a more timely example. We're sorry.

Paper Monitor

11:53 UK time, Monday, 3 March 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Barely a year ago Paper Monitor was tutting somewhat self-righteously at the sudden embracing by all Her Majesty's Press of Life On Mars. You couldn't move for references to Gene Hunt.

Well it looks like that particular media mania is coming back to life, stirring from its coma as if it was - oh well you get the idea.

Today's Metro is a case in point. "Curl up and dye, big hair is back," it says after a chanteuse appeared with something on her head which was last seen in Kylie's video for Locomotion.

Apparently there is a new trend for people to regain that 80s look, inspired by Keeley Hawes' appearance in Ashes to Ashes. It also says that the 80s are "the so-called decade that fashion forgot". That was the 70s, surely? (Though an interesting footnote is this reference from Samuel Pepys' Diary for March 1664/5: "I went forth about my own business to buy a pair of riding grey serge stockings and sword and belt and hose, and after that took Wotton and Brigden to the Pope’s Head Tavern in Chancery Lane, where Gilb. Holland and Shelston were, and we dined and drank a great deal of wine, and they paid all. My we looked like something summoned from the 1630s, that decade which fashion forgot." *)

It's a good point about the haircuts, but surely this is the start of a new Watch: Genewatch - for any spurious references in the media to Gene Hunt or similar.

In any case, haircuts and tight jeans are only one aspect one fondly remembers of bygone eras. How about completely shameless pun-laden news stories? Metro carries this gem today under the headline: "An uplifted pear".

"Harley Street will be cosmetically enhanced when it is planted with 45 pear trees. The trees will line the London street famed for surgical make-overs,in a plan by Westminster City Council. But patients will not get a nice pear without surgery as the trees bear no fruit."

Ahh let the good times roll.

*Paper Monitor's disclosure, in the interests of restoring trust between broadcaster and audience, is that the last sentence of the Pepys quotation is entirely fabricated.

Monday's Quote of the Day

09:26 UK time, Monday, 3 March 2008

"It is true Cuba has political prisoners and no free elections, but it has very good dentistry" - Lib Dem MP Paul Holmes, who signed a Commons motion praising Fidel Castro

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Paul Holmes was one of dozens of MPs who signed a Commons motion praising the achievements of Fidel Castro in the fields of healthcare and education. Critics in the blogosphere have attacked the MPs who have done so, pointing out Cuba's poor record on human rights, including routine disregard of free speech and jailing of journalists.

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