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Paper Monitor

11:18 UK time, Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Paper Monitor takes a professional interest in these matters (kind of goes with the job, really) and there's no reason why you should know this, but the Independent has had a new editor for a few weeks now. And already you can see the difference.

Today's front page, for instance, completely fails to depress you or make you worried about the world. Instead, there's a nice picture of a smiling Paula Radcliffe, with no mention at all of the spider or possibly scorpion which bit her and which one might have expected to be pinned on global warming.

And page three, instead of being a sober analysis of the latest threat to civil liberties, has a story about how Italy has become the home of wife swapping. What made Paper Monitor's jaw drop, though, was the comment panel at the bottom of the page. One might expected an article about the differences between northern and southern Europeans, or a piece examining the role of climate or diet on behaviour.

But no. Instead it's a piece about oral sex in the UK. Apparently, columnist Catherine Townsend alleges, in Britain, "swinging is everywhere".

"Exclusive sex parties such as Fever and Killing Kittens have brought swinging from the sub-culture to the mainstream. On any given night, behind unmarked doors in the capital, attractive young couples are stripping off to watch their partners join writhing orgies on beds as big as swimming pools."

Two questions. One: if swinging is everywhere, how come these swinging parties can be called "exclusive"? And two: is there anything which might reasonably be considered as "evidence" for the claims that British behaviour has changed so dramatically? Obviously Paper Monitor is open-minded about the subject. But, shall we say, sceptical.

There's the sound of scores being settled elsewhere. In the Times, David Aaronovitch writes about the media's treatment of Gordon Brown.

"Some columnists I can think of, on other newspapers, make me blush with their weather-vane 'we thought Gordon was marvellous but he has proved us wrong' schtick, as if, somehow, the man whom they had so praised for the decade of his slow premiership campaign had grown unexpected hair and teeth on a full-moon night last autumn."

Ooh! Get him! But who's he's thinking of?

He reveals all: "Don't you recall all your guff about him not being flashy like Bad Blair, but that being a big plus? You changed, oh Guardianistas, not him: he wasn't as good as you said he was, and he isn't as bad as you now paint him."

Oh so it's the Guardian. Where he used to work. This almost qualifies as a row.

Favourite thing in today's papers is in the LA diary in the Times where Chris Ayres writes about a service which allows you to ring a friend's mobile and leave a message on their voicemail without their phone actually ringing. This means you can make it look like you have returned calls without having to talk to anyone. Paper Monitor likes that idea.

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