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Paper Monitor

12:58 UK time, Tuesday, 24 February 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Forgive Paper Monitor for coming over all Paul McKenna but let's try a little experiment.

Think of a woman in the news. Someone whose face has been dominating the papers - both tabloid and broadsheet - for a few days. Hold that thought and now try to think of another female who has also exerted a gravitational pull on national news editors over the past 48 hours.

And the names you are holding in your head are... Jade Goody and Gail Trimble?

The opposing intellects of these two women - one a reality TV star who became celebrated for thinking that Rio De Janeiro was a person; the other the captain of last night's winning University Challenge final, who has been lauded for knowing that the common name of the Betula pendula is silver birch, proves too good to resist for the Sun, Daily Mail and Times.

Of course, given Goody's tragic circumstances, there's a temperance in the tone of the Mail's piece, which asks why the ex-Big Brother competitor is celebrated while Miss Trimble is apparently being "vilified". The writer concedes: "You can hardly blame Jade Goody for taking the money from her worshippers."

The Sun's columnist Fergus Shanahan meanwhile, chooses to speculate on what Mrs Tweed (nee Goody) might make of Miss Trimble - the point being that the money she is making out of selling her wedding photos is to go towards funding her children's education.

Also in the Sun is one of the most extraordinary bits of "Gonzo journalism" of recent years. Hunter S Thompson coined the term to describe the type of writing where the reporter gets inside the story by, well, erm, actually being in the story.

In this case it's the paper's defence editor Tom Newton Dunn who, he is very proud to say, sank a pirate boat himself. Lordy.

Is this the outsourcing of the patrolling of the High Seas to News International? Sadly, the truth is a little more mundane.

Aforementioned Newton Dunn was on HMS Northumberland when the crew kindly let him shoot the mini-gun [a machine gun] at a wooden skiff that had been used in a hijacking in the Gulf of Aden.

"As the six-barrelled gun let rip 7.62mm bullets at the rate of 3,000 a minute, huge splashes rose around the target."

Hurrah for the forces of good. But only time will tell whether Newton Dunn can be reintegrated into civilian life after his Boy's Own trip to the Horn of Africa.

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