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Paper Monitor

12:47 UK time, Monday, 11 May 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Long-term readers will know the concept of a News Carnival, an event which can happen at any moment but which is unmistakeable. (Previous examples are here, here, here and here.) A News Carnival, in short, is declared whenever there is a story so big and juicy and compelling that one can imagine the relish dripping down the hacks' chins as they cover it. Expensesgate is that.

The Daily Telegraph is, of course, making all the running again with its revelations of Tory MPs' expenses. Normally another newspaper's exclusive rather rains on the carnival, but there is such a wealth of detail revealed it's almost as if there is enough to go round. Minute details of expenditure, even down to the pennies, plus brands, personal items, items mistakenly claimed for, pleading letters, excuses - this story has got it all.

Others (Mr Robinson, no doubt) will be better qualified to ponder the long-term impact of the story. Paper Monitor is just enjoying the ride.

But its sympathies are extended to the night editors of all papers except the Daily Telegraph. Mostly night editing is a fairly unremarkable job - making sure everything goes smoothly while watching for breaking news stories overseas and keeping one eye on newsstand rivals to see if they've got anything you haven't, which can be included in later editions.

At the moment you can substitute "newsstand rivals" simply for the Daily Telegraph. Picture if you can those night editors yanking the Telegraph first edition out of the delivery boy's hand and furiously rifling through it for the newest lot of angles.

It's not clear how the Telegraph came to possess the dossier but it's rumoured that other national newspapers turned down the documents because the price was too high, so in these cash-strapped times they may consider catch-up the most cost-effective policy.

As the focus shifts to the Conservatives, the Sun and Mirror pick up the juicy highlights but do not credit the Telegraph as the source, despite appearing to "lift" details directly from their rival.

The Sun refers to "leaked documents" and the Mirror even reprints photocopies of receipts, as if they were in their own possession.

The Times DOES mention the Telegraph. But it also omits to say that Michael Gove, one of the Tories in the spotlight, is a columnist and former assistant editor.

Eleven pages past the latest revelations, Mr Gove writes in his column that "the prospect of redemption hovers over the horizon" - although the guilt to which he refers is having so many phone chargers, not "flipping" homes, which he denies.

The Guardian revels in the Conservative discomfort and gives the Telegraph full credit for the story on its front page, although inside it also reports that the Telegraph had to backtrack on its accusations directed at Gordon Brown over his cleaner, having not adequately set out the prime minister's response to the allegations.

The Express can be forgiven for playing it all very low-key. After all, it has good reason to be smug, having told the country about Jacqui Smith's adult movies and bath plug back in March.

The Telegraph is enjoying setting the pace, with 10 pages including photographs of homes and maps to show the proximity of homes.

Its front page also highlights the importance of picture selection in setting a tone.

The sub-editors at the Daily Telegraph must have taken some time to go through their vast picture archive of MPs, to find the smattering of smirks on the faces of the six Conservatives featured on its front page.

Newspapers have hundreds of headshots of MPs, but in this case, all faces that suggested solemnity or contrition had no chance of being published.

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