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Paper Monitor

12:30 UK time, Thursday, 4 November 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

After yesterday's responses on the matter of whether there could possibly be anyone out there whose Saturday nights are dominated neither by X Factor or Strictly Come Dancing, Paper Monitor's perverse imagination took hold...

"Question of virtue! Timewatch takes on Elizabeth I chastity claims " - the Sun

"Cliff-hanger - are Shetland or Scillies Britain's best shoreline? BBC TV poll too Coast to call" - the Star

"Highbrow C4 documentary about World War II is actually really good" - the Daily Mirror

OK, enough already about possible tabloid takes on alternate Saturday night TV viewing. It being Thursday, the dominance of X Factor and Strictly on the red tops' front pages has subsided, but there's still life in Paper Monitor's other theme du jour - Poppywatch.

After yesterday's Daily Mail expose of Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow's refusal to wear a poppy, until Remembrance Sunday, Roy Hattersley wades into the argument in the pages of said paper.

"Poppy fascists?" runs the headline of the piece, appropriating Snow's perhaps unfortunate terminology.

Not surprisingly, given the paper in which Hattersley has decided to record his thoughts, this does not appear to be a robust defence of Snow.

But things get a little confusing when the former shadow chancellor seizes on the BBC's alleged policy of requiring "everyone who appears on its channels to wear a poppy - rather as they are obliged to have their hair brushed".

"I understand the annoyance [Snow] might feel if, on entering the studio, a young production assistant hurries up to him offering to pin a poppy to his lapel. That represents all the synthetic emotion which characterises television at its worst."

So is Snow's refusal to wear the poppy that he has apparently already brought, not a sign of independence of thought trumping so-called "television executive's diktat[s]"?

For its part, the Independent's iconoclastic young offspring, i, is not wearing a poppy on its front page - and editor Simon Kelner has written a short piece on why that is.

"[M]any newspapers already have the red poppy... on their front pages. And you will also see that it is not on the front page of i. This is not because we are dogmatic: far from it. It's because we believe that wearing a poppy is a matter of individual choice for you."

Well, at least it's a paper that knows its mind. But what's this...

"After all many soldiers died protecting our freedoms. One the other hand, a poppy on our front page would promote awareness and be a mark of respect. That's why you will see one on 11 November itself."

Eh? And just when you are completely disoriented by this logic, Kelner declares: "That said, it's your paper, and if you believe we should sport a poppy earlier, let us know why. We are certainly prepared to reconsider."

So, that, er, settles that.

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