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Paper Monitor

13:08 UK time, Thursday, 24 February 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Newspaper diary/celebrity/gossip columnists are strange beasts. Like Autolycus in A Winter's Tale, they must become snappers up of unconsidered trifles.

A diary or gossip column contains the sort of stuff far too trivial to masquerade as news, but far too interesting not to report.

Richard Kay in the Daily Mail is arguably the doyen. His formula is tried and trusted. At the heart of the page is a picture of a young and attractive woman.

Today it's 21-year-old Amber Le Bon, daughter of Yasmin and Simon. Yesterday's was Czech model and Tsunami survivor Petra Nemcova, but it's just as likely there is an Hon or Lady somebody or other on there. For the layout to work the woman in question has to be tall and slender.

Then circled around the posh lady picture are a few small stories - fallings out in High Society, fashion world people doing eccentric things, and so on.

The woman's head is often partially cut-out and left protruding onto Kay's byline. Paper Monitor seems to recall that this design technique is known as a runaround.

Kay operates a certain degree of restraint. It's a work requirement for columnists and the minions who contribute that they get to plenty of social occasions, but he doesn't place himself constantly in the action.

Today's Kay highlight is the revelation that Boris Johnson's sister Rachel is considering doing a "spread" in GQ. She will not appear naked.

A world away, people from journalism and TV often read Media Monkey in the Guardian on the basis that the closer you are to the action the more interesting things become.

Kay's column works the other way round. The further you are from the action the more interested you are.

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