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Paper Monitor

12:22 UK time, Wednesday, 13 April 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

One of the most notorious of the many dark arts of journalism is the "doorstep".

This term refers to the practice of making an unsolicited, face-to-face approach to an interview subject, whereby the hack's task is to try and wheedle a few usable quotes from the focus of their (usually unwelcome) attentions.

If a door is not opened or no answer is forthcoming, the reporter then sits outside their quarry's place of residence until they emerge so inquiries can be bellowed in their direction while a photographer - here Paper Monitor uses a technical term - "hoses them down".

It is an activity that few journalists surely enter the profession with a desire to partake in, yet it is not - as some might suppose - restricted to the tabloids.

Look at the Independent's page five lead, in which a reporter's encounter with the recently-deposed Ivorian leader is billed in print as "Daniel Howden meets Laurent Gbabgo, under guard in his Abidjan hotel" (the online edition is a little more circumspect).

Here is Mr Howden's encounter with the erstwhile leader in full:

The door to Room 470 is opened to reveal a scrum of soldiers, and there on the bed is the briefest glimpse of the 65-year-old who held this country to ransom on his journey from radical history professor to hackneyed African strongman. Then the door is slammed and the message is passed that Mr Gbagbo is in "no condition to receive the media yet".

Paper Monitor is impressed that the Independent realised the value of a good doorstep. Although it surely can't be long before the intrepid Gillian Duffy earns herself a staff job on Fleet Street.

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