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Paper Monitor

12:50 UK time, Monday, 18 April 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor has known of many journalists who are shy about their image appearing in a newspaper or on a news website.

Some go as far as shunning byline images, but it's more normal for the line to be drawn short of anything showing the reporter "doing" anything.

By "doing" we mean the wacky things that, feature writers in particular, tend to get up to.

Robert Hardman is not one of these journalists. He has penned a lovely little feature in today's Daily Mail.

It's the story of a painstaking restoration of a wrecked steam locomotive by a rag-tag assembly of enthusiasts.

It's a fascinating and entertaining read. But Paper Monitor is confused by its main image - of Hardman astride the train like a 1980s model draped over the bonnet of a souped-up Ford Escort.

Normally, when a reporter appears in such a picture, it is because he or she is involved in the story in some way - having performed a daring undercover investigation, for instance, or placed him or herself at the centre of events, Gonzo-style, like Hunter S Thompson, Jon Ronson or Louis Theroux. Or even having taken part in the restoration of a wrecked steam locomotive.

Hardman has executed a diligent bit of feature-writing. But your humble columnist wonders what the reporter has done to make his own countenance so crucial to the story, other than admit that he is a "non-railway buff".

Perhaps there is an army of Mail readers out there who eagerly await each of his photographic depictions in the paper, treasuring these images as British squaddies did with the Daily Mirror's cartoon strip Jane during World War II.

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