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Paper Monitor

12:07 UK time, Friday, 23 October 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Forgive Paper Monitor for not getting into the BNP-Question Time story that gets blanket coverage on the front page of today's papers. It's an emotionally charged issue, not least because Paper Monitor found itself prevented from leaving the office yesterday evening because of the demonstrations outside TV Centre.

It's not often one's workplace is "locked down" - to employ the official language of yesterday's communiqués - so readers should forgive any signs of siege mentality in the ensuing paragraphs.

OK, who's wearing the biggest poppy? (No, not a Question Time observation, although commentators concur that Baroness Warsi won that particular battle.)

With the annual poppy appeal underway, so far only two papers pin a red flower to the masthead - the Sun and the Daily Star. The Sun's - including foliage - is about the size of a 5p piece. It's dwarfed by the Star's - the leaf alone is bigger than the Sun's entire poppy. The inhabitants of Monitor Towers, having previously addressed the question of the right time to start wearing a poppy, will keep you posted as to when the rest of the papers follow suit.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail has an intriguing call and response headline: "Q: How do civil servants track down missing illegal migrants? A: Hold a tug of war, of course".

But that is but a brief pause on the way to Mail columnist Jan Moir's weekly offering. Her last effort mobilised the forces of Twitter and was the subject of a question on Question Time - that Question Time - so she could hardly just witter on about X-Factor and biscuits. Well, not only X-Factor and biscuits.

"The truth about my views on the tragic death of Stephen Gately" runs the headline this week.

Moir apologises for distressing Gately's loved ones by the "insensitive timing of the column, published so close to the funeral", but defends her use of the word "sleazy" to describe his death. She also writes:

"I can't help wondering: is there a compulsion today to see bigotry and social intolerance where none exists by people who are determined to be outraged? Or was it a failure of communication on my part? Certainly, something terrible went wrong as my column ricocheted through cyberspace, unread by many who complained, yet somehow generally and gleefully accepted into folklore as a homophobic rant."

The Guardian's Media Monkey column compares and contrasts what a difference a week - and a record 25,000 complains to the press watchdog - can make to Moir's opinion:

"Last week, Stephen Gately... 'could barely carry a tune in a Louis Vuitton trunk'.... but this week he was 'a talented young man [who] died before his time'."

For the record, Moir thinks those singing twins in X-Factor are "the stuff of nightmares" but "so entertaining".

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