BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for March 20, 2011 - March 26, 2011

10 things we didn't know last week

16:57 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011

Snippets from the week's news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.

1. More than 70% of banknotes initially reach the public via cash machines.
More details

2. Tennis Girl doesn't like tennis.
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3. YouTube's first video was called "Me at the zoo".
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4. Booking fees can be as much as £26.
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5. Ian Fleming created Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
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6. More than a fifth of the world's population live in the time zone GMT+8.
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7. Russell Brand gardens.
More details (London Evening Standard)

8. The baby son of physicist Brian Cox, George, has the middle name Eagle, named after the first spacecraft to land on the moon.
More details (Guardian)

9. More than 90% of schoolchildren study Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck.
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10. The first text message ever sent read: "Merry Christmas".
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Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week.

Your Letters

15:22 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011

Why do men shout at women in the street? Peacock behaviour, shout, get smiled at, other men acknowledge this, status increase... probably, or they think its funny.
Clare Charlton @BBC News Magazine

I work in the fares department of a railway company (dodges bullets). But imagine the flak we'd get if we charged a "booking fee" at the ticket office over and above the fare. "Sorry sir, a single to London is £12.60, but with booking fee that's £14.10". At least we, the much maligned railways, don't do that!
Ken, Hornchurch, UK

It's always nice to see an old friend (Caption Comp, Friday), but how many more times is the "See Mum! See Dad! And you said a degree in media studies was a waste of time!" caption going to be chosen as the winner?
Helene Parry, S Wales expat to Brentford

Re: Paper Monitor, Err, boss? PM has told me to go enjoy the sunshine. I'm taking the rest of the day off, No, not Prime Minister, Paper Monitor. No? Darn it.
Robyn, Cheshire

MM - Can you please be quiet for just 5 minutes, I'm trying to find some "me" time to contemplate how wonderful life would be after winning £117 million. I promise I'll carry on sending letters, but I'll probably go part-time and not worry so much about spelling and grammar and so on. I'll also employ someone else to get my coat.
Richard Champagne, Doncaster

Why is everything big and fat these days? (Thursday's letters). I'm not fat... I'm big boned!
Malcolm Rees @BBC News Magazine

Suzie (Thursday's letters), if it helps, I tried to comment on yours
Mark, Lincoln

Caption Competition

12:49 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.
The competition is now closed.

There is still no prize, except the traditional small quantity of kudos. Full rules can be seen here [PDF].

This week it was a mime artist in Sao Paulo trying to raise awareness among motorists and pedestrians to respect traffic signs.
Thanks to all who entered. The prize of a small amount of kudos to the following:

6. Whatever Next
Shortly after being accused of making the horrible smell the little green man turned bright red.

5. Woundedpride
"He stole my cigar!"

4. ARoseByAnyOther
Now we know why the chicken crossed the road.

3. Punky
Lady Gaga: The early years.

2. SimonRooke
See mum! See dad! And you said a degree in Media Studies was a waste of time!

1. Moiness
New Lollypop Lady uniform trial proves unsuccessful.

Paper Monitor

10:48 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The newspapers have a long tradition of investigative journalism - News of the World fake sheikh, otherwise known as reporter Mazher Mahmood, take a bow. But now there is a new champion of this noble art - the showbusiness editor at the Daily Express, Elisa Roche.

Not so long ago the producer of Midsomer Murders, Brian True-May, caused a media storm by saying the ITV1 programme "wouldn't work" if it featured racial diversity. In subsequent weeks the rest of the media moved on from the story, after all there was the small matter of an earthquake, tsunami, military strikes against Libya and a budget to write about.

The Express, however, never took its eye off the ball. It was going to find a non-white face in the programme even if it took nearly two weeks of watching endless episodes both day and night, which it probably did as the show has run for 14 series.

But as Woodward and Bernstein knew, patience is a virtue. Ms Roche's rich reward for all those hours of investigation was in an episode from 1997, called Left For Dead. It's mixed-race actress Indra Ove.

"Midsomer DID once feature a mixed-race star" the paper's headline triumphantly shouts. She played a "bright young woman" called Charlotte Knight in the episode. And... that's it. That's the whole story. Case closed. Pulitzer Prize is in the post.

And here's some other equally important "news" in the papers today, diced and sliced for you, just in case you missed it:

Coleen Rooney holds a yellow flag on a Barbados beach - in the Sun.

Carol Vorderman wears leather trousers and is 50 - in the Daily Mail.

Crooner Chris de Burgh sells wine for a lot of money - in the Times.

Now you know all you really need to, go and enjoy the sunshine.

Your Letters

15:49 UK time, Thursday, 24 March 2011

Enough! Why must all stories about weddings have the words 'big' and 'fat' in the headline? It's just lazy. Don't you dare start a big-fat-wedding-watch.
SS, Caernarfon, Wales, UK

How can a ticket for a sporting event have a £26 booking fee? Because it can. Often because the location gets a cut of the overal profit, but they get ALL of the booking fee. This happens especially with theatres but even more so now with cinemas, even if you are buying it there and then.
Kevin Symonds BBC News Magazine

Bob Carter's victory in short mat bowling's Tens League is celebrated in this excellent, but to many readers probably puzzling, headline was found in the Norwich Advertiser: "Carter the unstoppable Tens machine as they claim league crown". Although maybe in Norfolk the overlap between bowlers and nineties indie fans is larger than expected?
DavidN, Denny, Stirlingshire

If you hit cigars with a hammer (Wednesday's letters), would you create a smoking ruin? Sorry, I'll get my (smoking) jacket.
Ian Oliver BBC News Magazine

Should I be worried that I automatically tried to 'like' Rik's letter? (Wednesday's letters)
Suzie, London

Dear MM - please don't insert extra carriage returns between the end of a letter and the contributor's name (Wednesday's letters). It makes me nervous. Thankyou.
Sue, London

Paper Monitor

11:23 UK time, Thursday, 24 March 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

With the sad loss of Elizabeth Taylor, the newspapers are full of personal reminiscences.

Her starry friends offer their tributes, but humble journalists also chip in with their two penn'orth (or two cents worth).

In the Times, Magnus Linklater remembers the day he saw her on set, drank gin and tonic in her hotel room while being berated by Richard Burton, and sat with her in a pub, a car and an airport cafe.

The Daily Mail's Baz Bamigboye offers a fairly excruciating anecdote of him dressing up as a singing telegram and serenading Taylor with a rewritten version of Cole Porter's I Get A Kick Out Of You.

She apparently enjoyed it. On another occasion she told Bamigboye off for flying over Michael Jackson's estate in a helicopter while Taylor was getting married.

But she later gave him a big hug, so all was forgiven.

Back in the Times, Caitlin Moran writes an ode to Taylor's beauty, although without any recollections of a meeting.

The Daily Star, unusually among the papers, finds no room for Taylor on the front. It's the page 11 lead and perhaps the Star's analysis is that with its youthful demographic, there is little appetite among readers.

It is borne out in Text Maniacs, where there isn't a single text relating to Taylor.

Your Letters

17:16 UK time, Wednesday, 23 March 2011

"Male employees may wear a short and neatly trimmed moustache of natural colour." No restriction on females then.
Ralph, Cumbria

Re The Royal Wedding List, perhaps they're not having one as they already have evrything, or, if not, could probably quite easily afford everything?
Jo K, London

I can understand a South Londoner's trepidation at the prospect of being stuck north of the river. However, assuming it was Lee Nelson who wrote this headline, is he perhaps laying it on a bit thick?
Rik Alewijnse, Feering, Essex, UK

"Churchill's cigars go under hammer". That's not going to do them much good, then, is it?
Paul H, Hull, UK

Re the photo caption. The interesting comment would be that there were ANY people in the exclusion zone. I thought the clue was in the name.

Adrian, London, UK

In your article "Marianne Faithfull receives French honour," you state: "Previous recipients of the French honour include Sir Michael Caine, singer Stevie Wonder and actors Sir Roger Moore and Dennis Hopper." And there was me thinking Michael Caine could act.
Rob Falconer, Llandough, Wales

Paper Monitor

10:21 UK time, Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

"Left hand meet right hand. It's important you stay acquainted so that our newspaper doesn't have amusing juxtapositions."

Or so the office mantra should have been at the Daily Mail.

Sandra Parsons, the latest columnist to try and fill the shoes of the late, great Lynda Lee-Potter, is frothing enthusiastically on the subject of pornographic pop, oversexualisation of children and Rihanna advertising S&M.

Agree or disagree, it's a pretty coherent broadside. And while it's illustrated by a picture of Rihanna, she's reasonably modestly clad. Well, clad at least.

But some readers may find their eyebrow fluttering at Parsons' line: "In the ordinary course of life, young teenagers would have no need whatsoever to know about sadomasochism."

Riffle, riffle, and Paper Monitor flicks forward from Parsons' berth on page 15 to page 19. There you can some big pics of an alleged bunga-bunga party (see here for a discussion of the term).

There's a big picture of two young women seemingly about to kiss, with a third approaching. But the Mail finds even more space for a picture of a woman dressed in "tight-fitting police uniform and pouting". She's dangling a pair of handcuffs.

Now this might not quite be Rihanna, but it's hardly L'Osservatore Romano.

And speaking of unVatican-like stories in today's papers, the one that sticks out is the tracking down of the girl from the Athena tennis girl photo.

The famous 1976 photo, a rear view of a blonde girl on a tennis court, holding a racquet and lifting up her dress to reveal her bottom, is the centrepiece of a new exhibition.

The "girl" is now a 52-year-old mother of three. The papers can't resist this one surely. Most of them go big on it, including the right-on Guardian. Only three seem not to feature it - the Daily Telegraph (although it goes big on bunga bunga), the Independent and one other.

Can you guess?

Err, it was the Daily Star, who obviously felt not enough flesh was being flashed in the original photo.

Your Letters

16:33 UK time, Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Paper Monitor asked for our own signs of spring. Men and boys going topless at the first sign of sunlight.
Ian Roberts @BBC News Magazine

Rosie (Monday's letters) you should have talked to your fellow Magazine fan, he could be the love of your life. I feel the need for some more Magazine Monitor matchmaking.
Kate, York
Monitor note: Which reminds me, did Andrew from Malvern and Kat from Coventry ever have that Christmas drink?

Rosie, you're not in a Jane Austen novel - don't be so shy.
Alexander Lewis Jones, Nottingham, UK

Mark (Monday's letters), depending on daily variations you should call him 31p.
Bob, London

Re £5 notes and getting them "in a syringe" (Monday's letters), Paul, any problems can be referred to my wallet as there is always plenty of available space. Pleased to help.
Tim McMahon, Pennar/Wales

Nominative determinism gone mad!
Tommy Scragend, Wigan

Paper Monitor

11:20 UK time, Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Spring has now sprung. Contrary to what some seem to think, spring does not arrive in early January with the snowdrops.

One snowdrop does not make a spring. Nor one daffodil, one chiffchaff or one cherry blossom.

One vernal equinox, however, does - the day on which the sun sits directly above the equator, causing day and night to be of equal length. This year it fell on Sunday at 2321 GMT, marking the arrival of spring for traditionalists like your humble correspondent. (Paper Monitor has always been a bit, well, some* might say, nesh.)

And with it comes photographs of spring-like things in the newspapers, such as the Guardian's big picture of hatless toddlers amid blossom trees.

Equally reliable - and traditional - signs of spring are the lurid banners for holiday tokens on the front pages of the tabloids.

"£3 SPRING HOLS FOR EVERY READER" shrieks the Daily Star, of its Pontins tokens. The devil is, as ever, in the small print on page 42 - it's £3pp "based on a minimum of four persons sharing a one-bedroom budget apartment.

"CAMPING FOR 95p" bellows the Daily Mirror ("per pitch, per night").

"MAGICAL FAMILY HOLIDAYS FROM JUST £20pp" barks the Daily Mail (that's for four in a caravan, and bed linen is extra).

And finally, regular readers of this column may like to know that Diana is on the front page of the Daily Express. Again. Although it's not Monday. And there's no mention of laser beams or mysterious white Fiats.

While not a sign of spring, this usage of Diana's photo can be taken as a sign of an approaching spring wedding. No prizes for guessing the couple in question.

(*The word "some", in this case, denotes Paper Monitor's close personal friend who hails from the northern reaches of this green and pleasant land. And who is no longer wearing a scarf.)

Your Letters

15:31 UK time, Monday, 21 March 2011

I had a feeling of deja vu when I read this story about fivers. The same issue was previously reported in 2007, 2008, 2009 - twice - and 2010 - twice.
Phil, Guisborough

"Bank of England confirms £5 note injection" - how do they get them in the syringe?
Paul Greggor, London

Today's famous first words feature brings irresistibly to mind the I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue game of the same name. The panellists are asked to imagine the first words well-known people might have uttered shortly after being born. Suggestions include Lloyd Grossman's "Who would live in a womb like this?" and David Frost's "Hello, good evening and talcum".
Helene Parry, S Wales expat to Brentford

In Life as a ghost tweeter I see that 50 Cent is referred to as "50". So, should I call him "Mr Cent"? Come to that, should I refer to "Mr Dogg"? What's the etiquette here?
Mark, Reading, UK

In Can philanthropy bail out the arts? you say that "Selling naming rights ... is philanthropy in action." I didn't realise that advertising came under "the love of humanity".
Andrew, Malvern, UK

In my linguistics tutorial on Wednesday, a guy behind me was expounding on the merits of the Magazine website, and I felt it would be a bit odd for someone he'd never met to turn around and agree enthusiastically. Could you please tell him that there exists someone on his course who agrees with the excellence of the Magazine? Thanks!
Rosie, Manchester

Paper Monitor

10:43 UK time, Monday, 21 March 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

From the images of disaster in Japan to the air strikes against Colonel Gaddafi and his troops in Libya, it's photographs that have been dominating the newspapers' front pages recently. Today is no exception. Words are kept to a minimum because the danger, horror and drama is best summed up in an image.

None more so than on the front page of the Times. It's not often that a snapper gets a front-page picture byline, but Jack Hill does today. It's no wonder when you look at the image.

The paper has a rare wrap-around front page, dominated by a photo of an air strike on Colonel Gaddafi's troops near Benghazi. It's a breathtakingly powerful shot. The fire, smoke and sparks are so intense it looks like a computer game, but this is real life.

A lone figure in the foreground of the shot, running away from the chaos, is a reminder of the human cost of the crisis - and the danger the photographer must have put himself in to get the picture.

The Daily Mail, Mirror and Sun also all lead with the same image of more air strikes, a huge billowing cloud of smoke and fire.

Above the image of a convoy of Gaddafi troops being bombed the Sun has the headline: "TOP GUNS..1 MAD DOG..0".

Sister paper, the News of the World, felt it was time for a pun and ran with "Blown to Brits" yesterday.

The Mirror's headline "ROAD TO HELL" sums it up in fairly straight fashion.

Popular Elsewhere

10:37 UK time, Monday, 21 March 2011

A look at the stories ranking highly on various news sites.

A popular article with Time readers uncovers a lucrative industry in matchmakers. A company called Selective Search charge a minimum of $20,000 (£12,330) to men to set them up on a date. It explains that the men were "hot" and socially well-adjusted.

"Basically, they were older guys, often divorced, who were serious about getting married and having kids and hated dating."

Proving popular in the Independent is a look at our attitude to dirt. It says, depending on your point of view, dirt can be a deadly foe, an unsavoury sight or a mark of authenticity. It goes on to argue that we live in an age of extreme cleanliness but our conflicted feelings about filth are "anything but neat and tidy".

English teacher Andy Selsberg explains in the New York Times' most e-mailed story why he makes his students write their essays on Twitter.

"I don't expect all my graduates to go on to Twitter-based careers, but learning how to write concisely, to express one key detail succinctly and eloquently, is an incredibly useful skill, and more in tune with most students' daily chatter, as well as the world's conversation."

One of Slate's most popular stories asks why no-one wants to be a lawyer anymore. It comes after news that applications for law school in the US are down by 11%. Explanations include economy recovering. When this happens, it argues, people tend to enter the labour market instead of studying. But the main reason put forward is increased publicity of the falling wages for people studying at law school who don't actually want to be lawyers.

The First Post's most read story pictures Berlin Zoo's baby leopard, introduced to the media last week. The north Chinese leopard called Nekama is photographed taking a few cautious steps. The leopard is an endangered species that normally lives alone.

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