BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor

Archives for November 6, 2011 - November 12, 2011

Your Letters

15:11 UK time, Friday, 11 November 2011

Concerning the airbrushed HMS Belfast story, does anyone else find the excuse "a simple mistake in the advertising production process" deeply offensive and disingenuous? "A simple mistake" might cover forgetting to include it in a painting, but let's remember that someone took a conscious decision to airbush it out of the photograph for some reason. Whether that reason is simple aesthetics or to exclude something that has military connections is for you to decide. I know what I suspect.
Martin, England

Dear Monitor, you may recall that last year I brought your attention to the story which made me queasy, the "doctor slices rugby player lip" story. I am now "delighted" to inform you that another story has made me queasier still.
Michael Hall, Croydon, UK

"Newcastle United and St James' Park are together like black and white, do you want me to cut my vein and show you?" I don't understand. That is all.
Phil, Oxford

Martin (Thursday's Letters), are you taking into account current and projected birth rates in your calculation? I'll get my uterus...
Rob Orme, Bangor, Gwynedd

Martin (Thursday's Letters), it would probably take longer than that: many of the seven billion will be infants and need to develop the fine motor skills and language skills (could take a while if English isn't their first language) needed to access the computer article. And then they might still have to wait for internet access, possibly their whole lives if they belong to the indigenous peoples of the Amazon or Borneo... I'll get my MAC
Ray, Turku, Finland

Martin (Thursday's Letters), we need to see your work in coming to that conclusion using, of course, monitorite methods of calculations (London buses, Wales etc)
Lynne, Lincoln

I disagree with Paul from Ipswich (Thursday's Letters)! The BBC will write this up as a row row row. I'll get my boat.
David Richerby, Liverpool, UK

Caption Competition

13:16 UK time, Friday, 11 November 2011


Winning entries in the Caption Competition.

The competition is now closed. Full rules can be seen here [PDF].

This week it was Lady Gaga receiving the award for Best Female from David Hasselhoff onstage at the MTV Europe Music Awards in Belfast.

Thanks to all who entered. The prize of a small amount of kudos to the following:

6. Fern Coolbra:
Then this farmer asked Rihanna to leave because she was scantily-dressed, and me to leave because I was scaring the cows.

5. MagnumCarter:
Mirror fogs over as Hasselhoff asks who is the fairest.

4. DougieLawson:
Nice to see that Kitt has been recycled into something wearable.

3. Rogueslr:
Following negotiations she will now be know as the Sports Direct Lady Gaga Arena.

2. ARoseByAnyOther:
This old thing? I got it from Princess Beatrice.

1. Robert Lindsay:
Can you smell rotting meat?

10 things we didn't know last week

11:43 UK time, Friday, 11 November 2011

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

1. Thierville in Normandy did not lose any service personnel in France's last five wars.
More details

2. Scottish remembrance poppies have four petals and no leaf, unlike the more common two petals and a single green leaf.
More details

3. A Browning machine gun can be made to fire after 70 years buried in a bog.
More details

4. Horses with distinctive black-and-white leopard-like markings roamed Europe 25,000 years ago.
More details

5. A devil's face has been hidden for centuries in a fresco by the Italian renaissance master Giotto.
More details

6. Occupy was the most commonly used word in print and on the internet in the past year, according to one study.
More details

7. Penguins enjoy mud spas. More details

8. British consulates cannot supply Phil Collins' phone number. More details

9. 11.11.11 is the day that most closely resembles corduroy.
More details

10. Locally produced pound notes are used as currency in Totnes, Devon, and Lewes, Sussex.
More details

Seen 10 things? Send us a picture to use next week.

Paper Monitor

11:35 UK time, Friday, 11 November 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Sometimes stories seem almost too good to be true. Paper Monitor's eye is drawn today to the tale of a man who called the police and prompted the scrambling of the bomb squad after spotting a device attached to the bottom of his car.

It's in the Telegraph and practically every other paper.

It turned out to be a GPS tracking device. And the culprit? Well, step forward this chap's wife. She had apparently become suspicious of her husband's behaviour and working hours.

The pictures on the story are from a news agency. Paper Monitor finds it curious that a couple who had had this sort of thing happen would speak to a local news agency and supply pictures.

The fact that the chap involved was on Dragon's Den two years ago and is currently in the security and anti-fraud field may further pique your interest.

Fortunately, it must be true because the police were involved.

Over to the Times, and there's an episode of salutary bravery.

The cartoon features Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy talking about there being "no grip at the top"and "knifing each other publicly". You know the punchline is not going to be anything about Greece? So maybe Fifa? Or X Factor?

Nope, the punchline in the four-panel cartoon is Merkel saying: "Well, I'm not bailing out News International."

That's the Times's parent company. Now, the Times has always been assiduous and thorough in its coverage of the whole hacking scandal, but it still takes a bit of guts to stretch that into taking the mickey in the form of a cartoon.


Your Letters

15:45 UK time, Thursday, 10 November 2011

Poignant and inspiring tribute to Oswestry's very own Wilfred Owen for the 21st Century.
John Waine @BBC_Magazine

"Alex Knibb defiant in headline wording row" (Wednesday's Letters). I think it has rather a ring to it.
Rob Mimpriss, Bangor, Wales

"Alex Knibb, Bristol, in use of 'row' row!" (Wednesday's Letters).
Paul , Ipswich

Alex, Bristol (Wednesday's Letters), funnily enough, I was just about to tell off the BBC for failing to find a dispute over Sir Jimmy's funeral that they could turn into a "Savile Row".
Edward Green, London, UK

Ed (Wednesday's Letters), I'm afraid that even if the 7 billion people article was getting 100 hits per second it would take well over 2 years for everyone on the planet to have clicked on the article.
Martin, Luxembourg

Popular Elsewhere

15:10 UK time, Thursday, 10 November 2011

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

"I should have known better" is the sentiment coming from the popular New York Times' cautionary tale about how a financial advisor lost his house. After all, the article says, Carl Richards gets paid to help people make smart financial choices. His story doesn't start well: "I answered an ad in 1995 that I thought was for a job related to 'security' (as in security guard) but was in fact related to 'securities.' That's how little I knew about the stock market." Whizz through a few more years, an estate agent with a gold jaguar, a 100% mortgage and a stock market crash later and you get to the part where Richards had to give up his home.

Ricky Gervais tries to get to the bottom of the difference between US and British humour in a popular Time article. His insight from his own sitcom, The Office, being translated into American seems to suggest Americans are just kinder. But, in an effort to justify his willingness to insult, he explains that he's just being honest. However, it seems that Gervais may be coming round to the American way:

"I'd rather a waiter say, 'Have a nice day' and not mean it, than ignore me and mean it."

As other most read lists are populated with speculation as to the reasons behind the departure of X Factor hopeful Frankie Cocozza, Independent readers are finding out about unimaginable rock star behaviour. The article says that Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi admits that "at the height of the band's hell raising days" Ozzy Osbourne decided to soak a hotel room with shark blood. According to the article it was because he was bored with drugs. This adds to the already known bad behaviour towards animals - biting off a bat's head on stage and doing the same to a dove in a meeting with record executives.

Vanity Fair readers are thinking about thinking. But be warned: it's a miserable game. That's if the life story of the "king of human error" is anything to go by. The article follows the Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman who has tried to get to the bottom of why people make bad decisions and hated every minute of it. If his life choice seems like a bad decision itself, it might be because he decided early on in his research he wouldn't study anything unless he first detected it in himself.

Paper Monitor

13:10 UK time, Thursday, 10 November 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's a bad day in the papers for sports administrators.

They never have the best time of it, admittedly. Whether it was Will Carling describing the RFU committee as "57 old farts" or Sepp Blatter being lambasted for suggesting female footballers should wear more "feminine clothes", players, fans and particularly the newspapers are less than sympathetic.

Today the big story is Fifa's partial backing down over England's desire to wear poppies embroidered on their shirts during Saturday's friendly with Spain.

For those who haven't been following this closely Fifa bans "political" symbols on kits and, among others, Prince William has pointed out that the poppy is not a political symbol.

Fifa have now decided they can allow the poppy, but only on the black armbands England players were going to wear anyway.

The Daily Mail carries a strip on its front, but the Sun splashes on it, as does the Daily Mirror.

In the Daily Telegraph, the celebrated Henry Winter writes a rather nuanced piece effectively suggesting Fifa have done the right thing.

Paper Monitor doesn't totally understand the outcome. If Fifa are still not allowing the poppy on the shirts, they must still be maintaining it is a political symbol. If it is allowed on black armbands then that must surely mean political symbols are now allowed, but only on armbands.

Anyway, that's not the only sports administrator story in town.

The papers are going big with the London 2012 advert that airbrushes out HMS Belfast from a shot of the Thames.

The 2012 people have put it down to "a simple mistake in the advertising production process". Paper Monitor obviously can't judge whether that's true or not, but it can say this: There is many a slip 'twixt Photoshop and lip.

The Sun headlines its yarn: "Scourge of the Nazis sunk... by Olympics idiot and Photoshop".

It would make a better story if it was all deliberate - done for reasons of political correctness - but it seems everybody is accepting it was accidental.

And Paper Monitor can only express disappointment that a Photoship-type pun was not attempted. The best the Sun could do was "Photoshock".

Your Letters

15:31 UK time, Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Thank you for your piece on the work of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed. I am ashamed to say I did not know of it, but I am now humbled by it.
Mark, Reading, UK

The "7 billion people and you: What's Your number?" article has been at the top of the most shared list for what seems like ages. Surely almost all 7 billion of us now know our number and it won't stay there much longer?
Ed Loach, Clacton, UK

I've mentioned many times about the BBC overusing "row" in their headlines. The latest "May 'won't resign' in border row" is particularly annoying. The story behind it isn't even an argument, unless your world is so buried in Westminster that you genuinely believe that the subsequent debate is more important than the thing that precipitated it. It's not hard to think up alternate phrases to use instead of "row". Look, I'll suggest one and you can go from there: "May 'won't resign' in colossal border cock-up". There. Now for the love of god, stop it with this "row" nonsense once and for all. Please.
Alex Knibb, Bristol, UK

Re: Comet electrical stores sold by Kesa for £2. How did they manage to avoid the extended warranty?
Behn, Torbaydos, UK

Apparently Italy's problems have "freaked out" the markets. Does the BBC employ a 1960s hippy as a financial journalist? Can we now expect China's economy to be described as "funky" and "rad to the max"?
Edward Green, London, UK

Popular Elsewhere

15:15 UK time, Wednesday, 9 November 2011

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

A popular World Crunch article translates La Stampa's exclusive interview with Silvio Berlusconi. Here's a tale of a man counting his blessings after resignation, only to be shot down again by his interviewer:

"Berlusconi closes by saying he is consoled by knowing that he was 'the longest-serving (Italian) Prime Minister in history.' But I interrupt to correct him, pointing out that Giovanni Giolitti had served longer back in the 19th century... He is quiet for a moment, then adds. 'This (record) of Giolitti, I didn't know about. That's a pity, really a pity. Well, good night.'"

Guardian readers are clicking on an article which asks why the exchange of friendly insults - banter- is such a fixture of modern life. While it seems to be becoming a compulsory part of male friendships, the paper asks if it just an excuse for bullying. Only last month a postman sacked for bullying cited "a lot of banter" at the sorting office. But despite these dangers, the article warns there's bad news for people who prefer a relaxed discourse over "shallow verbal sparring": if the seemingly unstoppable rise of panel shows is anything to go by banter is going nowhere.

Time headline


A popular Time Magazine article says two male African penguins in Toronto Zoo are being split up as part of a breeding programme. They have reportedly been inseparable, grooming and sleeping together. If the story of gay penguins feels familiar, that's because, as the magazine reminds us, in 2009, two male penguins at New York City's Central Park Zoo, Roy and Silo, incubated an egg together. They ended up raising the chick called Tango. The article says even a children's book - And Tango Makes Three - was written based on the story.

Reality TV is fairly inconsequential right? Not according to a popular Daily Beast article which argues the divorce of reality star Kim Kardashian is good for women. If that wasn't enough, it goes one further and says it is good for the whole of America. And the view comes from a bit of an expert on reality TV. Jennifer Pozner spent 10 years ( "yes, seriously, a decade" she ensures) - monitoring more than 1,000 hours of unscripted dating, marriage, makeover, competition, and lifestyle series. And even she's surprised herself that a reality star could herself have an effect outside the TV screen. But she insists that Kardashian's divorce after only 72 days exposes the fakeness of reality TV. "The disconnect between blissful on-air bride and off-screen divorcee offers viewers proof, once and for all, that reality-TV fairy tales are nothing more than a farce," she says.

Paper Monitor

14:10 UK time, Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

For some papers, page three means showing the reader more than others.

The Sun opts for its traditional topless photo. Today it's Danni from Coventry with her "news In briefs" apercus on the latest tribulations of Silvio Berlusconi:

The fate of Emperor Nero immediately sprang to mind"

But for rival tabloids who frown at breasts going in a family newspaper, there was another appendage ripe for page three exposure.

The Daily Mail opts instead for showing a bit of leg. "Cheekiest dress? It's a split decision", runs its headline alongside photographs of stars Elle Macpherson, Jennifer Lopez and Yasmin Le Bon all sporting "dramatic thigh-high splits" at award dos in New York and London.

The Daily Mirror agrees this array of long limbed female flesh is just what's required for its third page. "Thighs front: Brits or Yanks... whose legs win split decision?", the headline reads. After giving marks out of five to a trio of beauties from each side of the pond, the Mirror - shock, horror - hands victory to the Brits. Phew! The European economy may be on its last legs but at least our models know how to show off their pins.

The Daily Telegraph, never one to overlook a ravishing female photo-op, on this occasion defers to nobility. It gives over the top of page three to Prince Charles and Camilla's trip to Zanzibar, showing the game couple sipping from coconuts before getting down to the local grooves.

Metro opts for neither breasts, legs or Royals, but leeks and rhubarb. "The rhusual suspects", shouts the headline about a vegetable identity parade used to solve the case of stolen vegetables.

When newspapers all around seem to be losing their heads Paper Monitor reaches for the Financial Times. "Ministers press for pay road to unblock artery", runs its less than appetising page three lead.

From one extreme to another.

Your Letters

15:26 UK time, Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Re: Would an 80mph limit make pile-ups worse? It's people on your bumper flashing their lights and overtaking on the hard shoulder that cause trouble. Intimidation. Just drove through Germany and there are Autobahn stretches without speed limit, everyone drives fast and if they don't want to, they get out of the way. But adrenaline filled people exist everywhere and they are the ones who will kill themselves and others on the road, seen it happen and it's a haunting sight.
Eniko Kontesveller @BBC New Magazine

All drivers make mistakes, but doing it faster makes more dangerous mistakes.
Niall Matthews @BBC New Magazine

Regarding the whole issue of motorway speed limits, the most important thing to do isn't to raise the maximum speed limit but to raise the minimum one. Large differences in speed cause accidents when somebody takes evasive action when they suddenly realise they are catching the car in front a lot faster than they expected.
Andy Taylor, Southampton, UK

Many drivers fail to recognise, or are unwilling to accept, that what other people does influences what you do, or at least it should. Loud music, too much instrumentation, satnavs, dvds in the car all make it like a sitting room on wheels - drivers don't realise the risks they're running.
Chris Martin @BBC New Magazine

It says the safety adviser has been suspended while an investigation takes place. Will this be suspended underneath his ladder with his safety harness?
Mark, Southampton

Yes, we KNOW petrol and diesel cost a lot. So stop wasting it for photos!
Fee Lock, Hastings, East Sussex

Has the diver broken their toes? Or did Anthea Hamilton turn a reference picture of a ballet dancer upside down and think "that'll do" forgetting that divers are not pressing their feet against the ceiling?
Andrew Collier, Cambridge

Anon, Auckland, NZ (Monday's Letters), you may have said it - but I notice you weren't willing to put your name to it!
Jay, Port Macquarie, Oz

Anon (Monday's Letters), a recent rugby victory still going to your head is it?!
Ross, London

Popular Elsewhere

15:06 UK time, Tuesday, 8 November 2011

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

Here's a classic Daily Mail elf 'n' safety story with a twist. The popular article explains a video posted on YouTube showed a Gateshead worker's demonstration of how to use ladder safely. Only he fell off the ladder. As Paul Cavanagh demonstrates how a harness can hold you, he loses his footing and the ladder falls sidewards. An onlooker shouts "You should have put the side tethers on" a bit too late.

The statistics in Independent's popular look at the experiences of Muslim converts in the UK may surprise some. Three-quarters of Britons who become Muslims are female and the average age of conversion is 27. A study in Leicester also showed that "despite Western portraits of Islam casting it as oppressive to women", a quarter of female converts were attracted to the religion because of the status it affords them.

In many most read lists reviews of the computer game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 are popping up. The Times, giving the game five stars, calls it the "media launch of the year". That's ahead of any film or book. The Guardian also gives it five stars but predicts an "inevitable tabloid storm" over a terrorist attack scene set in London. USA today suggests there may have been conflict not just in the game but between the makers of it, but says that doesn't affect the product. And at the top of the Telegraph's most read list is their review which says calls the killing game slick and awards it five stars.

Paper Monitor

10:23 UK time, Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Several people are having what is technically known as a "bad day" in Tuesday's newspapers.

Home Secretary Theresa May finds herself on several front pages after confirming yesterday that she had authorised a "pilot" scheme in July to relax passport controls and then extended it in September. As a result illegal immigrants were able to enter the country. How many? She admitted she doesn't know - and never will.

"I''m sorry, I haven't a clue" is the Daily Telegraph's headline. While the Daily Mail thinks the story is such a disgrace the headline deserves ALL CAPITALS. It says her "blunder allowed 'danger migrants' to vanish".

The Times also has the story front page and it continues inside. It illustrates the piece with a picture of May addressing the Commons, with David Cameron sitting behind her with his hand clasped to his weary brow. An itch or a gesture of despair? It looks like the latter.

X Factor contestant Frankie Cocozza is also having a bit of a 'mare - as he might say. Seemingly short on talent but big on partying, he is now the subject of an Ofcom investigation. He is accused of swearing on television before the watershed and allegedly glamorising alcohol consumption.

He is allowing the papers to indulge in some nice alliteration. He's foul-mouth Frankie in the Mail, freakout Frankie in the Sun and funtime Frankie in the Mirror.

In his defence he says he is upset at being criticised by people on Twitter. He was also told rather frankly by X Factor judge Louis Walsh that he would never be a pop star after his poor performance on Saturday night's show. But there is still no sympathy for him in the papers.

As Mirror columnist Polly Hudson puts it:

Is anything worse than being told you'll never amount to anything by Louis Walsh?

Yet even after that she can't feel sorry for him. Oh dear. Taxi for Cocozza!

Your Letters

15:38 UK time, Monday, 7 November 2011

The lifestyle of a prodigy includes "an in-depth understanding of the plot of Dr Who", says BBC News Magazine. I'm a genius.
Benjamin Cook @BBC_magazine

Regarding TV stereotypes. You don't mention the ultimate TV father that a lot of people see themselves in - Homer Simpson. Through all the stuff he does he genuinely loves his wife and wants to be a good father, he just finds a way to show it in the most awkward way.
Matt, Hillingdon

TV stars 'assault' suspect held? Not TV 'stars' assault suspect held?
Steve, Bristol

Re: Is there life after Downton? Surely the real question is was there life during Downton Abbey.
Owen Roberts @BBC News Magazine

"Stephen Fry on Qantas flight grounded by engine issues". And that is news, is it? Any more luvvies on stalled transport to turn into headlines? Come on. You used to have news values, BBC.
Mark, Reading, UK

Basil (Friday's letters), the problem the organisers have is that they really can't emphasise the "diver" element of the picture, since to be in with a chance of winning a medal you rather have to have legs straight and tight together and toes pointed. The posture featured in the artwork is something more like my Auntie Mabel falling in the canal last summer. I got her life jacket.
Shiz, Cheshire, UK

I like the Olympic posters and the Olympic logo. There I've said it.
Anon, Auckland, NZ

Popular Elsewhere

15:23 UK time, Monday, 7 November 2011

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

A popular New York Times article hails the arrival of docu-soap The Only Way is Essex to the US, via online streaming stie Hulu. So how is the surprise hit described to a US audience - presumably unfamiliar with Essex stereotypes the characters play up to. Well it starts of with reporting the show has been "reviled in Britain as a pestilent example of depraved New World values and a leading indicator of the apocalypse".
The show isn't wholly alien to the US audience. That's because, the article explains, it engages in the "Theatre of Superficiality" first seen in The Hills and Jersey Shore. There is one difference though: "dropping any pretense that the action has been accidentally captured on camera". This, the New York Times concludes, makes it more real.

Johnny Depp smokes. But what he seems to do more than smoking is talk about smoking. In the most read Guardian story, while explaining in the interview - mostly about smoking - about why he started smoking again he inadvertently reveals a more glamorous aspect of his life. Half way through explaining to Decca Aitkenhead that he was trying to get director Bruce Robinson to give him a puff on his cigarette he let slip that the encounter happened on a plane. She must have looked confused as he explained "Well, it was a private plane. On a private plane you can smoke. It makes it an incredibly expensive habit, of course."

Filmmakers might be taking into consideration Forbes' calculations in their most popular article before they audition their actors. The magazine has worked out which stars bring in the least money compared to how much they get paid. Coming in at number one if Drew Barrymore. For Every $1 (62p) Barrymore is paid, her films return an average 40 cents (25p). That's quite something when you consider that the second most overpaid actor - Eddie Murphy - is attracting $2.70 (£1.68) for every $1 he is paid.

In 1975 there were three mega cities. Now, Slate's popular article says, there are 20 more. They are loosely defined as cities with over 10 million inhabitants. But the article explains that's where the clarity ends. Most arguments seem to be over whether or not they are a good thing. One the one hand they provide opportunities for poor people. But once they become richer, they start consuming more and putting more demands on the environment.

Paper Monitor

10:52 UK time, Monday, 7 November 2011

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Like millions of people around the nation, Paper Monitor wakes up to the harsh reality that it no longer has anything to amuse itself with on a Sunday night. Yes, Downton Abbey - with its kooky plots - is off air until next September.

In the Daily Mail Jan Moir lament's the demise of the second series, saying that for all its barminess, she still loved every melodramatic minute.

Downton Abbey, she writes, "seems to have existed on some weird space-time continuum between the bustle and The Beatles".

But in the Times the absence of the period drama simply means that Sunday nights are about to get better, according to the Thunderer column.

What a peculiar fantasy land we found ourselves in during Downton's second run... Wars, scandals and yet more rounds of Mary and Matthew's 'can't kiss won't kiss' go by. Yet no-one ages, except the dog. Perhaps in Downton Wonderland the plots run in dog years?"

But, while admitting that Sunday evening viewing requires a healthy dose of silliness, it says Downton was simply "cranked up too far".

For the Daily Telegraph, a "light has gone out from the Sunday night TV schedules".

But it sounds a more positive note, dangling the tantalising notion that with the death of Matthew Crawley's fiance the way has been paved for romance to bloom between him and Lady Mary.

The simmering 'will they, won't they' romance could even boil over during the next episode - a Christmas Day special."

Along with the rest of the nation, Paper Monitor will remove its black armband of mourning and rejoice.

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