i newspaper, February 25, 2017

Why are there quotes on the word ‘smuggled’? Is there a fear that the tortoises will sue? Or the smugglers? Quotes are often used to indicate that something is an allegation but beware: this may not give legal protection. I don’t often suggest leaving out facts, but in this short I would be tempted to delete the dates because they raise the questions of where the tortoises were for three years after being seized in Hong Kong, and why it has taken the zoo five years to put them on show. Plus, what happened to the other nine? Stories should never leave unanswered questions.


Sunday Times, February 26, 2017

Since when has height been correlated with intelligence? Are short people normally thick? The Sunday Times liked this novel idea so much that it was pulled out for a display quote. A sub must consider not only grammar, spelling and punctuation, but also whether the words make sense or if, as here, they are pure drivel.


i newspaper, February 25, 2017 Page 2 (59 words)

This is truly pathetic. There is room for only three sentences, yet the third is almost identical to the first. Here is the main story on Page 9:

Admittedly it’s pretty thin, but there is enough to make three different sentences in the write-off. (Nice headline, by the way.) This is how I would have done it:

Being able to see birds from your window can have a positive effect on mental health, say researchers. Studies in Milton Keynes, Luton and Bedford found that lower levels of stress, anxiety and depression were associated with seeing more birds, as well as trees and shrubs. Common species glimpsed included blackbirds, robins, bluetits and crows. (55 words, and not one ‘people’)






You have a good story about Sir David Attenborough doing a new nature series at the age of 90. Do you:

Times, February 20, 2017

(a) Try to dress it up with a baffling intro and throw in some anthropomorphism, or . . .

i newspaper, February 20, 2017

(b) do a straight intro which readers will understand at once and make them want to find out more?

It’s no contest, is it?



i newspaper, February 18, 2017

Birds do not give birth. They lay eggs, which hatch. It would be better to say ‘Wisdom, the world’s oldest known seabird, has become a mother again in her seventh decade.’ I would lose the line about being the oldest breeding bird in the wild to avoid repetition. Anyway, how can this be stated as fact? In the third par from the end, I would say ‘albatrosses’ rather than ‘albatross’. And in the last par, is it really necessary to point out that an albatross is large?

PS The caption curse strikes again:


The Times, February 16, 2017

I don’t think there is any shame in not knowing when the Eurovision Song Contest is due to be held. From this piece it could be next week or December, and it makes a difference to how much time there is left to get it organised, and therefore the chances of cancellation. (Actually I have looked it up, and it’s May, but readers should not have to do this.) It would also be useful to know how many, if any, of the committee are left for the same reason.