The Times, March 28, 2018

Animals should always be referred to as ‘it’ unless there is a good reason to specify gender, for example a female protecting her young. In this case it is particularly silly to call the bird ‘he’ because male and female herons have identical plumage, so the casual observer could not possibly know if it was a male. The copy calls the heron ‘it’, so I suspect the caption was written by a different person – often a recipe for disaster. If caption and story are handled separately they must be cross-checked.

I have grave reservations about the story in any case – if you have ever seen a heron you will know it is the most timid of birds, unlikely to stand there while someone kills it. And how did he kill it? How did he get the duckling out? While we are at it, when did it happen? Where did it happen (North Wales is a big place)? Far too many unanswered questions for my liking.

As for the intro, the less said about that the better.





The Times, March 26, 2018

I would say 99.9 per cent of Times readers know that the spelling is Fanny Cradock, not Craddock. Presumably there is no one on the Times staff over the age of 12, but ‘it’s before my time’ is no excuse. Subs (and writers) have got to have a general knowledge extending before their own date of birth, and to get the name of a major figure of twentieth century popular culture wrong makes the paper look foolish. Moreover, readers will think ‘If they can’t get something as well-known as this right, can I trust anything else in the Times?’

I have to say that I think the expression ‘I thought I was for the pot’ is inappropriate these days. The anecdote would survive without it.


By Jonathan Amos BBC Science Correspondent

Europe’s most active volcano, Mount Etna, is sliding towards the sea.

Scientists have established that the whole edifice on the Italian island of Sicily is edging in the direction of the Mediterranean at a rate of 14mm per year.

BBC  News Online, March 24, 2018

An edifice is a building, usually a grand one, but always man-made, so you cannot apply it to a volcano. The best word I can think of to use here would be ‘formation’ but why not just call it a mountain? I don’t think the word ‘whole’ adds anything.


BBC Countryfile Magazine, September 2017

This made me laugh. ‘Moorish’ is the adjective taken from the North African people who ruled Spain in the Middle Ages; it usually relates to architecture. The word wanted here is ‘moreish’, meaning you would like to eat some more.


        i newspaper, March 20, 2018

(48 words) The first thing I wanted to know was what the books were called and who were the authors, so I looked up the Wellcome Book Prize website. There I found that the first book mentioned is not a novel, but a memoir, and a  newsworthy one at that.  It would be worth mentioning the value of the prize, too.

This is how I would do it:

Rausing memoir on
Wellcome shortlist

Mayhem, a memoir by Sigrid Rausing about her brother Hans Kristian’s drug addiction and the death of his wife Eva, is on the shortlist for the £30,000 Wellcome Book Prize, for works which engage with medicine, health or illness. The winner will be announced on April 30. (47 words)




Sunday Times, March 18, 2018

The idea of a headline is to convey the main point of the story, in this case that a footballer has been arrested on suspicion of drink driving. The car accident is incidental. And why are there quotes on ‘involved in car crash’? There is no doubt about what happened and it is not an allegation. Whoever was paid for this pathetic job was taking money under false pretences. This is the heading I would have done:

Gibson drink-drive arrest