2018 British Journalism Awards shortlist revealed: ‘This is what Dame Cairncross needs to protect’

Press Gazette is proud to announce the finalists for the 2018 British Journalism Awards for public interest journalism.

Chairman of judges, Press Gazette editor-in-chief Dominic Ponsford, said:

“As the Cairncross Review continues its work examining the sustainability of high-quality journalism in the UK, the work on display here provides ample evidence of the tremendous good which our industry does. And it shows the vital importance of finding a sustainable future for robust probing journalism which holds power to account in the digital age. This is what Dame Cairncross needs to protect.”

Extracts from Press Gazette on its journalism awards, October 2018

Press Gazette is the trade publication for journalists. I suppose that since standards of journalism have slipped so disastrously over the last ten or 20 years it is only fitting that the editor-in-chief of Press Gazette should display his own ignorance. When a woman is appointed Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) she is addressed or identified as ‘Dame Firstname’, not ‘Dame Surname’, in the same way as a man who has been knighted. Thus this reference should be ‘Dame Frances’, not ‘Dame Cairncross’.


The Times, October 18, 2018

A strong contender for Worst Headline of the Year Award. How often do police not use cars in a raid? When they ride bicycles? Go on horseback? Perhaps tanks? In the old days this would be thrown back at the sub with some abuse. My attempt would be

The Climbing Squad

As for the copy, anyone who does not realise  that he or she has repeated ‘force’ within nine words really should not be in the job.



Mail Online, September 30, 2018

This was sent to me by a Birkenhead native, outraged that his home town is now considered to be in Liverpool. The two places are on opposite sides of the Mersey, so this is like saying that Grimsby is part of Hull, or that Portsmouth is on the Isle of Wight.

I imagine the error arose because the sub saw ‘Merseyside’ and ignorantly equated that with Liverpool. Personally I would not consider it necessary to add ‘Merseyside’ to Birkenhead. The rule of thumb used to be that if a town had a football team you did not need to give the county. Birkenhead has a football team but it is called Tranmere Rovers, and it is obviously asking far too much for a Mail Online sub to know that.


The Times, September 29, 2018

I can’t believe that no one said ‘Well, how long has she been Prime Minister, then?’ As ever, it took me 10 seconds to find the answer, which yesterday was two years, 77 days. There really is no point to the item without that, is there?


i newspaper, September 26, 2018

I was pleasantly surprised to see ‘Antony’ correctly spelled in this headline but just to check I looked at the caption:

and I was not let down. There is some cretin at the i newspaper who not only does not know how to spell Shakespeare’s Antony (perhaps Shakespeare comes into the category ‘It’s before my time so how should I be expected to know?’ which seems to be the covering excuse for ignorance these days) but cannot even copy the name. And if we are to believe the editor (see #450), he or his deputy reads every word in the paper, as do a whole bunch of other titles. If this is the case they all need sacking.


The Times, September 26, 2018

Here is a good example of a dead hand at work. The intro should have been

A whale which swam up the Thames will be left alone in the hope that it will find its own way home.

To me, that has a certain rhythm and elegance. Instead, it is made clunky with the unnecessary information  that it is a beluga whale and that it comes from the Arctic, both which are repeated in the second par (and ‘beluga’ is in the headline for good measure). You really do not need to add ‘experts said yesterday’, or to repeat ‘yesterday’ in the second par.

If you say ‘a whale which’ instead of ‘that’ (actually grammatically better) it saves repetition with ‘in the hope that’.

In the third par, is it necessary to say ‘a spokeswoman for’? Surely ‘Julia Cable of the British Marine Divers . . .’ would be sufficient?

It is my opinion that subs are born, not made, and the person who found this an acceptable piece of work will never make a sub.






i newspaper, September 24, 2018

Do read these pious words from the editor of the i newspaper, a person named Oliver Duff. If he has read this, in the same day’s paper:

he should be ashamed. It is not the first time I have seen this error but I still find it hard to believe that someone who calls him or herself a journalist, and presumably accepts payment, can be so pig-ignorant. This includes Mr Duff and/or his deputy, and his writer and his specialist desk editors, whatever they do, his sub-editors and his revise sub.  The word for tightly stretched is ‘taut’. ‘Taught’ is the past tense of ‘teach’.


The Times, September 24, 2018

An apothecary is or was a person, not a shop. This is like saying ‘a reproduction of a 19th century pharmacist’. There doesn’t seem to have been a word equivalent to ‘pharmacy’ so you would have to say ‘apothecary’s shop’.