The Times Special Edition

All these clippings are from The Times, June 21, 2017.

This is a ridiculous intro. There is no need to try to dress up a perfectly good story. I would do this:

A pensioner who says he hates cats because they kill birds and wildlife has been jailed for 12 weeks after shooting a neighbour’s Siamese.

‘A private decision’? What’s the alternative, ‘after a public vote’? Even if the agent makes a fatuous statement like this, there is no need to treat it as holy writ and put it in the intro. I would do this:

Sir Daniel Day-Lewis, the winner of three Oscars, has announced his retirement from acting at the age of 60.

The least a sub should do is to get the same age in the copy and the headline. And Wilbur Smith is so well known that he should be named in the heading, not reduced to ‘Writer’. You could do this:

£10m deal
for Wilbur
Smith, 84

though ideally it is better not to split a name between two lines. However the content is more important than the rules.


Why is the quokka described as the world’s happiest animal? You won’t find out from this piece, but it turns out to be a combination of its friendliness and its apparent smile. It would be worth mentioning in the context of this story that it is endangered, being down to a few thousand individuals. The highlighted paragraph makes no sense. This is a case for applying the rule ‘If in doubt, leave it out’.

Another tedious intro. How about

Rock star Brian May, who has fought high-profile campaigns against foxhunting and culling badgers, has a new target.

The 69-year-old Queen guitarist claims British Airways has ruined the view from its first class seats.

I think this clearer format is better at highlighting the serious nature of May’s complaint.

I had no idea what this intro was about but I was directed by a younger person to a website called TV Tropes (‘the all-devouring pop-culture Wiki’) on which the following appears:
“Dudes! If the tent is a-rockin’ don’t come a-knockin’!”
Charlie to Sam and Dean, Supernatural
I think it is safe to say that dudes who are in tune with this are on the whole not going to be Times readers, and try as I may I cannot see the connection with suitcases on wheels. This is pointless showing off.



The Times, June 17, 2017

Principle is a noun meaning concept, morality or belief, for example ‘her guiding principle is that the chief sub is always right’. The word needed here is principal, an adjective meaning  ‘chief’ or ‘main’.


i newspaper, June 12, 2017

First par: There should be commas each side of Damian Green.

Second par: ‘Formally’ means ‘officially’. The word needed here is ‘formerly’, meaning ‘previously’.

Third par: I would cap Prime Minister’s Questions, in line with other ministerial titles in the story.

Last par: Three roles in one paragraph is two too many. It is inconsistent to have both ‘Cabinet’ and ‘cabinet’. I would do it as follows:

The role of First Secretary of State, previously held by George Osborne, was not in Mrs May’s first Cabinet formed last July. It is senior to other Cabinet ministers and is often seen as equivalent to Deputy Prime Minister.


Sunday Times, June 11, 2017

Re the sub-deck: I don’t think you can ask a question without having a question mark, but it would look awkward in this construction. There are two ways of dealing with this. First, there is no law which says the writer’s name must be at the end, so you could put:

With the rise of delivery services, Katrina Burroughs asks: Have fitted cabinets had their day?

Or you could remove the need for a question mark:

With the rise of delivery services, fitted cabinets may have had their day, says Katrina Burroughs


BBC Scotland’s Kheredine Idessane reports from the French Open in Paris where world number one Andy Murray is putting in some practise ahead of his last-eight tie against Japan’s Kei Nishikori.

BBC Sport website, June 6, 2017

‘Practise’ is the verb, eg ‘he practised his forehand’. This is the noun, which is ‘practice’.


i newspaper, June 6, 2017

(55 words) This is typical of the lazy and incurious subbing which is so prevalent now. How could you let this through without asking where the pigs come from? Looking them up on the internet reveals that this short is lifted direct from the Bristol Zoo press release, but it has been cut to remove the fact that they are native to the Philippines. I would take issue with saying these piglets are endangered, unless it is likely that the keepers will turn on them. It is the species which is endangered, and it is not just rare but almost extinct. Why say ‘a British zoo’ then ‘Bristol Zoo’ when words are so limited? If you are not using a picture, it is pointless to discuss why they are striped. What does it matter where they spent the day? It is scarcely a surprise that they stayed close to their mother. There should not be a comma after the name Sarah Gedman.

This is how I would do it:

The population of the critically endangered Visayan warty pig has increased by four with the arrival of a litter at Bristol Zoo. The species is native to two small islands in the Philippines, and is close to extinction due to habitat loss and hunting. This is the second litter for the zoo’s sow Polly. (53 words)


i newspaper, June 6, 2017

(41 words) Instead of wasting precious words saying three times that Helen Dunmore has died, how about including some of her works? You don’t need to say she is British – that is taken as read, but it’s interesting to say whereabouts she came from. It doesn’t matter who announced the death, and the quote from the publishing house is pointless – the news would be if they were not saddened. Her age should not be left to the end.

This is how I would do it:

Poet and novelist Helen Dunmore has died of cancer at the age of 64. The Yorkshire-born writer won the inaugural Orange Prize in 1994 with A Spell of Winter. Her last book, Birdcage Walk, was published earlier this year. (40 words)