Media: The Word on the Street

IT IS hard to believe that the BBC thinks it would be sued for libel by Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger - after all, he's so often been on the receiving end himself - so why did it edit out the funniest moment from the What the Papers Say Awards on Friday? As Mr Rusbridger went up to receive the Scoop of the Year award for its Peter Mandelson home loan story, a loud Yorkshire harrumphing could be heard from the audience. The cameras even focused in on the harrumpher, Paul Routledge, sitting next to the ex-spin doctor, Charlie Whelan. But cut was his audible heckle as Rusbridger departed the stage with his heavy prize: "You ought to get six months for larceny," shouted Mr Routledge, showing that despite Mirror editor Piers Morgan's peace-making with Rusbridger, The Mirror's political commentator still believes the Mandelson story was whipped from his book.

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THERE IS no greater illustration of the media's ability to make much out of little than to compare the fuss about Routledge's book with the number of copies it has actually sold. According to Book Track, it managed 982 copies up to 20 February. It has had another 10 days since then, so it may have blazed a trail into four figures by now.

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NICE TO know that some newspaper headline writers remain as unreconstructed as ever. "Gordon Brown's former girlfriend fights for her life" was the Mail on Sunday's headline over its Sheena McDonald story. Ms McDonald has hosted Channel 4 News, Right to Reply, and The Week in Westminster, and is one of Britain's most respected political broadcasters. But being a woman, none of that is as important in defining her headline status as a relationship 20 years ago.

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