Media: The Word on the Street

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IS THERE a problem with the telephone system at The Guardian? Repeated calls from us to Guardian managing editor Brian Whittaker enquiring about his conversations with his Brussels correspondent and veteran Guardian journalist, Martin Walker, have gone unreturned. We simply wanted to enquire about reports that Walker had been locked in with Whittaker for a lengthy discussion on the disconcerting amount of money the Brussels office was costing. Surely The Guardian will want to unsheath the sword of truth, and come clean.

THE DEATH of JFK Jnr had all the British nationals getting journalists to Martha's Vineyard as soon as possible. The Express foreign desk realised that one extremely prominent member of its staff was already there. Just- married editor Rosie Boycott had chosen Martha's Vineyard for her honeymoon. The foreign desk gave a collective gulp and then interrupted their editor's romantic sojourn to ask for copy. Ms Boycott quite rightly told them she was otherwise engaged.

IF YOU think politicians don't give straight answers to the press over here, they are models of articulacy compared to George Bush Jnr's answer to the Washington Post's enquiry on whether he ever took cocaine. His reply, now on the Internet, goes: "I'm not going to talk about what I did years ago. This is a game where they float rumours, force a person to fight off a rumour; then they'll float another rumour. And I'm not going to participate. I saw what happened to my dad with rumours in Washington. I made mistakes. I've asked people to not let the rumours get in the way of the facts. I've told people I've learned from my mistakes - and I have. And I'm going to leave it at that." We'll take that as a "yes" then.

A FEW weeks ago The Editor's Wife in the shape of Sally Emerson, spouse of The Times editor Peter Stothard, defended the family honour by attacking in print the media commentator, Stephen Glover. It looked then as if it might start a trend. And so it has. The latest rebuttal comes from The Editor's Widow. And a feisty one it is too. After a piece in The Spectator about the late Mirror editor, Hugh Cudlipp, by Paul Johnson, Sir Hugh's widow, Jodi Cudlipp, has responded. She points out a number of inaccuracies, including Johnson's assertion that Sir Hugh only had "scarecrow obituaries". In fact, he had full-page and half-page obits in all major national broadsheets: Lady Cudlipp adds: "Paul should be so lucky when his time comes." That could be sooner than expected, if the pair chance to meet.

CHANNEL 4, deprived of a day's cricket broadcasting yesterday by England's early defeat, must be feeling ambivalent about the new slogan that heralds their first foray into Test match transmission. The slogan "Cricket Just Got Better" also framed the large screen at Lord's showing repeated action replays of England wickets falling in quick succession. There was some ribbing of C4 controller of sport, Mark Sharman, over this in the channel's private box at Lord's. "We never said England had got better," he shrugged.

GEORDIE GREIG will want to check on the numeracy of the staff he inherits when he takes over at the helm of Tatler. The latest issue, produced during the interregnum between Jane Procter and Greig, boasts on the cover a feature about "the top 250 guests of 1999." Inside, the contents page again plugs "the 250 most-invited party guests of the year." By the time one reaches the feature the figure has dropped to 200. How quickly one falls out of fashion these days.

LAST NIGHT's London Evening Standard takes The Independent to task on page 12 by questioning the validity of a poll we published that placed Simon Hughes ahead in the Liberal Democrats leadership contest. Independent readers "shouldn't read too much credence into the validity of the poll" snipes the Standard. By page 16 of last night's paper the Standard had undergone a change of heart. The headline announced: "Hughes ahead in Lib-Dem race." And the result of the poll was faithfully reported.

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