Media: The Word on the Street

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The Independent Culture
IT WILL be interesting to see how the Folkestone Herald writes about the disturbances in Dover over the weekend between refugees and local youths. This, you will remember, is the newspaper that was questioned by the police about its scurrilous reporting of stories about asylum-seekers on the south coast.

When last we heard, the paper had used a library photograph of riot police on its front page to accompany a story about some arrests being made at a house where refugees lived. A local law firm, which acts for many asylum- seekers, complained to the Press Complaints Commission and the newspaper has now been found to be in breach of the PCC code for "publishing the photograph prominently with no corrective caption".

Sarah Harman, the senior partner at the law firm which complained, said she had long been concerned "at the attitude of some of the local media who have printed several misleading and prejudicial articles calculated to create antagonism between the local population and the asylum-seekers". The weekend's disturbances seem to bear out her concerns.

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SOMEONE AT The Guardian's features department must have a sense of humour. Otherwise why have Victoria Coren write about how terribly trendy it is at the moment to get married? Ms Coren is, you will remember, the woman who was referred to as "The Trollop" throughout Fiona Duff's account in the Daily Mail of the end of her marriage to the television producer Harry Thompson. Still, Ms Coren was able to write from knowledge when she said: "We all know that marriage ends in misery, trauma and divorce."

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EVEN TRENDIER than getting married is trying to come up with an Internet business that you can float before the bubble bursts. At least five female journalists, magazine groups or newspapers - to the media diary's knowledge - have plans for a women's portal. Telegraph fashion journalists Susannah Constantine and Trinny Woodall seem to have got in first by launching Ready2shop.com, an advice and shopping site for ladies who lunch. They rather blow it, however, by promoting themselves as "It" girls.

This is a term which is not only very passe, but one unlikely to inspire confidence in those future investors from the Nasdaq and the AIM exchanges who are currently every hack's dream.

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AS THE lads' mag market stutters in the UK, it goes from strength to strength in the US. FHM and Loaded have taken a sales hit here from all the new magazines chasing young men, so their owners, Emap and IPC, must be kicking themselves that they didn't export the formula earlier. Maxim, which was the Johnny-come-lately in the UK, has just announced a 139 per cent sale increase in the US - taking it to 1.1 million copies a month. The magazine is selling nearly double the number of copies it has been guaranteeing to advertisers and is planning a 60 per cent increase in the number of advertising pages it carries. FHM won't get there until next year, and Loaded seems to be concentrating on Australia at present. Maxim USA's only problem is that it has lost money by underestimating its sales growth by so many copies. A problem that FHM and Loaded would presumably like to have.

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