Media: The Word on the Street

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The Independent Culture
A WEEK is a long time where Observer militancy is concerned. Only a week ago a spokesman for The Observer union chapel told Press Gazette of anger at the disparity between pay rises being offered to Observer and Guardian staff. The chapel spokesman fumed: "It is not right for the company to offer more money to Guardian journalists than their Observer colleagues. A traditionally moderate chapel is now saying `enough is enough'." However, that same chapel has now accepted a pounds 975 flat rate rise, which for many staff will mean less cash than they would have got under the 3.5 per cent rise being offered at The Guardian. What could have won them over?

It seems it was a message from Observer editor Roger Alton saying he'd been told that a strike could concentrate minds at The Guardian on The Observer's circulation problems. But surely The Guardian, that upholder of liberal and trade union principles, would not resort to such backdoor threats. It's most strange.

WHO WAS that strange looking man in a trench coat and blue sailor's cap having lunch with Charles Moore? Or to put it another way, who was that strange looking man in a pin-stripe suit having lunch with Sir Bob Geldof?

The two unlikely soulmates hit it off well apparently, so it will be interesting to see whether The Daily Telegraph now champions the campaign Geldof is helping to spearhead to write off the debts of Third World countries - and whether Mr Moore builds up a Boomtown Rats collection.

RADIO 5 Live's Sunday morning magazine programme Broadcasting House with former Labour Party spin doctor Charlie Whelan makes great play of going through the papers and giving the listener inside info. Last Sunday one of the guests was Tory MP and William Hague aide Sebastian Coe who volunteered that his leader's spin doctor, Amanda Platell, used to be editor of The Express (it was The Express on Sunday). He later mentioned Rosie Boycott, but before he had a chance to get her job wrong, the presenter jumped in to say (reversing the facts) that she was with The Express but had moved to The Independent. Mr Whelan sat silently throughout.Good to see that politicians, spin doctors and the BBC have their fingers on the pulse.

METRO, THE London free paper given away on the underground, prides itself on being the most informative organ on all matters underground. Last year it combined with the "tube" to produce a whole page showing how a new computer program would help travellers choose the shortest journey. It picked a journey from West Hampstead to the Ritz Hotel. The nearest station, according to Metro and London Underground's computer, is St James's Park. Except, actually it's Green Park, by over half a mile.

Perhaps they'll join forces with Radio 5 Live next to be really on the ball.

CHANNEL 4 goes resolutely its own way, appealing to an independent-minded audience. And it considers itself above the scheduling wars between ITV and BBC. So it's just one of life's coincidences that it is scheduling a double episode of Friends to clash with BBC2's new drama series Hippies this coming Friday.