MEDIAFREAK

THE BYTES THAT BITE

n Daring presenter in deep water

The guardians of GMTV's cheery, laid-back image must have been choking on their ham and eggs yesterday when they caught sight of the Daily Mail's Weekend section. The cover story was about one of the breakfast station's most familiar faces, Lorraine Kelly, who is evidently keen to shed her nice-wee-Scottish-lassie-next-door image. The unthinking man's piece of Dundee cake agreed to "loosen up" and reveal a little of her cleavage to kind of justify the "Cereal thriller" headline.

Although Melinda Messenger has nothing to worry about, Sue Brearley, GMTV's head of press and publicity, must have been hopping mad. For, when she got wind of the Mail's photo shoot a few weeks back, she went into orbit and insisted that her bosses block the proposed feature. Obviously they either refused - or failed - to do this. Whichever, Ms Brearley could not have been a happy bunny.

Lost voice of America

Chris Cramer, the ace news-gatherer poached from the BBC to de-Americanise CNN International, has been back in Europe in the past few days to publicise his plans for a truly global news network and to headhunt more staff. But he's been hampered on both offensives by a throat virus that has rendered him virtually voiceless.

Cramer - who was reduced to holding up cue cards during a recent strategy meetings at the CNN Centre in Atlanta - croaked his way through a session at the Monte Carlo TV festival, where he joked that "the shock of working for Ted Turner has made me lose my voice".

With the help of his doctor in the Deep South, and a Harley Street specialist, he's confident that he'll be soon be unhindered in his determined strategy to ensure that CNN cannot be mistaken for the Voice of America.

n Free to buy any paper we like

Rupert Murdoch's minions at Wapping didn't just boost The Sun's circulation when they teamed up with Camelot to give Britain's top-selling title away free on the morning of the first midweek Lottery. Sales of The Mirror shot up by 15.1 per cent, to more than 2.5 million, on Wednesday 5 February, as many Sun readers used the cash they'd saved to purchase the paper's arch tabloid rival.

The Mirror's circulation bosses are only disappointed that they didn't catch wind of the move until the previous evening, or they would have run off even more copies. Meanwhile, they must be quietly praying that Murdoch will one day go the whole hog and turn The Sun into a permanent freesheet.

n Fists out at the Press Awards

Acrimony erupted last week when a panel of high-ranking journos gathered to judge this year's British Press Awards. This is normally, believe it or not, a civilised affair, but the nitty-gritty of who should get the gongs soon became a slanging match when the tabloid boys complained bitterly about a pro-broadsheet bias. Their complaints subsided only a little when a senior writer from one of the "red-tops" got two top awards, largely thanks to broadsheet votes. To preserve the new detente between different sectors of the newspaper market - responsible, intelligent seekers of truth such as ourselves and despicable downmarket muckrakers - we asked our resident cartoonist, Colin Wheeler, to fantasise forward to the awards ceremony ...

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