Guy Adams' Media Diary

How to get yourself a scoop (not)

We begin with an object lesson in the art of tabloid scoop-getting, courtesy of the Daily Mail rain-maker Neil Sears. On 27 March, Sears was instructed to track down Farah Damji, a former magazine editor who - as we reported last week - had escaped from prison, where she was serving three and a half years for theft and deception.

Following an all-too-brief mobile phone conversation, he pinged an e-mail to her. "Good to speak to you at last, albeit briefly," it begins. "Let's do it at more length today for my news piece I'm already writing. Ideally we'd do an exclusive live picture of you at your hideout - it would mean my piece would have a great exclusive line, and would guarantee a good show in the paper ("Mail tracks down absconded prisoner"). If necessary, our photographer could be blindfolded and put in the boot of a car to get to you if you don't trust us to keep your location secret."

Sears neglected to sign off with hugs and kisses. All the same, Alan Partridge himself couldn't have managed a better turn of phrase.

Thus it was that Sears submitted a second e-mail to the elusive Damji. "I am gagging to hear about prisoners' rights and what it's really like for women in prison," he said. "Am particularly interested in the women in prison stuff, as you are after all a woman who's been in prison. You are the sort of woman who should not be in prison, but instead should be in position being aspired to by Mail readers. You're the perfect way in to stuff about women in prison for the Daily Mail. Let's just chat and you tell me what you want to tell me. I can't put words into your mouth and am offering you a wider platform than you got in The Independent and Times. A pic would really make the whole piece too... so please call me fast - Neil." Say what you like about his breathless pitch, you can't accuse Sears of not trying.

Sears's request for an exclusive interview was eventually successful. However, no sooner had he arrived at Damji's seaside hideout, than Her Majesty's police also appeared. The big interview has yet to be published. Meanwhile Damji believes - quite wrongly, I'm sure - that Sears "dobbed her in" to the cops. Either way, she's back behind bars.

* The same can, sadly, not be said of Rupert Murdoch, who neglected to make sure that the Sun's new political editor, George Pascoe-Watson, attended his annual shindig at Palm Beach. Others in P-W's position would feel at the thought of Trevor Kavanagh, the man he waited many years to replace, sipping cocktails at Rupert's luxury hotel.

Pascoe is a man of simple tastes, though. Earlier this year, he purchased a caravan to provide a weekend "love nest" to share with his girlfriend. Mischievous colleagues enrolled the happy couple in the Caravan Club of Great Britain. Sadly, they submitted Pascoe's application under the (possibly racist) pseudonym "George Pikey".

* From one Pascoe to another: Adam Pasco, editor of the BBC's Gardeners' World magazine, has taken a bold step: from now on, his magazine's masthead will carry the date it hits the newsagent's shelf. Green-fingered readers have been confused by the trend for giving glossies a cover date several months into the future. "It's all about seasons," says a colleague. "Articles about digging up potatoes should appear in a magazine that's dated to match the spud harvesting season. Otherwise, it's the equivalent of FHM having a bikini supplement in mid-December."

* At the risk of upsetting the delicate flowers that preside over both Telegraph titles, I am concerned by reports of a staffing crisis on the daily's gossip column, Spy. Louise Hannah, the column's star news-hound, has left for the choppy waters of The Mail on Sunday, after being headhunted by that title's gossip-in-residence, Katie Nicholl.

Celia Walden, the Spy editrice, intends to offer her position to a promising, pin-striped freelancer, Chris Lamb. But one cloud mars her horizon: Lamb's appointment is yet to be approved by the powers-that-be. Although this must be a formality, the delay is worrying. Without Lamb, Spy's staffing levels will fall to two. Before the Barclay regime took charge, the column boasted five, plus one part time reporter.

* Speaking of The Mail on Sunday, there is fascinating "background" to its recent kiss'n'tell with an ex-girlfriend of Noel Edmonds. The yarn was originally the property of The People. But when the bearded buffoon's former squeeze, Marjan Simmons, started demanding money, The People found its coffers empty. Its solution was to contact the MoS, offering to "go halves" on the story. There's a moral buried in this unlikely tale of co-operation somewhere, but I'm not sure what it is.

* Congratulations are to the London financial free-sheet City AM for revealing a shock takeover bid for the jewellery retailer Signet. It would have done the Financial Times no harm to have broken this little scoop. Failing that, it might have run a follow-up report. But coverage came there none. Some hacks on City AM suspect a policy at the Pink'un of ignoring its irritatingly successful rival. Others blame incompetence. Either way, it's one for FT editor Lionel Barber's in tray.

* In another newspaper last week, media sage Kim Fletcher looked into the issue of "freebies," in relation to journalistic ethics. "If I were writing a holiday piece, would the sands of Elba become more golden if I had come as a guest of a holiday company?"

A good question. But why did Fletcher need to canvass the opinions of his readers? His wife, Sarah Sands, recently enjoyed a Caribbean vacation courtesy of Virgin Holidays. Her report will no doubt inform readers about the golden hue of Jamaican beaches.

* Simon Heffer was spotted strolling around Lord's recently wearing his standard workplace uniform: a Garrick Club tie. I am sad to report that this constitutes a severe breach of clubland protocol. As a proud member of MCC, the Essex-born gingernut and Telegraph grandee should have been wearing that club's garish "bacon and egg" stripes. At the home of cricket, they take this sort of thing very seriously. "Heffer wouldn't commit this sort of faux pas if he'd actually been to public school," I'm told.

g.adams@independent.co.uk

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week