NOTHING SO warms the heart as a good, old-fashioned circulation war, accompanied (as it nearly always is) by a deafening clash of journalistic egos. With this in mind, the key players in London's impending evening newspaper free-for-all are already beginning to hurl toys from their prams in the manner of spoiled schoolchildren.
A couple of weeks back, the Evening Standard's formidable editor, Veronica Wadley, took umbrage at an uncharitable article in Michael Heseltine's Campaign magazine, which claimed that her title faced a tricky future.
It was a childish and wholly refutable allegation, which naturally merited a riposte in the Standard's hatchet-room of choice. "Questions are being asked about the future of Claire Beale, editor of Campaign magazine," claimed the Londoner's Diary.
"The advertising industry weekly continues to lag behind its rival, Media Week. The last recorded ABC figures indicate that Beale's once influential publication may have gone off the boil. Beale, who has been editor since 2004, is a chum of Express proprietor Richard Desmond. Presumably, he can offer her work if it all goes pear-shaped."
Some might rise above such point-scoring. Beale, however, returned fire, with interest, using her column to criticise a recent Standard front page about cut-price flights from British Airways.
"It was an incredibly lame choice... unutterably bland. But it was also typical of the paper. The Evening Standard consistently fails to capitalise on its franchise... it deserves every blow in the ferocious attack that thelondonpaper will inevitably deliver."
So it goes that the ball has been firmly plonked into Ms Wadley's court. I trust she will now hit back with her customary vigour.
HEADLINES SUCH as "Poshed as a newt" and "Posh pie-eyed" greeted Victoria Beckham's dishevelled appearance outside a London night-club in the early hours of Wednesday morning. One red-top was playing a different tune, however. The Sun ran a flattering set of pictures under the headline: "Posh just ace in lace".
It can't have escaped the headline-writer's attention that two key member of Mrs Beckham's drinking entourage that night, who were handily air-brushed from pictures, were the Currant Bun's editor, Rebekah Wade, and her husband Ross Kemp.
Posh's bash ended at 4.45am, and I am delighted to report that Ms Wade arrived at her desk, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, at 4pm the following day.
STAYING WITH The Sun - and its sister title, the News of the World - now may be a convenient time to take a look at some recent back page "exclusives".
"Winker Ronaldo to be pulled from friendly at Oxford on police advice" read one. He played that night, at 7pm.
"Wayne Rooney NOT to be banned by FA," claimed another. But unfortunately, he WAS banned, at 2pm that very afternoon.
"Owen Hargreaves to sign for United TODAY," reckoned a third. No he didn't.
Manchester United, subject of all three reports, is Wade's team of choice. I trust she read with interest.
NEWS THAT The Guardian had poached Tim Brooks from IPC to be its managing editor will have delighted any principled feminists still employed by the left-leaning newspaper group.
Brooks, you will recall, was the man responsible for overseeing Loaded. He also launched Nuts, claiming that it would provide a mature and unsalacious alternative to Emap's Zoo. "They seem to be producing a lads' weekly, and that is not what we are doing at all," said Brooks. "This is not a weekly Loaded. Our belief is that the opportunity is broader than the one that Emap is targeting. They appear to be going for the 16- to 30-year-old male, and that is not what we are doing."
A couple of years on, and Brooks' nipple-free title has become Britain's biggest men's weekly on the back of tits, arses, and such groundbreaking features as: "Tasty babes who play together, drink together, and best of all shower together!".
MY TELEPHONE stands to attention. It's Brown Lloyd James, a swanky PR firm whom the Barclay Brothers have hired to spin on behalf of the Daily Telegraph.
In last week's report detailing Alan Hansen's magnificent pay deal (£110,000 for a ghosted weekly column, since you're asking) I claimed that the football pundit starred in the Telegraph's current advertising campaign.
Not so, says Mrs Brown Lloyd James. In fact, he appeared in their World Cup ad campaign, which finished a few weeks back. I stand corrected. It's comforting to know that - despite its recent round of redundancies - the Telegraph's management feels able to afford Hansen's six-figure salary, and the substantial fees Brown Lloyd James commands for setting these things to rights.
MEANWHILE, the nomadic media pundit Roy Greenslade uses a well-worn metaphor involving glasshouses and stones in relation to a recent run-in between this columnist and the Press Complaints Commission.
Some would argue that journalism is all about chucking pebbles from the insides of greenhouses, but I'll give Mr Greenslade the benefit of the doubt in holding hands up to a fair cop.
In the meantime we'll overlook the time that this esteemed lecturer in journalistic ethics spent as editor of the Daily Mirror, when he allowed proprietor Robert Maxwell to fix a spot-the-ball contest so that none of his loyal readers could win it.
Matthew Norman is awayReuse content