John Walsh's Media Diary: Giles rewarded with unjust desserts

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The Independent Online

Giles Coren, the fuming restaurant critic and TV food connoisseur, has a scary reputation for abusing fellow journalists. Not since the flyting contests of Julie Burchill and Camille Paglia have such blizzards of invective, such torrents of rhodomontade been seen in newsprint. Coren recently lambasted a fellow food hack for suggesting that he, Coren, received special treatment in a restaurant thanks to his fame ("Learn to write, and take your head out of your arse, you fucking twat," was Giles's considered riposte.) He then sent a vitriolic, 800-word memo to three Times sub-editors after one of them dropped the word "a" from one of his reviews. He is, frankly, a bitch about details. Coren was on blistering form last week, crucifying Polly Toynbee and David Walker for their new book, Unjust Rewards, in which the Guardian couple visit St John's College, Oxford with some black state school kids to explain to them, with infinite condescension, the inequality of life. It was accompanied by a colour picture of the college. I thought it seemed unfamiliar. The picture was of St John's, Cambridge. Uh-oh. Has the Times picture desk come out of hiding yet?

It may be a relative of Mr Coren at the Press Gazette who wrote intemperately some weeks ago about my colleague, Henry Deedes. On this page, the well-connected Henry reported rumours about the organ's future, and said its owners planned to turn it into a monthly from September. He also said no pieces had been commissioned beyond mid-August. In reply came some huffing and puffing ("complete bollocks") from the Gazette. But what's this I see on the front page of the current issue? "It's a new era! After 42 years as a weekly, Press Gazette goes monthly." Inside, the editors explain their priorities: they're adopting "a multiplatform approach where breaking news, blogs, discussion strands and all the other attributes of a website sit alongside a print partner which needs to take the time and have the space to develop, explain, comment and analyse the major themes of our profession." What a depressing sentence. Why don't they just call it Website Gazette?

Journalistic hero of the week is John Ray, the ITN China correspondent, who on Wednesday went to cover a Free Tibet protest near the main Olympic zone in Beijing. He was nabbed by five police, hauled to a nearby restaurant where they stole his shoes and stamped on his hands before bundling him into the back of a van. In the best journalistic tradition, Ray never ceased nagging, upbraiding and arguing with the police, poking his head out of the van window to remonstrate about the removal of his equipment, in tones reminiscent of a recently-mugged duchess demanding the return her jewels. So much for the Chinese authorities' promise of "free and unrestricted access" for reporters during the Games. But there's a silver lining for Mr Ray. His experience has been made into a computer game, One Tibet, One Dream by the Scots firm T-Enterprise, in which a cartoon Ray tries to plant Tibetan flags on Monkey Magic clouds. If he falls off the clouds, he gets chased along the ground by a Chinese tank. Check it out on But not if you're near Bird's Nest stadium, obviously.

I suppose when your home-grown athlete wins more gold medals than anyone in Olympic history, you naturally grasp for superlatives, but I mean really. When Michael Phelps won his fourth gold, his home-town newspaper, the Baltimore Sun, looked for the word to describe the 23-year-old swimmer. The best Olympian of all time? Nah. The finest Olympian of all time? Too dull. No wait: He's "the winningest Olympian of all time." Well done, chaps.

philanthropists who feel over-familiar with charity advertisements might be surprised by the approach adopted by Ctrl.Alt.Shift, the new interactive "campaign website" for kids, dreamt up by Christian Aid. Their commercials are, shall we say, unusual. One begins, chattily, "If your mum's a loser, your morals are lacking and you look like the back-end of a bus, your family is going to be non-the richer [sic] when your future husband comes knocking..." Having established the importance of a proper education for girls in Kenya, the advert then asks young British girls personal questions, to establish how much they might be worth in terms of cows, sheep, beer and honey. "Do you have morals?" is one question, followed by "[In] looks, are you more a Judy, Jordan or Jemima?" and lastly, "Is your mum filth or a milf?" For those new to school slang, a "milf" is a "Mother I'd Like to Fuck". Is Christian Aid entirely cool about its yoof marketing wing asking teenage girls about their mothers' sexual desirability?

two intriguing signings. Barbara Broccoli, recently ranked 36th in a list of "the 100 most powerful people in British culture," and the co-producer of eight James Bond movies after virtually inheriting the franchise from her father, Cubby, is joining the UK Film Council at the behest of the Culture minister, Margaret Hodge. But how will even she breathe life into a cottage industry that can inflict Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging on the world? And Jose Mourinho, the blue-chinned, Armani-coated Portuguese super-manager, now at Inter Milan, has been signed to write columns for the Daily and Sunday Telegraph. Readers can expect urbane sniping by their new star at the likes of Rafa Benitez and Alex Ferguson. But the real battle will be between Mr Mourinho and Simon Heffer. Surely the sainted Mr Heffer isn't going to let someone else go around calling himself "The Chosen One"?