Matthew Norman: The apprentice's guide to finding a scoop – lift a line from Wikipedia


Sugar-coated warning

Sir Alan Sugar is distressed by what he regards as an attempt to invade his privacy. The Daily Mirror, for whom he has written over many years, is the source of this unwanted umbrage.

With The Apprentice poised to return, the Mirror planned to reveal that the show's boardroom is not, as filming is designed to suggest, in the swanky central London office building to which the candidates apparently go for their bollockings. It's mocked up in a west London studio. Possibly in an attempt to prevent another BBC conning-the-punters "scandal", the paper was cajoled into spiking it. It's a shame. The story would have been a shoo-in for Daily Mirror Exclusive of the Week, not least because this startling revelation already features in the show's Wikipedia entry.

All's Mel with the world

Another electrifying week for fans of Melanie Phillips's blog as the old girl set credulous minds at rest once more. "The evidence is now crystal clear to anyone with an unwashed brain," writes Mad Mel in the wake of the latest tranche of terrifying data and predictions, "that man-made global warming theory is sheer unadulterated bunkum".

The great thing here, apart from the relief, is that she's lost not an ounce of scientific self-belief. Weaker souls might have wavered after the debunking of the link between MMR and autism she championed. But MP cannot be turned around, and ploughs on like an oil tanker chundering across the oceans that will never – for all the scaremongering perpetrated by such traditional hotbeds of leftie conspiracy theorising as the Pentagon – rise a millimetre.

Tania's new high chair

If Mad Mel should ever find herself prey to self-doubt, perish the thought, she might seek help from the child-rearing expert whose Times byline was upgraded to Professor Tania Byron on her accession to the chair of Public Understanding of Science at Edge Hill University. Although it's important for columnists to use titles whenever possible, I would remind Tania that her professorship will never carry the lustre or gravitas of those chairs in journalism in which former editors park their bums. These are the Chippendales of our industry to her Parker Knoll, and she'd do well to remember it.

Barmy for Obama

The poor sub-editing that plagues Jon Gaunt (see below) spreads to the news pages of The Sun. One report last week became so jumbled on the journey from George Pascoe-Watson's computer to the printed page that it made him look deranged. "Barack Obama last night vowed to sign up to Gordon Brown's economic rescue plan – and urged others to follow," it began. "The US President declared he will back the PM's blueprint at next month's crunch G20 summit in London."

This, as George must have realised, was plain and simple cobblers. In urging other countries to adopt stimulus packages, Obama never mentioned Gordon by name or implication. In fact, as George will have read the day he wrote the piece, Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell admitted that no one in the US Treasury bothers to return Downing Street calls. Since the only other explanation (that he was parroting some childishly ludicrous No 10 line) is unthinkable, we can only blame it on the subs.

Subs clumsy footwork

As for what they're doing to Gaunty, it really is a disgrace. "Which party allowed teenage slappers," he asks rhetorically in blaming the Government for underclass single motherhood, "to see opening their trainer-clad feet as a passport to a council flat?" How can you open your feet? And if you're a teenage girl who can, do you keep your reproductive organs in the sole or the heel? But this is a question of opening not our feet, or even our legs, but our minds to a blatant plot by sub-editors at The Sun to make this majestic writing talent look an eighth wit. It has to stop.

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