The Feral Beast: No more Google for Murdoch staff

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The Independent Online

Rupert Murdoch is so bent on blocking Google's world domination he has stopped his own staff using it.

Sunday Times journos moving into new offices last week found their computer home pages set to Bing, a little-known new search engine that has received backing from one R Murdoch. But his hacks aren't convinced. "None of us knows how to use it," moans one, "so we all had to waste our first day resetting our home pages to Google."

Baby joy for Desmond

Happy news for Richard Desmond: I gather he's having a baby. His lively new girlfriend Joy is expecting a birth in late February. Earlier this year, Desmond said he had so much money it was "ridiculous". The 58-year-old Express and Star proprietor already has an heir to his fortune by his first wife, Janet, but now he has a spare. How royal!

Review copies

The books pages of The Sunday Times have got creative with their cost-cutting. Instead of paying critics to review paperbacks, they simply regurgitate reviews of the original hardback. "We've always done it and everyone knows about it," sniffs literary editor Andrew Holgate. Author Duncan Fallowell was astonished to read a review of Andy Warhol's diaries under his byline, which he had no recollection of writing. "But apparently I did," he laughs, "20 years ago!"

The naked truth?

Why was Times political editor Sam Coates bouncing around the House of Commons with a glass of red wine on Wednesday? Unfortunately he bumped into David Wooding, head of the News of the World politics team, whose shirt came off worse. Quick as a flash, Wooding was topless and washing his shirt in the loo. Rumours he then spent the day typing in the buff are not true, he reassures me.

Thundering behind the paywall

The Times was less bumptious than usual at last week's Colman Getty quiz in aid of the writers' charity PEN. Last year, they put some noses out of joint by running away with the prize, thanks to the help of Olav Bjortomt: he sets the T2 quiz, but also happens to be an international quiz champ. This year, master of ceremonies David Baddiel asked teams to cheer themselves as he introduced them, but The Times could only manage a mumbled simper. "That's the sound of The Times team cheering from behind a paywall," he quipped.

Izzy wizzy, kith and kinny?

Oliver Snoddy addressed journalism students at Coventry University's "Face the future" conference, a joint venture with the BBC that stressed the importance of keeping abreast of izzy-wizzy new media developments. The 29-year-old digigeek doled out tips on breaking into the profession, but failed to mention the role of good genes. Snoddy is the son of Raymond, high priest of media commentary who earns the odd shilling from...the BBC.