The Feral Beast: Wolfman remembers his birthday

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Tabloid hack Neil Wallis, known as Wolfman for his former beardy look, has suddenly pulled out of a debate on "false news", a Media Society discussion about how the media can be duped.

Wallis, ex-editor of The People and former No 2 on the News of the World, claims it clashes with his 60th birthday. Organisers have had to scramble to find a replacement, but have been left scratching their heads at his last-minute decision. Surely he knew about his birthday when he agreed to take part several weeks ago? The fact that he learned he was to be debating against Chris Atkins, maker of a documentary showing false stories being bought by The People and NoTW is, of course, irrelevant.

Pitfalls of parody

The Guardian's noble effort to encourage student journalism – its annual awards ceremony – is upon us again. But the Digital Journalist of the Year shortlist has two surprises. One is Josh Halliday, a bright young thing who, um, happens to now work for The Guardian. The other is Mimi Kempton-Smith, author of the Belle dü l'Oxford blog. The thing is, she doesn't actually exist: the blog is a parody of all those dreadful student lifestyle columns. Has anyone at The Graun twigged?

Chasing 'The Sun'

Coronation Street actor William Roache dedicates a chapter of his new memoir to his infamous libel case against The Sun: he sued after it said he was as boring as Ken Barlow, the part he played. After turning down an out-of-court settlement of £50,000, he eventually won, but the costs led him to go bankrupt. So one wonders what could have induced Roache to sell the serialisation rights to the News of the World, sister paper of...The Sun.

It's the way you tell 'em

The Financial Times relaunched its weekend magazine yesterday with a searing interview of David Cameron by telly historian Simon Schama. When the heavyweight academic joined the FT last year he was feted by editor Lionel Barber as "one of the most elegant and versatile writers in the English language, a master-historian who can turn his talents to the arts, popular culture and bonne cuisine". But is Schama's prose just a little bit too elegant for its own good? Close analysis reveals the interview is, how shall we put it, somewhat scoop-free.

Soi-disant expert

Con Coughlin has heaped praise on his Daily Telegraph colleague Thomas Harding for his "brilliant scoop" after he landed a leaked version of Liam Fox's letter to the Prime Minister on defence cuts. Poor old Coughlin hasn't always been so lucky with his scoops: a sensational story he once wrote about one of Col Gaddafi's sons ended up in court, and it later emerged he had been fed inaccurate information by an MI6 source. Still, Coughlin's confidence has happily never wavered: on the Telegraph website, he describes himself as a "world-renowned expert on the Middle East and Islamic terrorism".

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