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Journalism

by Arthur Christiansen: The Express Way

Arthur Christiansen became editor of the Daily Express in October, 1933,, a position he held for 24 years until 1957. During his editorship, sales peaked at two million Your ALT-Text here in 1936, over three million in 1944, and four million in 1949. Each day he wrote a bulletin. It was compulsory reading for members of editorial staff. He also expected them to read the Daily Express from start to finish daily and in addition, one other newspaper. Heads of department were expected to be familiar with the content of all morning newspapers by the time of first conference (around 11am). Since Christiansen went, there have been 17 editors.

Selections from the bulletins -

Now here is a perfect Express intro :

Mr. Roland Beaumont was sitting beside the fire last night, recovering from flu, when he heard a radio announcement that he had been awarded the Britannia Trophy for the best air performance of 1952." (January 30, 1953)

(Note: In fact, it is not a perfect intro, as I pointed out on my first day at the Express - Roly Beamont spelled his name without the 'u'. There was nothing clever about my knowledge: we were members of the same aero club.)

Good stories flow like honey. Bad stories stick in the craw. What is a bad story? It is a story that cannot be absorbed on the first time of reading. It is a story that leaves questions unanswered. It is a story that has to be read two or three times before it can be comprehended. And a good story can be turned into a bad story by just one obscure sentence. (April 29, 1953)

I was glad to see the interview with the Foreign Office being conducted by the Q. and A. system. This formula is not only factually helpful but typographically attractive. (January 6. 1953)

Ban the word "exclusive" in the Express. Our aim is to make everything exclusive. Therefore we have no need to boast. (January 27, 1953)

We must always assume that the bulk of our readers " go shopping " for their news and do not read every word as thoroughly as journalists are expected to. In theory every story should re-cap on the previous day. It is difficult but the effort ought to be made. (December 1, 1952)

A story starts "Remember the story. .." The word" story " should not be used because it is a journalistic phrase. "Remember the news" is correct. Our readers do not talk about stories but "articles" or "pieces" in the paper. (October 24, 1952)

I see on Page 5 that the Acton Council decided last night not to allow its tenants to "purchase " their homes. Why not the shorter word, "buy "? There were a lot of good rules of this sort introduced by RDB (Blumenfeld, a former editor) and some of them should survive. Example: Never use 'commence,' always 'begin.' In other words, avoid words of Latin or French derivation and try to find the Anglo-Saxon word which does the job. (October 22, 1952).

Let us make war on adjectives. The first edition Diary today says that Miss Bridge is "a well-known flower painter." There is no need for the adjective. If she is not a well-known flower painter, then the adjective is a lie. (December 23, 1952)

I see that Mr Randolph Churchill is described without the prefix in the story about Tito. The rule of this office is that famous men, such as Winston Churchill and Lloyd George, or men of that eminence may appear without the prefix, but not the sons of famous men. (September 22, 1952)

Don't dateline foreign stories from obscure places. (September 10, 1952)

One or two stories recently have assumed what might be called the "My, oh my" school of journalism in their introductions. The idea presumably is to give the world the impression that there is something surprising coming if you read on. Drop it. If you tell the news dramatically the reader will make up his own mind whether he is interested or not. (September 10, 1952)

There is a story here which starts: " Mr. Grigg was at Bodmin yesterday granted a deree nisi." Why not, Mr. Sub-editor, obey the style of the paper and say "was granted a decree nisi at Bodmin yesterday"? ( July 8, 1952)

" Once Britten twice shy" is a pun that will amuse some people and irritate others. We should rigorously, vigorously. ban puns in headline and text (June 17, 1952).

See on Page 3 the phrase " together with." The word " with" does the work. The introduction of "together" is tautologous. R.D.B. banned " together with" years ago and the ban is herewith renewed. ( June 18, 1952)

I see that we used the phrase "charged with" in police court cases. R.D.B. used to bar the phrase in his " Do's and Don'ts " and I suggest that we keep to his rule. He took the view that a man was charged with liquor but ACCUSED of an offence. " Accused of" is a much stronger term and most utilitarian in that it covers criminal charges as well as summonses. (June 24, 1952)

We call the British Embassy " our " embassy in the 4.30 a.m. fudge. That is wrong. (Mav 27,
1952)

I don't believe that Mr. Gulbenkian's secretary talks about Mrs Gulbenkian "throwing a party." and having "top society" invited. I believe these things get into newspapers when reporters telephone and say, 'Will Mrs Gulbenkian be throwing a party? or 'Will the top society of Paris be invited?' To each of these questions the secretary would say, 'Yes' and then it becomes a first-person quote. If I am am wrong, correct me. But in any case, bar the phrase 'Throw a party.' Bar such expressions as 'She thought it up.' (June 13),

In Frank Rostron's piece from Hove the ugly phrase "Sussex's" occurs twice. In a message from Pat Marshall last week the phrase"Notts's" occurs. Can we avoid these cumbersome possessives? You don't say" Notts's " or "Sussex's," so why print such phrases? (May 13, 1952)

Has anybody ever wondered why indecent offences are called "certain" incidents? Why the word "certain"? Is it necessary ? Sometimes it probably is, but all generally accepted journalistic phraseology should be examined from time to time. (April 24, 1952)

We have a rule in the office. which I thought everyone knew, that football clubs are the one exception to our rule that collective nouns take the singular (May 1, 1952).

We are in such trouble with collective nouns. I do not like the sentence, 'How much money does a young couple need?' Opinion column says, 'British Overseas Airways have the right '. But if you say, 'BAOC' the use of the singular becomes clearly correct (May 6, 1952).

Avoid inverted sentences such as, 'Pleased by the success of the experiment to produce electric power from atomic energy, American scientists are going ahead with bigger experiments.' (December 31, 1951).

We must avoid toughness in our telling of the news. The ending of the Admiral Simpson story is a first-class piece of Fleet-street writing. Absolutely admirable in that respect. But so tough as to make the Express appear to be without human sympathies (January 7, 1952).

We do not like sentences beginning with the word 'Because...' because such sentences confuse the readers. I think we might avoid beginning sentences with the word 'so' (August 17, 1951).

The Page One story headed 'Wall-street slump' - I would avoid the use of the word 'slump' unless it is done with the full co-operation and authority of the City Editor. This was a fall, or a setback, and nothing like a slump (January 11, 1951).

I have been pondering this week-end the question of the overall look. Nothing particularly new, but maybe worthwhile as a reminder... If Page 1 is heavily illustrated in a six-page paper, then pack pages 2 and 5. If Page 3 is heavily illustrated or featured, then pack Page 2, even to the extent of cutting out illustrations altogether. In an eight-page paper there is room to deviate from these generalisations, but in a six-page paper the balance of features (including pictures) against news should always be carefully sustained (June 23, 1952).

One thing in particular drives me frantic in newspapers. It is the misplaced crosshead or the misplaced decorative drop letter. Example: On today's first-class leader page there is an enormous drop letter in Jaffa's article right in the middle of a letter from a reader. (December 12, 1951)

By and large crossheads are badly done in all newspapers. They are written in a hurry on the stone and serve only one purpose - that of breaking up slabby columns. We should be the good crosshead specialists. (June 4. 1952)

I have the feeling that we should not use three-column splash stories unless the news justifies it. There are times when we are inclined to be enslaved by the make-up instead of being its master, and the three-column splash on an indifferent story is a symptom thereof. (January 21, 1952)

I don't like sans type in column 8. page 5. It is all right in the middle occasionally but not on the outside. (August 9, 1951)

I have always held the view that people do not read captions at the top of pictures because I do not read them myself. They are tolerated in the Express because they help display. 'The caption at the foot of the picture should tell the news, not the caption at the top as on Page 1 today. (June 13. 1951)

I have the idea that we are striving a bit too hard on make-up in some parts of the paper these days and that we should keep lay-out tricks under control. There is much virtue in simplicity. Always the reader OUTSIDE Fleet-street should be considered. (February 16.1953)

On reading the paper in the sticks, it seems to me that certain basic faults were developing :-
1. We seemed to be striving to get all the "important" news on either Pages l or 2, or else leave it out altogether. This resulted in the remaining news pages being rather razmataz - too many court stories, trivial romances and the like. These should be offset by the inclusion of "serious" news stories, capably handled, giving the feeling of wider coverage.

 Your ALT-Text here There was a lack of attack in the publication of certain stories and ldeas. You cannot just put
things into the Daily Express (London office pictured left). By and large, they must be projected. We have always got to tackle the news emphatically, with boldness and confidence. On each page there should be a feature
that attracts the eye. This does not necessarily mean the use of ever-increasing type size. It means the correct use of white space, the display of pictures, the head-line that intrigues the reader.

Whenever possible print a a woman's age. That's a fine paragraph in today's Diary about Lady Helena Hilton-Green, who flies to the hunt - but I wanted to know how old she was. (March 31, 1953)

We ought to have published a paragraph to say that the Queen went to the Ideal Home
Exhlbltlon. It is churlish of us to omit a reference to royal patronage of a rival newspaper's
promotion effort. [March 3, 1953)

Yesterday in a story about a broken romance we referred to the the girl's occupation as that of bottler in a lemonade factory. We used to have a rule that we did not refer to the occupations of people in lowly stations when romance or broken romance was involved. It is a good rule and should be revived. ( March 3, 1953)

The Daily Mail says that the ex-Lord Provost of Glasgow died of heart disease. When a man under 50 dies, we should give the cause of his death unless it be cancer. (March 4. 1953)

Are we not in danger of becoming a nagging paper, simply because it is much easier to criticise than to praise? We should strive now to undo that impression by taking as our slogan : ACHIEVEMENT - NOT FAILURE. (January 2, 1953.!

We fell into a bad error yesterday and had to carry a Page One correction on a story. While I seek to encourage members of staff to establish their own contacts in every field of endeavour, I must insist that they use the services of our specialists in checking their information. No one would dream of running a science story without consulting Chapman Pincher, for example. So what is the objection to consulting Percy Hoskins on matters concerning Scotland Yard and the police generally? (December 11, 1952)

We may be suffering a bit from the belief that any reference in the evening papers to a story rules it out of our planning arrangement. Nothing could be further from the truth in relation to big news. The public will read the same story twice in the hope of getting more detail in a story that interests them.. It is our job to provide that extra ounce of detail and description ; and the morning newspaper is particularly suited to do so in view of the time at our disposal over the evening paper staffs. (December 10, 1952)

Every man on the reporting staff of the Daily Express ought to be able to estimate the approximate value of his story bearing in mind that there are very few places in the paper, owing to the advertisement makeup which allow for more than half a column. And bearing in mind also that most stories used are much shorter than that. (October 27, 1952)

In the early editions at any rate there were too many stories about things and not enough stories
about people. Significant news predominated - and while that is fine, you will never get people to
digest significant news if there is nothing else on the diet sheet. Contrast is the heart and soul of a newspaper. (Even the Manchester Guardian, on a day pregnant with heavy news, found space on its front page to say that goats are to be replaced by sheep on the Malayan rubber estates). (March 17, 1953)

It always gives me pleasure when the Daily Express has a different lead story of value and worth from the other papers. (September 29, 1952)

I put forward for discussion and consideration a more phlegmatic and sophisticated approach to the telling of the news. I feel that we are getting a bit melodramatic again and that some of the melodrama undoes the air of authority which a good newspaper should have. What might be called emphatic caps :- YOU are invited ... YOU are entltled ... and so on give an air of hysteria to the telling of some items of b the news.

I noticed in the second edition the other night an intro about last week's great storms. The second paragraph began with the big word. THEY' (meaning the storms) as though the reader needed to be bludgeoned into interest.

For me the only jarring note in our excellent coverage of the Drummond murders lay in the fact that the suspected farmer has always been" grilled "- often three or four times in one story. He has never been "questioned." The French police cars have always "roared." All this emphasis tends to achieve a jumpy, hysterical atmosphere. For my part, I read with much pleasure the off-centre, consciously superior technique affected by Time magazine. Time Iets the excitement of the facts do the work, and still contrives to put itself over in a forceful, attractive and interesting way. (August 12, 1952)

Many, many stories in tile Daily Express today are of violent character. Maybe a leavening of more" thoughtful" news is necessary. I do not see anything about the Liberal transport proposals, for example. We should always seek to balance so-called shock tactics with an appeal to the thoughtful reader. There is always a danger of our over- loading the paper with humanities. I think we should keep our eye on the serious-minded people, never forgetting that good political controversy can be brightly reported so that it makes the widest appeal. In any case, I think people are interested in serious subjects, and their interests should not be excluded from the paper by the finding, shall we say, of newly born babies in sacks! ( August 8. 7952)

In the third edition yesterday we had a gory picture on the front page of the Earls Court boxing. Keep blood off the front page when it is only incidental to the news. Remember the readers' stomachs over breakfast. .(March 29, 1951)

It would do everyone connected with Fleet -street (especially editors) a power of good If they spent an occasional day off in unfamiliar territory seeing the newspaper reader as he is at work and play. In familiar territory in the neighbourhood of your own home you don't get the same perspective.

I journeyed from Rhyl to Prestatyn on Sunday past lines of boarding houses, caravans, wooden huts, shacks, tents, and heavens knows what else. In every one of them there were newspaper readers… Happy citizens, worthy, fine people, but not in the least like the reader Fleet-street seems to be writing for. These people are not interested in Glyndebourne or vintage claret or opera or the Sitwells or dry-as-dust economics or tough politics. It is our job to interest them in everything. It requires the highest degree of skill and ingenuity. (July 7, 1952)

Mr Hearst says that his ideal newspaper is one that causes the following reaction: "When the reader looks at Page One, he says, 'Gee-whiz.' When he turns to the second page, he says, 'Holy Moses.' And when he turns to the middle page, he says, 'God Almighty.' (July 11, 1952)

I make a recommendation to the reporting staff of the utmost importance. It can be summed up in one sentence: BE FRANK WITH THE EXECUTIVES. When stories contain snags which require executive consideration, the smallest concealment of essential evidence may affect publication in the most dramatic way. A piece of news may, on the surface, warrant a splash story on Page One, whereas if all the facts were known the spike might be the appropriate place. It is not the duty of reporters to build up news for the purpose of securing publication, but to present an honest, reliable and complete appraisal of the news they are sent to investigate.
A typical example occurred last night when a piece of news that was nine months old was submitted…

Beware of the cart-before-the-horse journalism. Malan's announcement of the General Election was more important than the tapping of the telephone wires. I am all for angles, but there are many occasions when the main facts must take precedence. (April 21. 1952)

Every member of the staff should read not only his own newspaper but at least one other newspaper thoroughly before he comes to the offlce. (January 30, 1952)

I am all for the unusual on Page One. I do not read stories of the type headed " Bandits gag, tie up woman" very much nowadays because people are always gagging and tying up women. Such incidents are as common as gas-oven suicides.

I am not very much in favour of stories of dog shows which describe the scene without telling us who won the championship. , A champion dog is a fascinating animal. It must have some peculiarities. It must be fed on some kind of diet. It must have an owner who wears clothes. The descriptive story without facts went out of date even before the 24-page paper died. And I was the leader of the execution party. I am also very much against such pbrases as'' Sir Ian is one of the keenest brains which have ever served the Army ." To carry a phrase like that you have to give an example of the keenness of the brain. Sir Ian may have made a practical suggestion to Mr. Churchill during the war, ~ which may qualify him as one of the keenest brains. That would be most interesting.

The Dally Mail reports a lecture on diet by Dr. Charles Hill, thereby showing its knowledge of the public interest in weight and diet. We should never cease to be interested in speeches of this kind. More people weigh themselves now than ever before. I know the man who owns the weighing machines in Woolworths and other big stores. It is quite a normal day's business to have 3,000 pennies placed in one machine. (December 13, 1951)

A Page One top that breaks in the early evening is not of necessity driven out of its position by a piece of news that breaks at a later hour. It is the quality of the Page One top that has got to be taken into account at all times. The excitement of a minor 4.30 am replate can be retained without interfering with quality. (January 8, 1952)

I wish there were some way for newspaper men to diagnose how much of any single issue of a newspaper is read. Are there people who read every line of it, as we must? Do most people 'dip', reading only that which appeals to them? I take the view that these are the majority. All my journalistic thinking is based on making the news so inviting to people that they read involuntarily news which normally would not interest them. That is why I rejoice when headlines such as 'Four Mr Europes woo Miss Britain' are written on a story from the Strasbourg conference. It is the hope that such novel presentation will at least open the door. The novelty, of course, must be provided in nine cases out of ten in the office. (November 27, 1951)

The professional touch in the paper which makes the Daily Express different from the other papers is best exemplified in the headline on the crossword on Page 6 - 'If the news flags, there's always the crossword.' This neat tying-together of an isolated feature into the general scene is polished journalism. Maybe the readers do not notice it consciously, but subconsciously they know all about it. (October 25, 1951)

The Daily Express is bought by business men as well as by housewives. How do we make an appeal to both? How do we keep the paper on a sound level of intelligence so that one section is interested and the other is not bored ? (August 13, 1951)

In general, I prefer political stories in Column Eight, Page One to human stories. ( June 28, 1951)

With the arrival of June weather we should try to make the paper suit the optimism of the masses. Never forget that the Daily Express is noted for its tonic effect. And while on this subject, it might be well to restate the three-fold rule for our paper :-
I1. Never set the police on anybody.
2. Never cry down the pleasures of the people.
3. Remember our own habits and frailties when disposed to be critical of others. (June 4, 1951)

Always. always tell the news through people. (August 7, 1952)

News, news, news - that is what we want. You can describe thing: with the pen of Shakespeare himself, but you can not beat news in a newspaper. (July 15, 1952)

I get queasy about salacious reporting. All the papers are going in for it, and in the case of the Indian doctor it was quite shocking for a family man to have to read so much detail. Surely we can take a decision to print as little salacious matter as is necessary to prove the case for the prosecution or the defence- and no more. A typical example last week was the phrase in the doctor case that there was intimacy in a car on two occasions on the back seat." It is the phrase "on the back seat" which.leaves little to the imagination. I feel that we should give a lead to the rest of Fleet-street in these reports, and leave the wealth o detail to the News of the World (March 5, 1951)

The gigantic sale of the Daily Express (more than 4m during his editorship) should never be used for belittling or mocking, or making cheap little people. We must go for the big shots when we want to criticise. We should project our selection of news and features with human understanding, with generosity of purpose, and with a full sense of the power of a mighty Press, the power to hurt and wound that a mighty Press possesses. Always we should be on our guard against the hard-boiled cynical Fleet-street approach. (March16, 1951)

Many well-informed people buy the Daily Express so that they can get the news quickly - and they maybe turn to the Times if they want more expansive coverage. But if we over-humanise to such an extent that the serious news is omitted, we will lose the confidence of this important class of readership. (October 30, 1950)

Fashions change in journalism. Once upon a time I took the view, as you all know, that in order to make a story readable you had to personalise or angle the first paragraph with a story about a real or a generic personality. I still think that newspapers are based on people But there is a development which I want to put into your minds in order that we should not be slavishly bound by the old conventions. I think that this suggestion is a step forward in the direction of more authoritative and interesting journalism.

There are times when situations are of vastly more importance than the mortals who create them.
Perhaps I can best illustrate my meaning by two current examples. Last week, Charles Foley wrote me an article about the French political situation. He began in the conventional way by inventing a character typical of the French miner. His name was Jean Dubois or Jean Deloncle. The story said that this mythical miner was sitting down to a dinner of steak and chips and a bottle of wine for the first time since before the strike. Now I took the view that the French political crisis was of much more interest to the public than the fact of the miner sitting down to a good square meal. So at my request, Foley rewrote his article and it appeared on Thursday morning as a most authoritative and brilliant piece of work It was full of personalities; it was full of first- rate descriptive involving people, but the incidents in which they were involved fell naturally into their place in the story,

Again, in our Monday morning paper, we carried the story of the submarine that had been under the water probably a month or more. And we concenrated on the fact that; during that period, one of the crew had written 120 love letters. What I really wanted to read was an account of the reactions of men under these special conditions. Did any of them at any time feel claustrophobia when they regarded themselves as prisoners under hundreds of thousands of tons of water? I would much prefer to have had a story dealing with the psycho-analytical side of this tremendous adventure than the trivial story about the 120 love letters. Mark you, the love letters come naturally into the story at a certain point.

There is the whole root of what I am suggesting. We can still carry human Interest in such stories as these without any sacrifice at all. But where the situation is more important than the person, don't strain to get off on a tangent.
I advise a study of Time and Life magazines for very fine examples of this kind of journalism. It is one of the reasons why Time and Life carry such authority with intelligent people in the United States of America.

It is the journalistic fashion to concentrate on the first paragraphs of stories. I believe in that. But I believe just as emphatically in the perfectIon of the last paragraph. (February 5, 1953)

I feel that we are allowing our narrative stories to get out of hand. In this morning's paper, there is an admirable story which starts," Dennett," said the R.S.M. last night, "it all depends on you when the Queen arrives on Thursday."
If this were the only example of narrative writing in the paper I would be full of praise. But in the circumstances, I wonder whether an intro which said straightforwardly that the 22-year-old wife of Major Patrick Telfer-Smollett played the part of the Queen in a dress rehearsal yesterday would not be more appropriate. Ninety-nine out of 100 stories in the paper should tell the news in the first paragraph and not in the body of the story. (April 12, 1953)

Watch out for loaded stories. There is a tendency for reporters to write copy which, sentence for sentence, seems innoculous, but which adds up in detail to the dangerous business of creating a prejudicial atmosphere. (April 28, 1953)

Over the last few days there has been quite a rash of explanatory footnotes. I rejoice, since I am always urging their use. But I prefer explanation in the text whenever possible so that it runs smoothly into the story. Only when this can not be done should the asterisk form be adopted. (April 20, 1953)

I would much rather see $2 used in the America Column than 14s because the English must wonder why this
oddsum is collected in fines… Can we illustrate the America Column? We used to have a map when there was no
illustration pin-pointing the news spots. Nothing should just be put into the daily Express - everything ought to be
thought into the paper. (January 15, 1953)

Last edition America Column selection is almost entirely masculine. There are three items out of 12 which might be
interesting to women, but that is not a high enough proportion. (January 27, 1953)

Too much show business in the America Column on Saturday, including some trivia about a bride of Mickey Rooney. That belongs to Lewin's column. I am not against show business at all in the America Column but it has got to be high-class. (December 1, 1952)

Saturday's U.S. Column referred to a Pole with an unpronounceable name. Once upon a time we used to give the phonetic spelling in such cases. (December 8. 1952)

The introduction of a human story on Page Two this morning -"Loveland wooer jailed" - suggests an idea. Why don't w have a human story from abroad every day in approximately the same position on this page? It would certainly invite those readers who find foreign and political coverage on Page 2 a bit forbidding. The story need not be long, but it should be human and possibly labelled. (September 24. 1952)

I suppose there must be some days when there is not a lot o hard news about in America. but certainly the America Column needs it all the time The tendency is to get too much magaziney stuff in this column, no doubt because it is filed early in the day. Last night it could have been hardened up by the inclusion of one or two new stories that were filed later in the night. ( July/ 10, 1952. )

In the paper during the last day or two there have been many references to foreign currency which have been most praisworthily translated into pound sterling. But is it not ridiculous to say that the New York Yankeees are going to spend £8,000 to promote British football? I suppose that is 25,000 dollars, which is a nice round figure. (August 6,1952)
I see the America Column calls the New York Times tbe N.Y.T. Oh, please don't let us have any more initials than we can help. (March 6, 1952)

I was delighted to see that American expression " Yackety yackety " in Newell Rogers's piece. That is not slang. That is virile use of a modern colloquialism. My idea of slang is to call a restaurant a 'joint'. But new words will always be welcome. (December 19, 1951)

The American Column today is the best of its kind because it gives us news of America, reflecting the mood of Americans towards their own problems and towards us. I would like to see the pace of the intro paragraph varied from time to time. A dramatic squib is required occasionally to get away from the five or six paragraph method into which we have fallen. Perhaps the only unsuitable paragraph in the column today is the first story. Why? Because it is not a typical American piece. It might have happened anywhere. It is just another human story which could have been sent from Timbuctoo. (January 2, 1952)

It would be a good idea to concentrate on the last item in the America Column as well as the first. It seems to me that it should be in the nature of a tailpiece striking a lightish note. Something that the reader would look for each morning. Certainly the column should not end with a dull thud. (January 9, 1952)

A reader of the daily Express says: 'Don't you think your articles are interesting enough without having to draw particular attention to them by using spots and stars? In today's edition alone, I counted 16 spots and 40 stars.
Dear, dear. Are we really dazzling our readers to that extent? CUT DOWN ON SPOTS AND STARS.

I see also that italic type is spreading like a rash through the news pages. It is thinner than the ordinary body type and does not break up our pages as effectively as ordinary indent. SO USE ITALICS SPARINGLY AND FOR SPECIFIC PURPOSES ONLY. (April 9, 1953)

A reminder is hereby issued that type should be our slave and not our master. This applies particularly to the body type of the newspaper for, by and large, we are masters of headline type. But body type can be made to dance excitingly in front of the reader if properly used for display purposes. (January 26, 1953)

Pica in Column 8 Page One should be set left. not left and right, on account of the margin space. ( December 12, 1952)

I think we should try to pack more and more stories into the paper. Sometimes our exuberant display gives an impression of scanty treatment. Can we, for example. reduce the size of headlines on Page 3 when there is a half-page ad. to contend with? (December 29.1952)

Beware of a rash of scored headings. They are effective when used with discretion. but I could not see any reason why "Vicar accuses his bishop" in Column 8, Page 3, was scored. Scored headings do not seem to fit the outside column. (December 30.1952)

I have become a fan of Page 5 on holiday, with its simple make- up and not too many tricks. It is good to have a page where everythiing is straightforward. (No inverted knock at other pages intended; merely an expression of the viewpoint that every page has a purpose) (November 25. 1952)

On Page 5 in the final edition there is a headline in most odd type-" When there's a disaster.'. I want to impress on all connected with the typography of the paper in London, Manchester and Glasgow that it is laid out in Century Bold and freak types should not be used. (October 24, 1952)

On Saturday I had the feeling that there was just a bit too much white space in some of the headlines. When the decks are either very short or very full the newsy appearance of the paper suffers. (October 27, 1952)

Reminder - we should strive and strive and stl1ive to produce a front page with no turnaways. (October 28, 1952)

HEADLINE WRITING
Glad to see the paper reverting to normal streamer type on page 1 this morning. The 72 point and 84 point should be reserved for news of sensational international significance. (March 16, 1953)

A story must always live up to its headlines and the headlines should never exceed the value of the story. (September 9, 1952)

Fill out your headlines -
ELEVEN STORES
MUST CLOSE
on Page 1 this morning is too thin and spoils the rhythm of the paper. Headlines at the top of the page need space, but down the pages should fill out on the top line and balance well.

More tops showing above the fold on Page 1 than yesterday. That is helpful not only on the bookstall but in creating a sense of surprise on the front page. As I said before, the Express is never better than when the readers get the sense that something happened yesterday when they pick up our paper while other papers make it just another day. (July 15, 1952)

In one of the papers today there is a headline, "Crystal set band leader made history," which reminds me of the headline written by one of the Liverpool papers when Lord Leverhulme died - "Death of a well-known Cheshire peer."

It is really pleasant to work on a newspaper whose headline reads simply 'Debroy Somers dies at 62'. (May 28, 1952)

More and more I am convinced that the straight news should be in 99 out of 100 headlines. (June 9, 1952)

A story had been fitted into a make-up instead of the make-up being designed round the best headline. So - write the ideal headline and then lay out your page. There is the policy of perfection! It would mean that we were the masters instead of the slaves of type - which is, of course, the basic weakness of the Page 1 streamer technique.

The headline, 'The horse with the heart of gold' is better than the first edition headline, 'Never-win horse delights owner.' Why? Because this is the kind of story that needs the oblique approach. (May 6, 1952)

A streamer should fill out flush against the column rule. (February 29, 1952)

Most of the papers had good headlines on the enticement case, but top of the class goes to the Daily Graphic man who writes : " The man who came to dinner stole the cook." That headline has flow. It "says" easily. Our headlines are often, but not always, the best. Good headlines are written in vigorous, conversational, idiomatic language. Good headlines should be capable of being read aloud, which the mind does subconsciously. We sometimes drop into sterile head- line phraseology - not everywhere but more than is perhaps necessary. (January 29, 1952)

I have a note from our Science Correspondent which raises one of the oldest issues in journalism. And one that we can never quite cure. I refer to headlines which turn probability into fact. Pincher wrote a story on Page 1 yesterday which stated that Britain m1ght get a loan of atomic explosive, which would save a year's work. The headline said : 'U.S. atom aid saves year for Britain:' thereby tuming a probability into a positive statement. Headlines are liable to cause legal trouble by becoming too emphatic. We must keep them scrupulously accurate. (November 13. 1951)

I detect a retum of the joke headline -"Channel No.5" on Page 1 and "Jack and the beans talk out" on Page 5. The first bead]ine is ingenious, the second frightful. But in general joke headlines must be avoided. The news will always beat the joke. ( August 2, 1951)

Deep and shallow headlines alternating are not only economical but bring contrast to the layout. (June 12, 1951)

Detail: In my young days in journalism we were forbidden to put blocks on the fold. Nowadays they are on the fold as often as not. Even the pocket cartoon gets on the fold. We should strive now to stop cutting off people's noses from their chins. (June 4, 1951).

Page 5 pictures are printed so indifferently these days that we should make a special effort to introduce original methods of projection: arrows, tabs, reversed screen captions, marrying the pictures with the news as in yesterday's picture of Jack Buchanan on Page 3, and so on. The success of Page 5 depends to a great extent on original picture projection. (April 4, 1951)

A long time ago, I put forward the idea that make-up depended on a strong beginning, a good middle and a strong end. We must not make every column shout against its neighbour. I see there are boxes creeping back into the paper all over the place. We must find a way of breaking up solid stuff without using them. (March 9, 1951)

I dislike boxes that float in the middle of type. My inclination is to miss them altogether. We should not have boxes anyway, but when we do have them, put them at the top or the bottom of columns. (November 1, 1950)

Advice to the critics: they should not assume too much knowledge on the part of the reader. It is their job to give information to the reader in such a way as not offend the erudite and not to patronise the ignorant. (April 1, 1953)

We are slipping into bad habits again over theatre coverage. The critic is being asked to keep his stuff short and then when he does so he is still being cut. I think this is the wrong approach in the first place. A man should not be asked to keep his stuff short. He should be asked how much his stuff is worth. Space problems should not be his concern and, of course, if his stuff is good and his subject worthy, space can be found. But in any case we will never sustain our reputation as a paper specialising in this kind of news if the critic is harassed in the first place and cut in the second, (April 10, 1953)

As part of our 1953 policy I seek wider coverage of cultural pusuits in the newspaper. We have a fine staff to achieve this purpose. All it requires is the enthusiastic co-operation of those who produce the paper at night. I make many rules - as, for example, the grouping together of theatres, ballet, and music in Page Three, but the occasion may well arise when any of these subjects will demand fuller treatment than can be given on this page. When there is any- thing startling, anything fine. anything novel, anytbing new, let us be alive to the fact that many rules are made to be broken and that the paper will always be better if initiative and imagination are shown. (January I, 1953)

THE DIARY
I have the idea that our Diary is dealing in the rarefied atmosphere of the Upper Ten in society, art, politics, and diplomacy lately. This column should be of the widest range of interest, dealing with all sides of life and particularly London life. As women are the most earnest readers of diaries. there should be a pronounced effort to flavour the column in their direction. A sense of activity and a sense of observation are most helpful. I wonder what luxury vegetables Fortnums are selling today and what price they are? There is often a lot of news to be got out of shop windows. (March 17, 1953)

Diary paragraphs are running too long, even in the last edition. We msut vary the pace to keep the readers interested. (February 3, 1953)

We must standardise a magnificent tailpiece for the Diary each day. (January 8, 1953)

The Diary should not be a political vehicle. It can talk about politicians in the social sense but it should not duplicate with either Opinion in the Daily Express or Crossbencher in the Sunday Express. (January 23, 1953)

The word "recently" which occurs twice in the Diary should be barred. It reeks of library cuttings. It reeks of old news. (April 3, 1953)

 

Christiansen had a Chamber of Horrors which he listed and, in some cases, suggested alternatives. Here is a selection:


inform (tell) / initial stages / initiate
in most instances / inquire (ask)
in rare cases (rarely) / in reference to / in regard to / in respect of
in short supply
institute inquiries / instrumental in
insuperable obstacle / integrate
interavailability / interim
in the case ot
in the interests of
it is clear that (clearly) - itemise
juncture, at this
length of time (how long) / level, at a high or top / limped into harbour / liquidate literally
major (important)
make an approach to / maladjustment / malnutrition
marginal land
matter of first importance / maximum effort
movement is on foot
natives (use Africans, Arabs. appropriate tribal names)
nature, of a certain / negative, to
network of naval bases / non-availability
not too distant future / number of cases, in a
objective (aim, purpose) / on to (on) / optimum
overall figures, targets
paramount importance / partially (partly)
pending (until) / per annum (a year) / percentage (where a part of will do)
personnel

[The Times calls this word an "alien collective " and doubts whether ..a more degrading, a more ill-favoured synonym for two or more members of the human race has been coined. People to whom it is applied don't go, they proceed. They do not have, they are, or more often are not, in possession of. i'hey do not ask, they make application)


Daily Express editors


1900: Arthur Pearson · 1901: Fletcher Robinson · 1909: R. D. Blumenfeld · 1929: Beverley Baxter · 1933: Arthur Christiansen · 1957: Edward Pickering · 1961: Bob Edwards · 1962: Roger Wood · 1963: Bob Edwards · 1965: Derek Marks · 1971: Ian McColl · 1974: Alastair Burnet · 1976: Roy Wright · 1977: Derek Jameson · 1980: Arthur Firth · 1981: Christopher Ward · 1983: Larry Lamb · 1986: Nicholas Lloyd · 1995: Richard Addis · 1998: Rosie Boycott · 2001: Chris Williams · 2003: Peter Hill · 2011: Hugh Whittow

Sunday Express editors

1920: James Douglas · 1928: James Douglas and John Gordon · 1931: John Gordon · 1952: Harold Keeble · 1954: John Junor · 1986: Robin Esser · 1989: Robin Morgan · 1991: Eve Pollard · 1994: Brian Hitchen · 1995: Sue Douglas · 1996: Richard Addis · 1998: Amanda Platell · 1999: Michael Pilgrim · 2001: Martin Townsend

See: The newspaper crisis

 

 

 

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