Cross head 28-03-03

Credit where it’s due

“Where’s my byline?” is a familiar refrain to subs and it is one many photographers will utter on their return from Iraq. You’d think war pictures would automatically be credited, but some photographers are losing out. Pages one to 10 of last weekend’s News of the World were devoted to the war, yet not one picture carried a credit. But picture credits were given to First News (“TV Gillian’s lover cheats with barmaid”), Martin Cullum (“I bedded Dwight then did dirty with Anelka”), Rex Features (“J-Lo’s got cellulite”) and Paul Ashton (“Lord lust wore police hat as he got out his truncheon for me”). Stablemate The Sunday Times, by contrast, credited all war pictures.

They’re attrit again

We’ve all had to learn the language of war yet BBC pundit Martin Navias left this viewer baffled with what he unleashed from his verbal arsenal. “The goal of the coalition forces is to attrit the Iraqis,” he stated. He said it again later that night and again the next day. According to US academic Andrey Georgieff, this is “relatively new as a verb, created specially for war reporting. It comes from the Latin ‘atterere’ (at-tero, trivi, tritus).” In the first Gulf War, he adds, the purpose of bombing Baghdad was to attrit the enemy, to grind the enemy down. He says “this most perverse use of the verb” was made 30 years ago by a Pentagon spokesman who was explaining to a reporter that the Americans wanted to wear away grassroots support for the Vietcong among the population. “That this meant killing the people went without saying,” says Georgieff.

Conversion fun

Reporters, as we know, are too important to have to bother with things like converting currencies (unless doing their exes), so sub-editors should check out www.onlineconversion.com. It will convert anything: Celsius into Fahrenheit, stones into kilos and there are other fun calculations. Did you know there are 6,796 days before Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore reaches retirement age?

Learning the lingo

A sub who recently spent some time “embedded” with a mountain biking publication has emerged with a much-enlarged vocabulary. His favourite new words include “crotch-testing”: sudden impact between a male’s privates and the handlebar stem; “John Boy’ed”: when a rider’s face gets covered with spots of mud, making him look like John Boy from The Waltons; “nard guard”: device used to prevent wang chung; “wang chung”: what you might get when your stem has no nard guard. n

Cross Head returns in two weeks

Next week: Dr Deadline

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