The Times, January 15, 2023

This is by Martin Samuel, a highly paid sports writer who in this autobiographical piece repeatedly refers to his ‘bent’ for English. One would therefore think he would know how to spell the name of Philip Larkin, possibly the best known British poet of the 20th century. If he doesn’t, the sub certainly should. This is ignorance of a high level.

Actually, if you a connoisseur of journalists who think they can write, this is a good example of the genre. Pure gibberish. You can see it here.


Times, December 13, 2022

Spot the difference between the heading, the intro and the caption. That’s right, there isn’t any.  This is pathetically poor practice. The heading could have been

Hoaxer Lewis-Smith dies

The caption could have been

Lewis-Smith: Targeted Princess Diana





Sunday Times, December 4, 2022

Just to be clear, this is the Sunday Times, which proudly proclaims at the top of the front page that it is ‘Sunday newpaper of the year’ (according to whom? Readers of the Dandy?) I don’t know where to begin with this shocker. ‘Pray’ is a verb without a noun form, so it can’t go with a possessive noun. It is like saying ‘Lion’s die’. Is it meant to be a pun on ‘prey’? If so, it doesn’t work. I really have no idea what went on in the ‘brain’ of the person who wrote this piece of gibberish, or those who passed it, but no doubt they said ‘Yes, that’s great! Well done!’ You could have got away with ‘Lion’s prayer’ or ‘Lions’ prayer’ if you were determined to go with the line, but I would have made it something like ‘Let us prey  . . . on Senegal’. Heaven knows there’s enough room.


i newspaper, November 23, 2022

Funny that this is about a sort of goldfish, a species which is supposed to have a three-second memory. This is a myth (they have good memories), but obviously it applies to the sub who handled this and failed to notice that the fish weighed 28kg at the start of the piece and 30kg at the end.

The reader has no need to be told in the headline that the angler was British. Unless told otherwise, one can assume the subject of a story in a British newspaper is British, not Mongolian.

The ‘i’ has the annoying feature of putting a tag above every headline (I think this is a device to soak up space so that it can get away with processing fewer words in copy). Was ‘People’ really the best tag? On a story about a fish?

Lastly, isn’t this a story that cries out for a picture? Is it worth using without? This is how Sky News did it (the story is almost equally bad but I have run out of energy).


Times, November 21, 2022

This is like another regular nonsense, ‘the priceless diamond worth £5million’. It beats me how you can write/let through the word ‘counts’ and have forgotten it six words later.


i newspaper, November 16, 2022

Times, November 16, 2022

I am really fed up with the cliché ‘going under the hammer’ in every story about an auction. Here are two on one day. Apart from anything else, even though it is only a figure of speech, it creates a visual impression, and neither cake nor jewellery come out of it well. Nor do paintings, porcelain, classic cars or any of the myriad items that are sold by auction.

In any case, it is not necessary to use the expression. In the first story you could say ‘is to be auctioned’ in the first reference and ‘sold’ in the second. In the second story you could say ‘is to be auctioned next month’. In both cases I would add the years of the weddings (2005 and 2011) to emphasise that these are rather ancient pieces of cake.



Spectator, November 5, 2022

This is a good example of a sub missing a chance to save the writer from an error. She has confused ‘can’t hold a candle to’, meaning ‘not nearly as good as’, with ‘I don’t carry a torch for’, meaning to be in love with someone, usually unrequitedly. Obviously the sub didn’t know what the expression ‘hold a candle to’ means, so he or she should have looked it up. This is the whole point of subbing – all writers make mistakes and we should stop them getting into print. All subs make mistakes too, but that is a different story.


i newspaper, November 3, 2022

If you have a picture with the King in it, you really do not need to point out that the other person is on the left. In my opinion this is a pretty lousy picture anyway and not worth using since you can’t see Bhaskar’s face.