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Oct Nov Dec 2011

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec




6th Oct



10th Dec

I wanted Trapalanda to be left alone as a place of peace, slowness, emptiness and imagining” – Chris Moss on the battle of the Patagonia dam

The men and women who once attempted to 29th Oct build England’s green and pleasant land in Palestine start to sing ‘Jerusalem’”– Remembering Britain’s forgotten war

I think we are superstars” – Rwandan Paralympic hopeful Dominique Bizimana




As long as a piece’s history doesn’t require explanation, everyone keeps on making money” – Inside the world of stolen art


18th Nov


whiskey and then you’d hear the tip-­tap of the typewriter” – Denis MacShane MP remembers Christopher Hitchens

18th Oct

Guilty: Knox 3rd Oct looks stunned as appeal against murder conviction is rejected” – The dangers of pre-emptive news


2nd Nov

It’s culture and persuasion over guns and sanctions – dolls over drones” – Sesame Street goes to Pakistan

His death is one of those small things” – A South Korean’s view of the demise of Kim Jong-il

:HZHUHRSSRVLQJ*DGGDÀLQDODQJXDJHKHGLGQ·WZDQWDQ\RQH to hear” – Aiman Maguz, co-­founder of Libya’s Tribute FM

17th Dec

The 9th Oct Trinidad Scorpion Butch T Pepper is so hot it melts Latex gloves” – The strange world of competitive chilli eating


€14 | $22 | A$20 | ¥2 |


The Slow Journalism magazine | Last to breaking news

I fear for you, 15th Dec I want you to get off the bus. Get off” He’d murder – Going undercover in Homs whole bottles of 19th Dec

Essentially I’ve got a female starting at centre back” – Can a transgender defender save the world’s worst football team?

20th Oct


£10 Issue 05


Davis And Cairo Are 1 Fist” – How a pepper-spraying cop brought infamy to a sleepy Californian town

29th Oct

We were all pirates in those days” - Jimmy Savile and the 1951 Tour of Great Britain


‘Lung Mixture’ by Eelus



Sat 1st Oct – Sat 31st Dec 2011

The world’s population reaches seven billion Mon 31st Oct

By Jack A Goldstone, Professor of Public Policy

Muammar Gaddafi is killed

Kim Jong-il dies

Thu 20th Oct

By Korean blogger TK

Thu 17th Dec

By Aiman Maguz, co-founder, Tribute FM.

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are acquitted of murder Mon 3rd Oct

Occupy timeline Mon 21st Nov

How the protests spread across the world

By John Follain, journalist and author

Steve Jobs Wed 5th Oct

Andy Hertzfeld remembers his time working with the Apple boss


“I have to fight to play” Tue 18th Oct

Introducing the Rwandan Sitting Volleyball team

Syria undercover

Brushes with the law

Sat 19th Dec

Wed 2nd Nov

An secret trip to Homs

The murky world of art crime

Out of Eden Sat 15th Oct

Palestine comes to North Yorkshire

Fri 18th Nov

The fallout from Lt John Pike’s pepper-spraying of protesters

A man, a plan, a dam Thu 6th Oct

Chris Moss reports on the battle for Patagonia

Send in the Cookie Monster! Sat 10th Dec

Can ‘Sesame Street’ save US/Pakistani relations?


Occupational hazards

Plot lines Tue 18th Oct

Scrapheap challenge

Light entertainers

Dec opener

Sun 20th Dec

Googling trends over December

The recycled value of prized monuments

Celebrities flicking the Christmas switches across Britain

How to run a penny stock pump and dump

The Frame Game

Nov opener


The making of the Booker Prize longlist

The true meaning of Christmas

The butterfly effect Sun 11th Dec

How Prince Albert’s tree led to threats of war in Korea

Cavaliere attitudes

Thu 13th Oct

Your guide to making a quick buck

The quarter in financial ruin

Sat 12th Nov

Mon 31st Oct

Berlusconi’s career at a glance

Business disasters of the period

Christopher Hitchens

The Iron Ladies

Tue 15th Dec

Sun 23rd Oct


The world’s female heads of state and government

Eelus interviewed

Denis MacShane MP remembers his friend

Oct opener

One list to rule them all

The month’s biggest art sales tracked day by day

What was the best album of 2011?

The quarter in feeble thieves

The smart money

Fri 7th Oct

Odd thefts from the last three months

On the cover…

Mon 28th Nov

Tue 29th Nov

The bets you should have made this quarter

The film formula Mon 31st Oct, Wed 30th Nov, Sat 31st Dec

Every film release of the quarter boiled down


“We are much saddened by the death of our comrade Kim Jong-il”

Some like it hot

The end of ‘Up Yours’?

Sun 9th Oct

The world of extreme chilli-eating

Thu 10th Nov

A history of digital swearing

Fri 23rd Dec

British communists on North Korea

Jimmy Savile and the Hard Luck Tour Sat 29th Oct

How a cycle race spawned a showbiz legend

Breaking bad Tue 15th Dec


The perils of pre-emptive news reporting

The odd squad Thu 24th Nov

The salvation of the world’s worst international football team

When the balloon went up Mon 21st Nov

The story of Britain’s first hot air balloon trip

Mon 3rd Oct 2011

Moment that mattered

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are acquitted of murder John Follain, Sunday Times journalist and author “I wasn’t that shocked by Knox and Sollecito’s acquittal, because of the body language in the court throughout the appeal trial. The judges and jurors hung on every word of the defence lawyers, but they sat back in their seats wearing sceptical expressions when the prosecution was responding. Often when the prosecutors made requests they would be slapped down by the judges. It was very noticeable in the last pleas – when Amanda and Raffaele stood up in turn to speak and proclaim their innocence – how attentive the court was. That is not to say that the acquittal was expected. I was sat just behind the Kercher family and after almost four years of them being told that Amanda and Raffaele were guilty, it really made them feel as if they were back at square one. They wondered where the 10,000 pages of evidence had gone. The key moment in the whole appeal trial was when the two court-appointed experts, who had been brought in to examine DNA evidence on a kitchen knife and Meredith’s bra clasp, showed a video of the forensic police taken at the cottage. The experts said they used dirty gloves, shook the evidence and passed it between themselves. You could see the shock and surprise on the faces of the judges and the jurors as they watched. I have been reporting on the case since the day that Meredith’s body was discovered and it was always clear that it would be a huge story. The rareness of the situation – one female student being accused of killing another – the youth and looks of the protagonists and the cocktail of sex and drugs alleged by the prosecution helped make it so. But over the last four years, the Perugians kept their distance from the trial, and it was very rare to see more than half a dozen of them in court. There was a feeling that it wasn’t a Perugian murder in the sense that outsiders were involved – both the victim and the people who had been targeted by the prosecution. That is not to say that the city didn’t care, and there was always affection for the victim, who was known as ‘La povera Meredith’ (Poor Meredith). On the night of the verdict, thousands of people turned up in

the square and when Amanda and Raffaele’s lawyers came out there was a strong reaction, with some people shouting ‘assassins!’ and ‘shame!’. Talking to people in Perugia over the following days it was clear that they weren’t convinced by the verdict and most believed what the prosecution said – that Amanda, Raffaele and Rudy [Guede] were all guilty. In the Italian system you are not definitively convicted or acquitted until you have exhausted all possibilities of appeal. There are two possibilities of appeal, so there was the first trial at which Amanda and Raffaele were convicted, then the second where they were acquitted of the murder. Now what is expected is that there will be a trial by the supreme court in Rome, the highest court, which will either be in the summer or the autumn. The Supreme Court will confirm the acquittal, declare them guilty or call for a retrial because of the controversy over the appeal trial. Of course it is unlikely that Amanda would return from America for the second appeal. The prosecution found out about the rules of extradition in case Amanda were to be convicted in Rome. They were told that there was zero possibility that the US would ever send Amanda back, especially considering the very strong public opinion there that Amanda is innocent. I think the second appeal will go on even without Amanda. The precedent for big Italian crime cases is that you can have somebody convicted for years, maybe decades and then suddenly somebody comes forward and the whole thing gets started again. Nothing is ever really set in stone in the Italian judicial system and we do have this contradiction now that the supreme court in Rome said that Rudy killed Meredith with others and this acquittal says that it wasn’t Amanda and Raffaele. So the question is left hanging – if it wasn’t them, then who was it? To be honest, though, I am sceptical of the chances of the final truth of how and why Meredith died coming from an Italian courtroom.” Interview by Rob Orchard.

“This acquittal says that it wasn’t Amanda and Raffaele. The question is left hanging – if it wasn’t them, then who was it?”

John Follain is a journalist for the Sunday Times and the author of ‘Death in Perugia: The Definitive Account of the Meredith Kercher Case from Her Murder to the Acquittal of Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox’.

Oct Sat 1st

“By punishing one Mumtaz Qadri, you will produce a thousand Mumtaz Qadris!” Reuters reports the words of a demonstrator outside a prison in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, where Malik

Mumtaz Hussain Qadri is sentenced to death by hanging for the assassination of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer in Islamabad in January. Qadri shot Taseer while working as his police bodyguard because he disagreed with the politican’s attempts to revise Pakistan’s blasphemy law. Temperatures in Gravesend in Kent reach 29.9ºC, the hottest

October temperature ever recorded

in the UK. Sun 2nd

In Denmark, a new ‘fat tax’ on foods containing over 2.3 per cent saturated fat is launched. Money

raised from the new tax will be used to fund anti-obesity policies. German-trained filly Danedream

wins the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in a record time of two hours, 24

minutes and 49 seconds. The horse had starting odds of 27-1 to win, and was bought by its current owners for just €9,000 a year ago. Mon 3rd

Amanda Knox is released from prison after an Italian appeals

court overturns the 26-year-old’s sentence for the murder and sexual assault of her British roommate Meredith Kercher. f Moment that mattered At the High Court in London, a judge rules that Basildon Council

can remove caravans from 49 of the 54 plots that make up the Dale Farm Travellers site in Essex, the

largest in the country. The site is the home of around 400 Travellers, who have been fighting the council’s plan to clear it and return it to green belt land for ten years. m12th Oct


Janet Devlin



Justin Fletcher (aka Mr Tumble)

Nov Light entertainers

In Wolverhampton, nothing says Christmas quite like Fireman Sam and Linda Lusardi flicking a switch. But which celebrities turned on the festive lights in Britain’s other cities? Illustration: Christian Tate






Paije Richardson


Stacey Solomon



Joe McElderry



BLACKPOOL Tinchy Stryder


Zoe Henry, Mark Charnock and Jeff Hiordley (from Emmerdale)

19th 19th


Rebecca Ferguson

Beverley Knight



Linda Lusardi and Fireman Sam

Ronan Parke Matt Cardle Tinchy Stryder





Olly Murs



Singer Actor Comedian Kids’ TV Britain’s Got Talent X Factor The Only Way Is Essex


James ‘Arg’ Argent





Sheila Ferguson (from The Three Degrees)







Larry Lamb

The cast of ‘Spamalot’

Sat 12th

The Arab League votes to impose sanctions on Syria and suspend it

from its meetings.

An Islamist militant kills seven and blows himself up in the southern Kazakh city of Taraz. There had previously been terror attacks in Kazakhstan in May and October. Seventeen Revolutionary Guards, including a major figure in Iran’s missile programme, are killed in a

blast at a missile base at Bid Ganeh, Iran. Sources say that

Israel is suspected of plotting the explosion, although the official explanation is that it was an accident. Silvio Berlusconi resigns as prime

minister of Italy. j‘Cavaliere attitudes’ m 16th Nov

Juan Manuel Santos, the president of Colombia, calls for

governments around the world to debate the possibility of legalising some drugs in order to help

combat drug trafficking and its violent consequences. Sun 13th

“This is really, really difficult” Talking on the BBC’s ‘Andrew Marr Show’, Tony Blair evaluates the precarious situation in the Eurozone, saying that current

European leaders are “behind the curve” in tackling the problems and that: “The myth that the Italian and German economies were the same – that ten-year myth has now evaporated.” Mon14th

The Bangkok Post reports that the death toll from recent

flooding in Thailand has reached 562 people. Tue 15th

New York police raid the Occupy Wall Street site in Zuccotti Park, remove tents and property, and arrest around 200 people.

Occupational hazards A

lone protester on the UC Davis quad is clutching a placard: “Ask me about banning plastic bags!” As students cycle past him with barely a glance – cars are rare sights on campus – you sense he’s preaching to the converted. At the edge of the quad, a female student’s sign reads “Give Blood – Free Ice Cream!”: a few steps away, the young man at the Davis College Republicans desk seems thoroughly bored of his own company. It’s the morning of Tuesday 17th January and UC Davis almost looks like a perfectly wholesome Californian campus. Almost. The centre of the quad is home to a small campsite, and at noon today, 200 Occupy UC Davis protesters will gather around the nine tents and march through campus, ending up at an unused building which they plan to take over. The campsite marks the spot where two months ago Lt John Pike peppersprayed a row of non-violent student protesters sitting cross-legged on the ground. The photos of the incident spread quickly and widely. Davis – population around 65,000 – had never seen anything like it. Everybody in this semi-rural spot, where town and gown are almost inseparable, felt the impact. Davis was little more than farmland when the University of California arrived with its chequebook in 1908. Today it’s one of the most educated cities in America (almost 70 per cent of residents have graduate degrees) and is famed for its liberal politics. Before November 2011, the town was best known for its extensive network of cycle paths and its annual Whole Earth Festival, a huge celebration of sustainable living. Now, however, if the residents of this proud, pretty place type “Davis California” into Google, predictive search will suggest they’re looking for “Davis California pepper spray”.

Wayne Tilcock/AP/Press Association Images


Images of a police officer pepper-spraying students at an Occupy protest made the University of California in Davis infamous overnight. Two months after the incident, Matthew Lee finds a campus still in a state of shock. Fri 18th

Send in the Cookie Monster!

Dec Thu 1st

It is reported that a 19-year-old Afghan woman jailed for 12 years for adultery after she was raped by a relative is set to be freed – but

only after she agrees to marry the man who attacked her. UK trade union Unison says Jeremy Clarkson should be sacked for comments made on ‘The One Show’. Speaking about striking workers, Clarkson said “I would take them

As Sesame Street launches in Pakistan, Rachel Halliburton looks at the politics behind the fluffy, all-singing shock troops of American soft power. Illustration: Christian Tate


outside and execute them in front of their families.” He insisted it

was taken out of context and that it was clearly a joke. Fri 2nd

The findings of the inquiry into Stafford Hospital reveal a number of NHS failings at the facility where as many as 1,200 patients

died in four years after suffering neglect. There are cases of

unqualified receptionists assessing emergency treatment, sick people being denied food and drink, and patients falling over and dying because there were no staff on hand to attend to them.

“I’m a proud Effin woman. And I always will be an Effin woman” Anne Marie Kennedy begins a

campaign to get Facebook to recognise the village of Effin in County Limerick after it was was branded “offensive” and blocked from the site.

Herman Cain announces that he will withdraw from the race for Republican nomination in the United States presidential election following a series of sexual harassment allegations. Around 45,000 people are evacuated from the German city of Koblenz after an unexploded WWII bomb is found on the bed of the River Rhine. m 4th Dec

Matt Crossick/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Sat 3rd

lmo may look like the lovechild of a bath mat and a genetically modified chrysanthemum. But the three-and-a-half year-old baby monster exerts the kind of magnetism that has made him into a marketing sensation. In 1996, a doll version of the red, shaggy ‘Sesame Street’ star, “Tickle Me Elmo” – was featured on US comedian Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show: the result was a buying frenzy which made hundreds of millions of dollars for the Sesame Workshop, and led to some dolls being advertised at as much as $2,000. But while you can see the appeal to toddlers, Elmo has a more unlikely fanbase – the world’s leading politicians. For Elmo has been deployed by USAID (the US Agency for International Development) to Pakistan, where his not insignificant mission is to help boost literacy in a country with one of the lowest rates in the world, and promote tolerance at the same time as his home country is dropping bombs in drone attacks on the north west tribal areas. In the West, the reaction to the sending of ‘Sesame Street’ to Pakistan – where it has been redeveloped and renamed ‘Sim Sim Hamara’ – has been divided. While liberal newspapers and broadcasters have given it an amused thumbs up, in December the never less than outspoken Republican Senator Tom Coburn attacked it in his annual report ‘Wastebook’ as an unnecessary waste of federal money

at $10 million for the first leg of the project (overall the proposed spending is $20 million over four years). Describing the new characters for the show Coburn singled out “a conceited well-dwelling crocodile named Haseen O Jameel, a spirited adult woman, Baaji, who enjoys family time and tradition, and Baily, a hard-working donkey who longs to be a pop star.” Jared Thomas, a taxpayer advocate and prominent member of the right wing Christian Coalition, said: “When you’re explaining to somebody that our taxes have gone up this year so that we can have a Pakistani version of Oscar the Grouch, that just doesn’t pass the smell test.” But Oscar didn’t get the call-up. While Senator Coburn has correctly identified some characters, ‘Sim Sim Hamara’s most significant cast member is actually Rani, a six-yearold, cricket-mad female puppet who is endlessly curious – providing an important role model in a country where at 40 per cent (according to most recent UN figures), female literacy is significantly lower than the 69 per cent rate among men. There is also Munna, a five-yearold boy who lives for maths and playing the tabla-drum. What makes SSH distinctively ‘Sesame Street’ is its transformation of the slightly wholemeal principles of tolerance and egalitarianism (along with literacy and numeracy) into a brightlycoloured, endorphin-raising, fast-food kind of fun.

“Elmo’s mission is to help boost literacy and promote tolerance while his home country is dropping bombs in drone attacks”

‘Sim Sim Hamara’ is a classic example of soft power, defined by Professor Joseph Nye, who coined the phrase in his seminal ‘Bound to Lead’ in 1990, and described it as “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than through coercion”. It’s culture and persuasion over guns and sanctions, or – in this case – dolls over drones. Nye is cautiously optimistic about the introduction of Elmo and co to Pakistan. “I think programmes like ‘Sesame Street’ can help, particularly with younger kids who still have open minds,” he says. But given that the soft power equation relies on the perceived legitimacy of foreign policies, how can anything American be well received in the context of the drone strikes? “Drone strikes may increase power but at the cost of reducing soft power,” Nye concedes. “On the other hand the differences between the countries are greater than just drone strikes.”

The sheer extent of the empathy chasm between the US and Pakistan is illustrated in the most recent research by America’s Pew Research Center. “Negative attitudes to the US are pervasive in Pakistan,” says Richard Wike, associate director of the Pew Global Attitudes Project. “Our last survey there, conducted in May 2011, found that only 12 per cent of Pakistanis had a favourable

opinion of the US. Only eight per cent of Pakistanis expressed confidence in President Obama to do the right thing in world affairs, which is about the same rating that President Bush received in 2008.” “There are a number of factors that drive anti-American sentiments in Pakistan. The war next door in Afghanistan is unpopular, as are American drone strikes in Pakistan. American anti-terrorism efforts are widely opposed, and most think the US does not consider Pakistan’s interest when it is making foreign policy. And most believe the US favours India over Pakistan.”

Dec Wed 7th

The former Israeli president

Moshe Katsav arrives at a prison outside Tel Aviv to start a sevenyear term for the rape of a female

The butterfly effect How Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha helped lead to threats of war on the thirty-eighth parallel... Words: Rob Orchard Illustration: Christian Tate Sun 11th


Christmas 1841

a secret bunker in the Italian town of Casapesenna. Zagaria is the head of a powerful group in the Camorra crime syndicate, which investigators estimated to be worth €20 billion (£16.7 billion) in 2008. A copy of Action Comics No 1, which features the debut appearance of Superman, sells for

a record $2.16 million during an online auction. Thu 8th

A police officer is shot dead on the campus of Virginia Tech, the

university where 32 people were killed in a mass shooting in 2007. After killing the police offiicer, the gunman, Ross Truett Ashley, turned the weapon on himself. Fri 9th

“It was a tough decision but the right one” David Cameron refuses to sign up

to an EU-wide treaty change to tackle the eurozone crisis, saying it is not in the UK’s interests.


Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria, introduces a tradition from his native Germany and installs a Christmas tree at Windsor Castle.

Michele Zagaria, 53, is arrested in



A woodcut picture of the Royal Family posing in front of their Christmas tree appears in the Illustrated London News, the world’s first illustrated newspaper. As of Christmas 1849, upper class British families start to emulate the Royal Family by putting up their own trees.

GODEY’S LADY’S BOOK 1850 f American newspaper Godey’s Lady’s

Book reprints the illustration, modified slightly by removing Albert’s moustache and Victoria’s tiara, in order to make the scene appear more American. The image circulates across the country, helping to popularise Christmas trees in the 31 states.

Sat 10th

Around 50,000 people march in Moscow to protest against alleged

election fraud by Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party. Sim Sim Hamara debuts on

Pakistani television. j‘Send in the Cookie Monster!’

Britain’s most successful Olympic sailor, Ben Ainslie, is disqualified from the world championships in Perth after he boards a TV boat to protest that it had impeded him during one of the races.

g 1866

Robert Jermain Thomas, a Welsh Protestant missionary, arrives in Korea on the USS General Sherman. He travels around the country, distributing Bibles, a crime punishable by decapitation.




i 11th Dec 2011

Christmas 2010


North Korean state-run website Uriminzokkiri threatens retaliation if the Christmas tree structure (now joined by two others) is lit on 23rd December as planned. Christmas celebrations are forbidden north of the ‘bamboo curtain’ and the government accuses the South of “psychological warfare through the gambit of lighting the towers.” The North threatens “unintended consequences” and a “sea of fire” if its neighbours go ahead with their illuminations.


19th Dec 2011

The South Korean government allows a Christian group to turn on thousands of lights on a 30-metre-high Christmas tree-shaped iron structure topped by a giant cross on a hill near the Demilitarised Zone, where it is visible from the major North Korean city of Kaesong.



It is announced that Kim Jong-Il, the Dear Leader of North Korea, has died. As a gesture of conciliation during the mourning period, South Korean Unification Minister Yu Woo-Ik bans the lighting of the Christmas tree towers.


Under the Japanese occupation of Korea, many Christians are executed for refusing to take part in emperorworship, leading to a strong identification between Christianity and Korean nationalism. After the Korean War and the division of the country, South Korea develops the largest Christian population by percentage in Asia.



2nd Sep 1866


The General Sherman is attacked and destroyed by the Korean army near Pyongyang. Thomas grabs his Bibles, jumps over the side of the boat and wades to the shore where he hands them to the screaming crowd while shouting “Jesus, Jesus”. He is killed. As Christianity starts to grow in Korea, many of the early members of the church use Bibles received from Thomas, who is seen as a martyr.


The first US missionaries start to land in Korea: hundreds of them will arrive in the following 20 years.







US President Benjamin Harrison unveils the first Christmas tree in the White House. The tradition becomes adopted across the States.


1882 1882


Korea and the US conclude a Treaty of Amity and Trade, which includes provisions for the protection of missionaries.


Edward H Johnson, president of the Edison Electric Illuminating Company of New York, creates the first Christmas tree lights and places them on a rotating tree, moved by an Edison dynamo. The illuminated tree is reported across the globe.

Dec Sun 11th

North Korea warns South Korea will face repercussions should it illuminate a Christmas tree near its border. j ‘The Butterfly Effect’

“Rick, I’ll tell you what, 10,000 bucks?”

Mitt Romney attempts to make a

bet about health care with rival Republican candidate, Texas governor Rick Perry. The size of the wager leads to multimillionaire Romney being accused of being out of touch with workingclass American people. Mon12th

Canada announces it is to become the first country to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, claiming the

country would face large penalties due to treaty violations if it remained a signatory.

“We’ve asked for it back. We’ll see how the Iranians respond”

President Barack Obama reveals he has asked Tehran to return a US drone aircraft that Iran claims it recently brought down in their territory. m 13th Dec Tue 13th

“No one returns the symbol of aggression to the party that sought secret and vital intelligence”

General Hossein Salami, deputy head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, refuses to return a US drone which was brought down in Iranian territory.

Welder Nordine Amrani, 33, opens fire in the Belgian city of Liege, killing at least four people and wounding more than 120. Video game ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’ becomes the fastest-selling entertainment product of all time, with $1 billion in sales in 16 days.

Breaking bad As two press agencies are caught out on a Mandela deathwatch, Alan Rutter looks into the murky world of pre-emptive news reporting. Illustrations: Vanessa Arnaud Thu 15th


hen the South African Times reported that Reuters and Associated Press (AP) had set up CCTV trained on the house of Nelson Mandela, anticipating the revered man’s death, there was outrage across the nation. Chieftainess Nokwanele Balizulu, who lives opposite Mandela’s house in Qunu, Eastern Cape province, had given permission for the cameras to be installed – but nevertheless the actions (which prompted a police investigation) were an afront to South African attitudes to death, and raised many questions about the ethics of such a vulture-like media deathwatch. The news agencies were unapologetic. “They are not surveillance cameras,” said AP spokesperson Paul Colford. “Along with other media, the AP has preparedness around Mr Mandela’s eventual passing. The AP cameras were not switched on and would only be used in the event of a major news story involving the former president. We had similar preparedness outside the Vatican ahead of Pope John Paul II’s passing.” One could argue that since Mandela’s eventual death is inevitable, the agencies have a responsibility to be ready to cover what will be a major news event. And the pressure to be first in the reporting of news is greater than ever. News agencies – referred to as ‘the wires’ by other news organisations that subscribe to their feeds and often barely rework their stories for publication or broadcast – rely on their ability to break stories to survive, and with vast networks of local journalists and stringers across the globe, they have dominated in their field for more than a century (AP was formed as a news

cooperative in 1846). But the digital age has brought with it new competition, from start-up news businesses to the personal reporting tools like Twitter that can turn anybody into a reporter. The death of Michael Jackson in June 2009 wasn’t broken by one of the big news agencies or organisations, but by celebrity gossip site (launched in December 2005 by Time Warner). Jackson died at 2.26pm Los Angeles time – TMZ posted the news at 2.44pm. Little over an hour after Amy Winehouse had died, she trended on Twitter to the extent that she was the subject of nearly 10 per cent of all tweets worldwide – 20 million people talking about her, before a single news organisation had managed to publish or broadcast a ‘breaking news’ snippet. In the face of this competition, it’s inevitable that the old-school agencies would want to prepare as much as possible for predictable events – leveraging their ability to provide depth of information, rather than just competing on speed. And since taxes are rarely juicy news, death (particularly of the elderly or unwell) is the other inevitability that can be pre-emptively researched. It’s accepted that obituaries are prepared in advance, as it’s unusual for anybody to do something in their last few days that renders the facts of their life up to that point redundant. Nevertheless, it can be embarrassing if this preparation is published early – as in 2003, when CNN inadvertedly posted to its website draft obituaries for seven major world figures (including Mandela, Fidel Castro, Ronald Reagan, Bob Hope and – rather unfairly, since he was only 62 and the serving vice president – Dick Cheney).


Eiffel Tower Paris Gustave Eiffel

Statue of Liberty New York Frédéric Bartholdi

Unisphere New York Gilmore D. Claark rke




Cat Barcelona Fernando Botero

The Thinker Paris Auguste Rodin

Topos V Barcelona Eduardo Chillida







*Contemporary unadjusted values


Scrapheap challenge

Giant Buddha of Wat Traimit Bangkok Artist unknown


Value information based on UK scrap prices from Mason Metals ( at time of press.

Marx-Engels Forum Monument Berlin Ludwig Engelhardt

As Barbara Hepworth’s bronze statue ‘Two Forms (Divided Circle)’ is stolen from its plinth in Dulwich Park, Will Coldwell directs the metal thieves towards some other treasures they might like to steal. n Gold n Iron n Copper n Steel n Bronze

Tue 20th




The Orbit London Anish Kapoor

Cloud Gate Chicago Anish Kapoor

Angel of the North Gateshead Antony Gormley







Dec Sun 25th

The Islamist group Boko Haram kills at least 39 people and injures

many more in a series of attacks on churches in Nigeria during Christmas prayers. The South Pole records its

warmest ever day with a top temperature of -12.3°C.

The group that hacked into Stratfor claims to have made

payments of over half a million dolllars to charities including

Save the Children using the credit card details of Stratfor’s clients. It says it will stop its actions if Bradley Manning, the serviceman detained over his alleged role in leaking government files to Wikileaks, is given a holiday feast “at a fancy restaurant of his choosing”. Mon26th

Two Forms (Divided Circle) London Barbara Hepworth



Little Dancer Aged Fourteen London, Paris, Washington DC Edgar Degas

Bust of Diego London Alberto Giacometti



(31KG OF BRONZE) LAST SOLD FOR: £13,300,000

The Boxing Day sales start. Despite a tube strike in London, Selfridges claims its busiest ever single hour of trade, taking more than £1.3 million.

On London’s Oxford Street,


18-year-old Seydou Diarrassouba dies after an allegedly gang-

related knife attack.

Brazil overtakes the UK to become the world’s sixth largest economy. Lancaster University student Anuj Bidve, 23, dies in Salford after being shot in the head in the

early hours of the morning. He was walking in the direction of Manchester city centre with nine fellow students when he was attacked.

William Burton, a Briton jailed in the Philippines in 1992 for attempting to smuggle six kilos of cannabis out of Manila, is

pardoned from a prison sentence which was due to run until 2032.

Burton, who was born with thalidomide-related physical problems, was pardoned on grounds of his diminishing health after a ‘Free Billy Burton’ campaign in the UK.

mourning kim jong-il in west london the salvation of american samoa's 31-0 football team DENIS MACSHANE ON CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS going undercover in homs baroness trumpington and the death of 'up yours' Every news story that mattered And a huge amount more


Delayed Gratification issue 5  
Delayed Gratification issue 5  

The latest issue of the Slow Journalism Magazine, covering October-December 2011.