Heffer Stampedes as Flat Earth Newsgate left open

Simon Heffer’s RSS-ready style guide notes distracted Media Monkey last week – and well they might.

But not, I would argue, because they shed light on the inner workings of a man long since morphed into a self-parody of everything wrong with the English public school system.

Though the thought of Heffer slowly braising Telegraph staff with these modern world-weary missives is vaguely amusing, they do raise two important issues in the wider context of where news is heading.

First off, isn’t there something slightly incongruous about a 19th Century stuckist like Heffer publishing conventions established for printed media via RSS?

Of course print- and online- styleguides aren’t mutually exclusive (certainly not in terms of basic grammar), but perhaps when it comes to marrying searchability to hard-copy, Heffer might have a word with his Communities Editor Shane Richmond, Communities Editor of Telegraph.co.uk, who knows a thing or two about how journalism is already changing in this regard.

Secondly, I spotted an intriguing quote in his latest diktat – a public disclaimer of sorts, for many of the horrid mistakes which blight his life (and no doubt those of his readers), namely:

It seems that many of the style errors in the paper are in stories based on agency copy. The agencies we use do not follow our style book. It is therefore crucial that the desk staff or reporters who use these stories ensure that they are style compliant before sending them to the subs.

In these days of shrinking newsrooms and booming churnalism, it is heartening to know that The Heff is adding value to copy his readers can pick up from a thousand other sources by ensuring the ‘i’s are dotted and the ‘t’s crossed.

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