In the past week the UK national media have run over 150 news stories and comment pieces about seagulls.
The seagull has well and truly unseated the false widow spider of recent years to be the media's scare story of choice for the summer. To put the numbers into some perspective, at peak hysteria the false widow spider only generated 54 pieces of national coverage in its busiest week.
The Times, downplaying the media's role in whipping up seagull-related hysteria, has taken pause to ponder the nature of this "primeval dread", suspecting it might be innate in our psyches:
"Somewhere, deep down, we fear nature’s revenge. That fear discharges, irrationally, because it’s there and we’ll never get rid of it. Seagulls are not, commonsense informs us, a real risk to mankind but this year we fear them."
Others have been less thoughtful in their coverage:
The Daily Star, a long-time fan of animal scare stories, leads the way in reporting the "seagull terror" from above with stories of "seagulls waging war on mutant rats" to claims that "vicious seagulls will attack and kill babies".
It should be stressed no babies have been killed. In fact, the reality to date has often been a lot less shocking. While the Daily Mail and others did report that a pensioner and a four-year-old boy both needed medical attention after being pecked by the "seagull menace" and a couple of pets have been killed, the Star also informs us that a family was "forced to flee a guest house when a plague of noisy seagulls kept them awake all night". That may have been frustrating but it doesn't feel like a national news story.
In the main the victims have reportedly been ice creams, pasties and sausage rolls but that hasn't discouraged the media from setting about the story like a flock of hungry seagulls mobbing a discarded chip packet.
It is a situation which has even brought journalists into direct contact with the "bloodthirsty", "terror-inducing" menaces. The Telegraph reported a "particularly sadistic" seagull attacked one of its journalists and a photographer as they left an ice cream shop in Brighton.
Everything is war as the headline writers blow up the significance of almost every thought and discussion following Thursday's shock result.
Those papers who championed the Conservatives and David Cameron are also no doubt keen to make him seem a dynamic and thrusting, decisive man-of-action.
When Cameron appointed a Culture Secretary who has previously criticised the television licence, it was WAR ON THE BBC.
And when Cameron said he plans to sit down and discuss terms with the EU, it was WAR ON EU.
Which all raises the question of 'war, what is it good for?'. Selling newspapers, they hope.
The Telegraph has sent a panicked email overnight to its entire marketing database urging recipients to vote Conservative. It looks as though editor Chris Evans may have worried that he hasn't quite done enough to protect the papers' proprietors readers from Ed Miliband:
Presumably all the "frenzied" "distraction" about an "SNP surge" would include recent Telegraph headlines such as "Labour writes off three quarters of Scottish seats after SNP surge", "What does the SNP surge look like up close?" and "SNP surge means time is running out for Ed Miliband".
Earlier in the election campaign the Conservatives and the Telegraph worked up a story suggesting business leaders from across Britain had grouped together and thrown their weight behind the Conservatives in the form of a letter to the Telegraph.
Of course the letter was written by the Conservatives, not 100 business leaders, and many of the business leaders who were asked to put their names to it had very close ties to the party - including a number of Tory peers. It really told us nothing more than Conservative supporters, donors, party members and peers will be voting Conservative in May, though the Telegraph tried to work it up into something more significant than that.
Now they're at it again. This time the Conservative party has corralled 5,000 supporters who it claims are "small business owners" into putting their names to yet another "exclusive letter to the Telegraph", written by the Tories and handed over to the Telegraph to publish.
And again the Telegraph has played ball and is reporting this as a significant front page news story. The paper suggests the Conservative PR stunt is a "boost for David Cameron" (as all Conservative PR stunts are surely meant to be) and calls it "a major intervention" as though it was in any way spontaneous, unexpected or independent.
UPDATE: The problems with this contrived list/non-story don't end there. Alex Andreou has done a great job of aggregating many of the issues which have been highlighted throughout Monday, from the large number of duplicates on the list to the fact a great many signatories clearly aren't really small business owners, including waiters, PAs, charity workers, office assistants, office managers and even some retired people. The list also includes one Conservative club and a handful of Conservative candidates. (Read Andreou's full dissection of the list here). Clearly nobody at the Telegraph checked the list of names before publishing - they just did what they were told - nor did the Conservative party PR person who handed them the copy to publish.
So now we know. Ed Miliband has more kitchens than Nigel Farage has testicles.
And people say political journalism is dumbing down.
Yes, it turns out Farage has only got one ball which will do nothing to end some unwelcome comparisons to famous fascists from history. For good measure he's also written a book outlining his vision of a far-right revolution.
The book, entitled The Purple Revolution (which sounds more like a Prince tribute act), is being serialised by The Telegraph. So far we've learned two things: 1) One of Farage's testicles once swelled to the size of a lemon before it was removed, 2) The Telegraph certainly isn't shy about sending repetitive tweets.
Here's just a selection of their tweets from Saturday:
The "revolution" in question apparently began last year when Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless became the MPs for Clacton and Rochester and Strood. The previous MPs in those constituencies, of course, being Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless.
The title and even the design of Farage's book also suggest it is in part a response to stand-up comedian Russell Brand, who in December last year described Farage as "a pound shop Enoch Powell" during one of the UKIP leader's many appearances on Question Time:
Ed Miliband meanwhile, it has been revealed, is the proud owner of not one but TWO kitchens in his North London home.
Miliband's surplus of kitchens came to light after the Daily Mail's Sarah Vine (the wife of Tory chief whip Michael Gove, lest we forget) criticised Miliband's kitchen after it appeared on a BBC programme.
"Surely that can’t really be Ed and Justine’s kitchen?" wrote Vine, rambling to such an extent she almost stumbled accidentally upon some truth. "I hope for their sake it’s their utility room and some bossy spin doctor has shoved them in there to ...bolster Ed’s man-o’-the-people image."
Vine is on fairly thin ice with such kitchen-based snobbery, as a comment on the Mail's website pointed out:
You can remind yourself what else Michael Gove claimed on expenses here.
Also wading into kitchengate was Times journalist and Miliband family-friend Jenni Russell who pointed out the kitchen he was filmed in was just a "functional kitchenette", not to be confused with the Milibands' main kitchen which is "lovely" and definitely big enough to sit in (though possibly too big to be filmed in).
Russell's explanation of the differences between Miliband's various kitchens perhaps qualifies as a case of "with friends like that..." because Ed certainly doesn't need any more enemies right now. He's even got more enemies than kitchens.
And his enemies' enemy is clearly understatement.
"No kitchen since the Borgias has ever produced anything so toxic," wrote Robert Mendick of the Telegraph, with the same paper declaring in a separate article: "Ed Miliband's two kitchens expose the plastic inauthenticity of the Labour leader".
As the Telegraph's Michael Deacon noted of the inevitable and plentiful criticisms:
Poor old Ed Miliband. They're throwing the kitchen sinks at him— Michael Deacon (@MichaelPDeacon) March 13, 2015
For more 'Election Watch', see:
Election Watch: The leaders’ debate debacle
Election Watch: "You! Outside! Now!"
Election Watch: The Express and Farage love-in
Election Watch: Clowns and a hybrid car crash
Election Watch: Byker gang targets Miliband
Election Watch: Tory balls and a little pink bus
Election Watch: It's going to be a long election
It seems the Telegraph is intent on ignoring the widely accepted best practice advice on what to do when in a hole.
Following an attack on the Guardian on Friday, the paper has now launched a shocking attack on News UK, publisher of The Times and The Sun, bringing up the tragic suicides of two News UK employees purely, it would seem, to score points about the commercial pressures within the company. The Telegraph includes this detail in an article which claims the lines have become blurred between News UK's editorial and commercial teams.
The Telegraph's attacks on its competitors follow the very public resignation of its chief political commentator Peter Oborne who made a series of allegations - strongly denied by the Telegraph - about the extent to which the paper had let commercial decisions cloud its own editorial judgement.
A number of competitors were quick to throw stones but whether they were doing so from the safe moral high ground or from inside a glass house, the Telegraph should have focused on its own reputation. Not least because trying to drag others into the mire only serves to reinforce the idea the Telegraph is in that mire already. If the playground taught us anything it's that a defence of 'but they did it too' is no defence at all.
The paper has made a series of increasingly poor decisions at a time when its editorial judgement is under the spotlight. First came a petulant leader column. Then a rather desperate attack on the Guardian. Now the Telegraph claims News UK's creative content director "said journalists...had to get their "hands dirty" in order to please advertisers". Those comments were apparently made during an on the record interview about 'native advertising' - the paid-for editorial-like content which sits alongside editorial. While a divisive subject which blurs the lines between advertising and editorial, it is still very different to what Oborne alleged the Telegraph was doing.
But trying to gain mileage out of deaths at a competitor represents an unfathomable low.
However wounded the Telegraph's pride was by Oborne's public resignation the damage the company is now inflicting upon its own reputation is arguably far worse.
The Telegraph has responded to claims its editorial coverage was influenced by advertisers by seeking some dirt to dish on its competitors. It appears rather than focus on its own reputation the Telegraph has taken the unusual decision to try to just drag others down too.
On Friday The Telegraph claimed the Guardian is now "facing questions" over claims it changed a story about Iraq, as a result of a stipulation from Apple that its advertising should not appear next to negative stories.
It's difficult to imagine anybody who gets drawn into this unseemly spat, whatever the truth, emerging with much credit.
Peter Oborne, until today chief political commentator at the Telegraph, has left the paper claiming it has become too beholden to advertisers and too dumbed down.
It seems perceived bias in the paper's coverage of the HSBC scandal was the last straw for Oborne.
"The Telegraph's recent coverage of HSBC amounts to a form of fraud on its readers," Oborne told website OpenDemocracy. "It has been placing what it perceives to be the interests of a major international bank above its duty to bring the news to Telegraph readers. There is only one word to describe this situation: terrible."
As well as detailing his issues with the Telegraph's coverage of HSBC, Oborne claimed other major advertisers have also been given too easy a ride.
It must be said the Telegraph "utterly refutes any allegation" that editorial decisions have been swayed by who buys advertising.
In a stinging, 3,000 word parting shot, Oborne criticised the paper for dumbing down its coverage. He cited a mix up over "deer stalking" versus "deer hunting" and confusion over Prince Edward's proper title as examples.
"Stories seemed no longer judged by their importance, accuracy or appeal to those who actually bought the paper," wrote Oborne. "The more important measure appeared to be the number of online visits."
Oborne was particularly affronted by "a story about a woman with three breasts" which was published despite the paper allegedly knowing it to be false.
Oborne's wordy public resignation follows in the footsteps of Daily Star journalist Rich Peppiatt who, back in 2011, penned a public letter of resignation to proprietor Richard Desmond branding his newspaper "a cascade of shit".
Three things you can count on during the General Election campaign are PR gaffes, silly news stories and journalists travelling around the country using various modes of transport.
This week, those three collided as Channel 4's Michael Crick took a pink Cadillac on the road in search of Labour's little pink bus.
The little pink bus is touring the country as part of a campaign to get more women to vote.
Because women love pink.
And if that doesn't work, Labour has a plan B which involves sticking a ribbon on it and painting some puppies, unicorns and ponies on the side.
The decision to woo women with a pink bus certainly attracted a mix of criticism and derision this week and a level of media coverage that was probably disproportionate to whatever offence it really caused.
However, while some cried "patronising" and others cried "massive over-reaction" it does seem odd that nobody in Labour's hapless PR team could see how this would inevitably backfire at a time when the media knives are out for the party and everybody is looking to see the awkward and the ludicrous in all they do.
But undeterred by accusations of being patronising, Harman headed off in her little pink bus in search of some women to talk to in kitchens and supermarkets.
Inevitably some have suggested men are the real victims in all of this. Overlooked and forgotten about once more. So perhaps we should expect to see Ed Balls touring the country in a tank that plays the Match of the Day theme and fires out cans of lager.
Not to be outdone by Labour's little pink PR snafu, the Conservatives staged a glittering £15,000 per table PR horror show / fundraising ball this week where super rich party supporters were given the opportunity to get their credit cards out and ingratiate themselves with the Tory hierarchy.
This festival of fat-cattery included an auction where donors keen to curry favour could bid for lots such as a copy of the budget, signed by George Osborne.
Imagine waking up with a stinking hangover and the dread sense you did something really stupid last night, only to remember you paid a fortune for a copy of the budget, signed by George Osborne.
For most normal people there would be no coming back from that. Even once you’d destroyed the evidence by shredding it and burning the receipt and credit card bill and moved house and changed your name, the shame would never leave you. You'd never be able to see George Osborne on television without being wracked with a crippling sense of guilt and self-loathing.
"Why do you leave the room to go and sit in the kitchen sobbing whenever George Osborne comes on television?" a family member might ask, if that didn't actually seem a pretty reasonable reaction.
Or how about shoe shopping with Theresa May?
No me either.
But apparently that lot raised £17,500. That's right, somebody paid £17,500 to go shoe shopping with the Home Secretary though presumably they were more interested in ‘talking shop’ than talking shopping. After all, if they were just interested in shoe shopping they could have spent their £17,500 far more wisely.
£17,500 would buy a lot of shoes.
The auction is really a mechanism for packaging up large donations to the party while avoiding some of the ugliness of just handing over a wad of cash with a nod and a wink. As a fundraising exercise it was no doubt a massive success but from a PR point of view it will surely have served only to reinforce many voters' suspicions about the party.
It's almost as if they sat around brainstorming the worst possible idea for an event.
"What can we do to show people how little we care about what they think and how far removed our lives are from their dismal existence?"
"What about a £15,000 per table ball?"
"With an auction!"
"Where people shell out thousands for relatively worthless items, like tea with Julian Fellowes or some roast chicken with Michael Gove."
The Tory party gets to bank the cash, the donor gets to bank a favour and somebody gets to eat chicken with Michael Gove.
Not all the lots fell into the 'cash for companionship' with a cabinet minister bracket. There was an opportunity to shoot some pheasants (which was definitely not a typo, apparently), an opportunity to shoot some deer and also the chance to own a JCB digger for anybody whose gardener needs a bit of help with the weeding on the country estate. Bidders could also pay for the chance to kick a poor person down a flight of stairs, burn down a food bank or close a hospital of their choosing.
And finally, The Sun which has often led the criticism of Miliband and Co. last week dispatched a colleague to the foothills of the Himalayas after the Labour leader had joked that there may still be some "yak farmers in Nepal" who haven't yet seen the infamous photos of him fighting a losing battle against a bacon sandwich.
So The Sun put paid to that:
Following the atrocities in Paris this week, conducted by a small group of people claiming to be Islamic extremists, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has waded in to blame ALL muslims:
Perhaps Murdoch actually mistakenly believes 1.6 billion people are to blame for the despicable actions of a few. Or perhaps he is trying to inflame racial and religious tensions in the misguided belief that anger, acrimony and terror are good for newspaper sales and television viewing figures. Either way the media tycoon has faced fierce criticism over his ill-considered comments and may yet find some colleagues, investors and customers neither share nor appreciate his opinions.
According to The Guardian:
That's right. If we learned anything during the whole of 2014, it's that ankles 'were the new sideboob'. This ends a years-long search by a host of media outlets, such as the Guardian, Daily Mail and Evening Standard, who have all been seeking the 'new sideboob' (even if they can't agree whether it is one word or two).
Back in March 2013 the Daily Mail thought they had finally found the new sideboob:
But clearly it wasn't to be. Just a few weeks later the London Evening Standard seemed convinced 'side butt' was the new sideboob:
However, 'braless' clearly fell short of such a lofty billing and the trail for 'the new sideboob' went cold for nearly a year. It wasn't until July 2014 when the Daily Mail thought it may have ended this journalistic quest for the Holy Grail:
'Pelvage' is apparently a portmanteau which blends 'pelvis' and 'cleavage'. But what it definitely isn't is 'the new sideboob' because, as the Guardian has finally confirmed, ankles are the new sideboob.
We now wait to hear what the new ankles are.
The Times proclaiming Nigel Farage 'Briton of the Year' certainly got the reaction the paper was no doubt looking for. Others will likely go to town on how Farage has shaken up British politics as we near the general election. But every media outlet making such claims is not only being disingenuous but, in the case of some, pretty modest about their own contributions.
The Times wrote:
"Mr Farage set the political agenda for 2014 and will play a prominent role in the election year to come."
But Farage hasn't set the agenda. He has capitalised upon an agenda some sections of the media have been pushing through scaremongering, deliberate distortions and some wilful misrepresentation of facts and figures for many years. Animosity towards immigrants and other minorities was being successfully whipped up long before Farage told us how uncomfortable foreigners on public transport make him feel, or how he finds the idea of Romanian neighbours troubling.
And if he seemed to be steering that agenda in 2014, then it is was only because he was given a platform to do so.
Times owner Rupert Murdoch wined and dined Farage, Richard Desmond, owner of the Daily Star and Express reportedly made a £300,000 donation to UKIP and other media outlets have gladly cultivated Farage as a thorn in the side of mainstream politics. Some clearly wanted to give an increasingly unpopular - and necessarily more distant - David Cameron a bloody nose over everything from the Leveson Inquiry to the equal marriage bill and talking up UKIP's threat to a too-liberal-for-their-liking Tory leadership was an effective way of doing so. Other outlets have obviously welcomed a willing figurehead for some of their uglier beliefs and opinions while some were no doubt just chasing the ratings his controversy can deliver. It may be car crash television when Farage is on but even the BBC knows people tune in to watch.
The irony of all of this is the supporters drawn to UKIP believe Farage is anti-establishment; a political force that 'big media' cannot silence or tame. But the truth is Farage is a plaything of big media and as long as they give him a stage he'll happily keep dancing to their tune.
These were the top 10, most-read posts from 2014, as clicked on by readers of The Media Blog:
1. Mail's foreign nurse claim wasn't even close
Are four out of five new nurses foreign as the Mail claimed? Not even nearly.
2. The Sun's not-so-secret Pizza Express secret
The Sun made a big old fuss about something that anybody who cared could have found out months earlier.
4. Is North Korea faking a World Cup victory?
The media love a good story about North Korea doing something ridiculous, whether it's true or not, Part 1.
5. Politics goes beyond parody...
The events of the Rochester and Strood by-election reimagined as scenes from The Thick Of It.
6. Who is the man with the Nik Nak-coloured member?
Where do the Sunday Sport find the people who feature in their ridiculous stories?
7. Making a dog's dinner of the news
The media love a good story about North Korea doing something ridiculous, whether it's true or not, Part 2.
8. "Exotic" or "Erotic", both are wrong
A terrible typo wasn't the worst thing about this article...
9. BBC bashed for "lavish" lambing largesse
There was lots of BBC bashing through 2014. Like this...
10. Telegraph bashes BBC for doing its research
Business Insider has published an interesting review of how newspapers are fairing as they transition from the paper-based world they knew so well into a digital age which so clearly still flummoxes some of them.
The Guardian and the Mail lead the way with big numbers their reward for giving content away free, though questions will always persist about the sustainability and margins of a free model.
However, Business Insider is more concerned about the rest of the press pack. Of the Telegraph, it says "the entire organization is struggling with the transition to digital".
The Telegraph's metered paywall, which lets us have a few stories free per month before kicking in is a clumsy, neither-nor sort of measure, the logic of which I have struggled to understand since it was introduced.
The problem with it is that, by chance, I only seem to hit the paywall while in the process of clicking on something I can find for free elsewhere - a sports report, a piece of news from the wires or a piece of news written up from a press release. Any inclination to sign up is quashed by the fact I'll be able to get what I'm looking for elsewhere, for free.
If the Telegraph really wants to have a paywall which is triggered at a given point, it would surely be better served linking that trigger to types of content rather than just picking an arbitrary monthly limit. Give the commodity stuff away free, tag it to not trigger the paywall, but make people sign-up for the unique stuff. For example, I enjoy the political sketches of Michael Deacon but as he doesn't produce enough each month to trigger the paywall across the multiple devices I use to access the Telegraph website, I get to read it all for free. But Sod's Law says the paywall would activate as I clicked on, for example, the Telegraph's write-up of a Rightmove survey about the best places to live in Britain (St Ives, apparently). In that case I'd easily be able to find the article elsewhere:
The Times and The Sun meanwhile are toiling away behind their far less ambiguous paywalls. Business Insider is critical of the dramatic fall in online readers that the paywall brought about at both titles, but that drop will not have come as a surprise to News UK and the company remains very upbeat about the progress it is making. As reported last month, there are now 225,000 subscribers signed up to The Sun's digital offering, with the majority paying £7.99 per month. Though as an aside The Sun did this week launch a site covering the Millies - its annual awards for military service men and women - with articles which sit outside the paywall. However, News UK says this was a one off for the Millies and it has no immediate plans to put other content outside the paywall.
The bleakest prognosis is reserved for the Express which Business Insider reports is "losing the war on all fronts" with print sales in a similar decline to many of its rivals but web traffic that is considerably lower. In October this year, the Mail Online got almost as many people onto its website in a single day (14.4 million) as the Express managed in the whole month (16.4 million). The According to ABCe figures, the Express gets less than 10 per cent of the monthly traffic enjoyed by its nearest editorial neighbour.
The Express's response seems to have been an attempt to ape the Daily Mail's infamous 'sidebar of shame' with much of its online content but its efforts are clearly failing to pull in the same volume of readers.
Polling organisation YouGov has launched a ‘Profiler’ service which slices and dices all the information it holds on its panel of survey respondents, such as what newspaper they read, to provide detailed consumer profiles.
For example, YouGov has more than 3,000 Sun readers on its survey panel and by cross referencing that detail with everything else that might differentiate them from their peers, the data tells us they are more likely to be dog-owning, Vauxhall-driving men from East Anglia in their 40s who like pork chops, enjoy darts and horse racing and think "UKIP are just saying what everybody else is thinking". (They also look a bit like a short David Walliams according to the illustration which accompanies YouGov's dashboard of information.)
Meanwhile, based on data on more than 9,000 Guardian readers, YouGov is able to tell us Guardian readers are more likely to be a well-off bunch of London-based leftie cricket fans who enjoy cycling to Waitrose to buy ethically-sourced antipasti, braised endive and fair trade aubergine parmigiana.
Which sounds about right.
And what about Daily Mail readers? The data tells us they’re more likely to be right-wing women in their 60s who live on the south coast, like Cliff Richard, Downton Abbey and Marks & Spencer and think "this country is going to the dogs".
Telegraph readers are rich, Volvo-driving old men trying not to get vichyssoise soup or lobster down their Charles Tyrwhitt shirts, while Daily Mirror readers are apparently more likely to "think the world is controlled by a secretive elite", in between shopping at Aldi and watching Coronation Street.
Express readers eat Morrisons meat pies, live in Yorkshire and describe themselves as occasionally intolerant while readers of the Daily Star like ice cream and boxing. Independent readers are a youthful bunch and Metro readers think they're funny and spend more time than most looking at ads on buses and bus stops.
The Telegraph is walking something of a fine line, trying to balance two causes it feels strongly about: supporting the 'No' campaign in the Scottish referendum and doing the BBC down at every opportunity.
The problem is, these two causes are hardly complementary, not least because the 'Yes' campaign is also intent on criticising the BBC for alleged bias in its campaign coverage. But The Telegraph was powerless to resist the suggestion the BBC had handpicked an episode of Dad's Army in an attempt to undermine the 'Yes' campaign. The paper quotes an unnamed 'Yes' campaigner:
“A total of 80 episodes of Dad’s Army were made by the corporation – and which one does it choose to show on the Saturday ahead of the vote?... The one in which Frazer tells Mainwaring that he can run the platoon better than him, is put in charge and then makes a total mess of things. Thank you very much, Auntie Beeb."
Fans of Dad's Army may point out Captain Mainwaring was hardly portrayed as a great leader either, prone as he was to blundering from calamity to calamity in every episode. They might also point out it was supposed to be a comedy, not a documentary.
The article then quotes one of the few surviving cast members of Dad's Army, adding his two-penneth in support of a 'No' vote:
"Frank Williams, who plays the Rev Timothy Farthing in the series, doesn’t believe that the BBC timed the episode to make a point, but he says that he is not himself in favour of Scottish independence."
For which Williams was thanked with a plug for his one-man-show.
According to the Telegraph, the Queen has "broken her silence" and made a "hugely significant intervention" in the Scottish independence debate.
So what did she do?
According to the Telegraph the "hugely significant" moment happened while the Queen was making small talk with some members of the public outside a church service in Balmoral:
"The Queen has broken her silence about the potential break-up of the United Kingdom by warning Scots to think "very carefully about the future" before casting their votes in the independence referendum... It is understood a well-wisher joked they were not going to mention the referendum, in response to which she remarked: "You have an important vote on Thursday... I hope people will think very carefully about the future."
So the Queen wasn't asked her thoughts on the referendum but seeing as it had been brought up she decided to play it safe with the kind of non-statement used by those trying to say nothing while apparently saying something. "I hope people will think very carefully about the future" is as safe and as reasonable as it is non-committal. But despite the Queen's caution, the Telegraph adds:
"Buckingham Palace insiders insisted her remarks were politically neutral but on Sunday night they were being viewed as the clearest sign yet she hopes for a No vote on Thursday."
It should be said, it is those who would like the Queen to come out in favour of a 'No' vote who have applied that interpretation. A case of hearing what they want to hear perhaps.
Taking things to even more tenuous lengths, the Telegraph thought it relevant to add that the Queen was leaving a church "service that had included a prayer asking God "to save us from false choices"".
The Telegraph has certainly been doing what it can to help support the 'No' campaign but some of its efforts have certainly looked increasingly desperate. Its Sunday edition carried a bizarre piece suggesting a 'Yes' vote would be an affront to dead soldiers.
Rona Fairhead, the former chief executive of the Financial Times Group and a non-executive director at HSBC and Pepsi has been named the new head of the BBC Trust. So how did the Sunday Telegraph report the appointment of such an accomplished figure in the worlds of business and media on its front page...
I suspect you'd be hard pressed to find a reference to a male chief executive, chairman - or any male employee in fact - whose headline achievements are distilled down to how many children they have.
For example, in a story published on the Telegraph's website on Sunday, we were told 'Sir Mike Rake becomes RAC chairman'. Not only was there no mention of his marital status or the number of children he has in the headline, it wasn't even mentioned in the article. How on earth are we meant to judge his business credentials if we don't know how many kids he has? (For the record he has four, which the Telegraph could easily have found on the CBI website had they wanted to).
Daily Mail: 'Women, know your place'