Pick of the Press: The Times

The Times is a beautifully-designed newspaper, at least its first three pages, which – to allmediascotland's liking – includes its leader comments, on the inside front cover. It's very European in style. But while Europe pre-occupies the second of three comments – 'Peter Mandelson for EU Foreign Minister? Not such a Bad Idea' – the focus of the first is the UK. But in response to the Bank of England forecasting an improvement in the UK economy, the paper declines to get too carried away.

“The Government must address more aggressively the plight of those young people who have never had jobs and those manufacturing workers who once thought they had jobs for life,” it says.

But the SNP is unlikely to be so pleased with what greets them by the fifth page. At the bottom, all is relatively well: Angus Macleod reports First Minister, Alex Salmond, declining to predict a SNP victory at today's Glasgow North-east by-election. But above, a rather curious tale. Usually, there are six degrees of separation; here, it is a little less: a former researcher for Salmond once described a Muslim cleric as a “preacher of peace” and now that same cleric is being investigated by the FBI for alleged communication with an US soldier suspected of killing 13 of his colleagues in Texas last week.

It's a big paper – today running to over 100 pages – which means 'room to breathe' for writers and page designers, whether to report a new piece of medical equipment that can quickly and easily pick up signs of possible heart disease or to witness the Scottish village of Tyndrum poised, it seems, to enjoy a gold mining bonanza – the latter by Scotland-based writer, Mike Wade.

From Tyndrum to Afghanistan's Kabul and Tom Coghlan writes of the Taliban's sophisticated media operation; even if ideologically against 'modernity', it doesn't stop them exploiting the internet to the full. By contrast, a NATO-funded free newspaper gets used – according to a funny side panel – as take-away food wrapping, in industrial quantities. 

At the back, in the sports section, Giles Smith's take on TV considers broadcasters ESPN and its practice of post-match football interviews involving looking at TV replays of controversial incidents, including 'diving'. Except that, oddly, on Monday evening, the TV was 'tidied away' by the time Liverpool manager, Rafael Benitez, pitched up to comment on allegations one of his players had faked a foul while winning his side a penalty.

And finally, since this is the first occasion the Times has been reviewed, as part of the new-look allmediascotland, let the site put its 'cards on the table': Matthew Parris is right up there as one of the best columnists around, the affection no doubt favourably coloured by his appearance, for free, as guest speaker at a dinner hosted by allmediascotland several years ago.

And guess what? He was correspondence clerk to Margaret Thatcher before her General Election win of 1979. And so, he can write with not only wit and wisdom, but some authority too about Prime Ministers and their letter-writing. He ends by saying he has sympathy for Brown, while also wondering what prevented staff from spotting the misspelling, in a letter of condolence, so spectacularly seized upon these last few days by Times' sister title, the Sun.

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