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The Editor's View April 07


John Jenkins

John Jenkins' monthly column from Writers' Forum magazine

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Check out the newly-published collection The Best of Writers' Forum for a collection of useful articles.


Memorable recordings. . . pay cut for authors. . . the worst of The Times. . . piracy in India and China

IT APPEARS that every year the American Library of Congress

The national library of the United States, which offers a massive amount of information easily available, including details about copyright registration.

selects 25 of the most significant audio works to be preserved for posterity in a national archive. The choice marks a lively subject for debate and nobody could quarrel with some of the choices - Roosevelt’s post-Pearl Harbour speech '...a day that will live in infamy... the righteous might of the American people'.

I was not so sure about including Mick Jagger and No Satisfaction but delighted to see Black Bottom Stomp by Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot peppers.

Which leads us to musing on what would be our choice? Try it at your next dinner party, coffee morning or writers’ circle. Here’s my top ten. I’ve cheated because some were never recorded. Churchill’s Never Have so many...The Sermon on the Mount... Burton’s recording of Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas... Ken Wolstenholme’s final five minutes of England triumph in the 1966 Soccer World Cup, any recording of Chopin by Rubinstein, Michael Foot at a CND rally in Trafalgar Square (sorry I don’t have the date but it was almost seditious), Olivier as Henry V before Agincourt, Benny Goodman’s recording of The Sunny Side of the Street, Kennedy’s Inauguration Address and any aria from Tosca by Maria Callas.

* * *

CENSORSHIP is all around - all of it invidious. It was interesting to read Brian Viner in the Independent, admitting that before a proposed interview with the Chelsea and England footballer Frank Lampard, he was told that "Frank or Frank’s people would need to approve every word and even the headline before publication." Why? "Because we are re-positioning Frank," was the serious reply.
Viner to his and the Independent’s credit, told them what to do with the offer.

* * *

PUBLIC Relations, spin doctoring if you are in politics, is a peculiar beast. I should know, I once had a PR agency. The Orange Prize for Fiction is now going to be known as the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction.
That should be easy to get in a headline.

* * *

HERE in Bournemouth, which has the happiest citizens in the UK, we have one of the new universities. It has established a good reputation in the media section and has just released the results of a survey which shows that authors’ earnings are in decline.

They surveyed 25,000 authors in England and Germany (don’t ask) and it showed that 10% of authors get 50% of the money earned from publishing. Only 20% of authors earn all their income from writing and only 15% receive anything for work published on-line.

* * *

REMEMBER that famous introduction to The Tale of Two Cities by Dickens... the best of times, the worst of times. Well here is the best of The Times and the worst of The Times. In Times 2 dated March 9th there was a beautiful picture of a day-old baby elephant with its mother at the Elephant Conservation Centre in Thailand.

It was the sort of picture which puts a smile on your face for the rest of the day. The caption was perfection.
"Scuse me," said the elephant’s child, "but my nose is badly out of shape and I am waiting for it to shrink."

"Then you will have to wait a long time," said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake. "Some people do not know what is good for them."
from Rudyard Kipling’s The Elephant’s Child.

Now for the Worst of The Times. The lead to page 14 was speculation on a publication date for the diaries of spinmeister Alastair Campbell, so long the manipulator of news from No 10. The deal was said to be worth more than £1million. Headline over the story?

Secret dairy of Alistair Campbell to hit shelves soon after Blair quits. I suppose you could call it milking the job for all it was worth.

* * *

ONCE upon a time you could never get a rouble out of Russia which pirated the works of western-based authors.

Now a new Parliamentary committee is to investigate claims that India and China are the bad guys. Piracy is big business with £500 million lost in pirated sales in India.

America is joining in the protest so there may yet be some action. Of course, many of our publishers take jobs away from British printers and place them in India - just as BT transfers jobs out of the UK to the sub-continent. Does the word mugs come to mind?


John Jenkins, Publisher, Writers' Forum


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© Writers International Ltd 2007. Reproduced from Writers' Forum magazine by kind permission of the editor.