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November 21 2011

Guardian wins people's choice award for excellence in disability journalism

Judges praise 'thoughtful, entertaining, rigorous and enlightened' coverage of Guardian series on disability and the arts

The Guardian's "outstanding" coverage of disability issues was recognised on Sunday night when it picked up the first ever People's Choice award for journalistic excellence.

The publicly-nominated Ability Media International award, created by the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability, recognises "creatively excellent work that has either been produced by disabled people or promotes a greater understanding of disability issues".

The judges praised the Guardian for its "thoughtful, entertaining, rigorous and enlightened" coverage of issues facing disabled people in a series of pieces about disability and the arts.

The award was presented at a star-studded ceremony at London Studios, attended by UK media and arts luminaries including Downton Abbey actor Dame Maggie Smith, childrens TV pioneer Anna Home and filmmaker Mike Leigh.

Jane Jutsum, Leonard Cheshire Disability Innovative Projects director and co-organiser of the AMI awards, said: "The Guardian has an impressive record in its coverage of disability issues. Its features and news coverage are thoughtful, entertaining, rigorous and enlightened and demonstrate the inclusion and journalistic responsibility not always apparent in our national press."

The Guardian's editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, said: "Diversity is a central part of what we are trying to do at the Guardian. I hope we are at the forefront of allowing a range of voices in, getting other points of view and raising issues of vital importance to people who previously weren't heard. That is why it makes me very proud to receive this AMI Award."

Ability Media is an initiative by Leonard Cheshire Disability aimed at giving disabled and disadvantaged people access to all forms of digital media training, providing a springboard into the industry.


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June 09 2011

12 September 2005: The launch of the Berliner Guardian

The launch of the new Berliner format sees the Guardian become the UK's first full-colour national newspaper and the first UK national newspaper to adopt this size.


Click on the article to read the full piece by Alan Rusbridger


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June 01 2011

E Hamilton West obituary

Photographer with the Guardian for 26 years, whose career spanned glass plate and digital

His byline was always E Hamilton West, which led some readers to think he had a touch of blue blood, but Ted West, who has died aged 78, was a member of a more refined aristocracy. He was a press photographer for more than 40 years, the last 26 of which were spent at the Guardian, a career that stretched from the days of plate cameras and glass negatives to the beginnings of digital photography.

He was born in Dulwich and remained a south Londoner all his life. His father, Richard West, died before his birth, and his mother, Marie, later married Horace Hamilton. The blitz disrupted Ted's education at Haberdashers' Aske's school, and, after several near misses, he was evacuated.

Ted had dreams of becoming a journalist and, at the age of 15, he took a job as a messenger on the London Evening Standard, moving on to become a darkroom assistant. This was before the days of film, when photographers with their 5x4 MPPs and Speed Graphic cameras would travel to a job with eight double dark slides (sheet film holders) made of glass in a pack slung over their shoulder. The cameras would be set in advance at a speed of 1/250th second; an aperture of f-8 and the lens at two or three yards. The slides took several seconds to change, so a cameraman frequently had only one chance at a picture. It was this equipment that Ted used when, on his Saturdays off, he began to cover football matches and tried to sell his pictures to photographic agencies. One of those agencies, Barratt's, gave him his first job as a photographer.

In 1962 he began working for the tough and demanding John Lacey at Central Press Photos. The young Ted, returning with his exposed film, would nervously await Lacey's yelled acerbic comments from the floor above. It was perhaps fortunate that he gained the support and friendship of the older and more experienced Denis Aulds, known to Ted as "Squire Aulds". They shared a car, taking it in turns to travel to jobs. Sometimes Ted would act as Denis's runner and watch in increasing alarm as Denis waited until the last moment before pressing the shutter. From Denis, he learned about straightforwardness and simplicity. The experience of these agency days never left him and informed his sense that you only needed one picture to tell a story.

In 1970 the picture editor John Pilkington offered Ted a job on the Guardian. In those days, the newspaper had terrible half-tone reproduction which presented real challenges to the photographers. Nevertheless, they were encouraged to go out and think differently from the rest of the pack, and Ted loved the opportunities that this offered. In the evening, Pilkington would quietly pass Ted a note saying: "Go and have a look at that tomorrow – see what you can make of it." The next day, Ted would return with his straightforward and telling images. They lacked pretentiousness or photographic artifice, spoke for themselves as pictures, and, in their way, helped to ground a newspaper sometimes accused of being too refined for its own good.

One of his earliest assignments was the scene of a suspected car bomb in Whitehall. As Ted raised his camera, the bomb exploded. His first picture was a blur but the second caught the blast perfectly. With his unthreatening personality, he was particularly good at photographing women. He also produced a fine series on expelled Ugandan Asians as they arrived in Britain in 1972, but could reliably have turned his hand to anything.

In many ways, Ted was an odd choice for a Guardian photographer. His background in a rough and ready, competitive Fleet Street sometimes grated with the sensibility of the university-educated elite who mostly ran the paper, but those who cared to look harder beneath that often misunderstood quality of self-depreciation noted his down-to-earth sensitivity, even when he would occasionally interrupt their carefully tuned interviews with pertinent comments.

Always dressed in a sports jacket, he was known for his catchphrases: "You're only as good as your last picture", "Never volunteer, never run for a bus and never pass a toilet", and, when he decided to go home, "Time I had a look at Sidcup parish church." He greatly enjoyed office repartee and humour and was immensely proud to work for the Guardian. He retired from the paper in 1996.

Ted is survived by his wife, Diane, and his children, Stephen and Helen.

Martin Wainwright writes: In 1976 Ted West took me on my first Guardian job outside the office. He was a breezy Londoner with an accent so strong that I thought we would spend the whole drive to Milton Keynes talking in rhyming slang. When we arrived and unloaded his gear, he fished out a battered leather attache case of the kind I associate with diplomats or cabinet ministers, and on it was tooled in faded gold: E Hamilton West.

"Are you E Hamilton West?" I asked incredulously. The byline had struck me since my teens. It had to be an old Etonian ex-officer whose renegade politics had taken him to the Guardian. No, it was Ted, who had been persuaded at the start of his career that a broadsheet would be happier with a sonorous name.

He was a gent all right, though. Training on local papers and the London Evening Standard gave me a lifelong love of working with snappers, good companions who see things I miss. Ted was the best, and in later years when I blew into head office, I always got the same London crack and the same wide grin.

• Albert Edward West, photographer, born 29 March 1933; died 19 May 2011


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May 25 2011

1937: Franco sends for German bombers to flatten Basque town of Guernica

In less than four hours several hundred civilians are killed. Most buildings lay in ruins and are still burning


The fascist alliance between Franco, Hitler and Mussolini gave the Spanish dictator access to bomber planes, which were used with such devastating effect. The Spanish artist Pablo Picasso tried to capture the horror of the raid in the painting "Guernica", which is now regarded as one of his most famous works


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January 10 2011

Tom Lubbock obituary

Collagist, illustrator and chief art critic of the Independent

Until the last months of 2010, Tom Lubbock, who has died aged 53, was mainly known for his work as the chief art critic of the Independent. Two events changed and broadened that public profile. The first was the publication, in the Observer, of When Words Failed Me, his long, painful but at times strangely beautiful memoir of two years' suffering from the brain tumour that was slowly killing him, and which eventually robbed him of the power to write or speak. But it was more than just a fine writer's eloquent lament for the tragic loss of eloquence: it was a prose poem about language and mortality.

Just a few weeks after this, the Victoria Miro Gallery, London, mounted an exhibition of the collages that Tom had made for the Saturday editions of the Independent between 1999 and 2004. It was widely and warmly reviewed, notably by the Turner prizewinner Mark Wallinger, who praised the way in which these "exquisitely crafted" pieces "addressed the world in many different registers – sardonic, caustic, erudite and celebratory, with instinct, intelligence and wit". The exhibition announced to the world something that Tom's friends had long known: Lubbock the art critic was also Lubbock the artist.

When I first met him, more than 30 years ago, he was Lubbock the cartoonist. It seemed as if within days of arrival at Cambridge University – he read philosophy and English at Corpus Christi College – he was adorning the pages of student magazines with ferocious daubs and scatological caricatures.

In those days, before he grew the trademark beard that gave him the air of a 19th-century Russian anarchist, his face was like that of a cherub who had done a sneaky deal with the devil. He tended to dress in odd headgear and old formal suits – part scruff, part dandy – and his fingers were perpetually stained with ink. He was charming, if a bit frightening and had the most infectious laugh I had ever heard: a kind of sustained bronchial explosion. When someone uses the word "glee", I can see the boyish Tom, grinning hugely (he had terrible teeth), blue eyes wide open as he thrilled to some fresh joke or conceit, body convulsed, almost breathless with mirth. He was a superb mimic, too.

Tom was a serious student, busy laying the foundations for what became a formidable erudition, but he threw himself into all manner of other activities, including journalism (he edited an edition of Granta, in its old incarnation), student theatre, and a series of elaborate pranks that are probably best left unrecorded. It was said that whenever the Corpus porters discovered some new Dada-style atrocity, the cry would go up: "Where's Lubbock?"

One college contemporary, who was in the habit of arranging his loose change in neat piles on the mantelpiece, recalls how Tom used to love knocking them over in pure relish of chaos. Another remembers going to Tom's room for the first time and finding a note pinned to the door by a hunting knife: "You will die, Lubbock", it read. He did not seem greatly perturbed.

After graduation, Tom moved to London and began to scrabble around in the world of newspapers and magazines. His family was rather grand – Liberal politician Sir John Lubbock was an ancestor; so was the distinguished literary critic Percy Lubbock – and he had been to Eton. But there was no money to underwrite a life of scholarly ease, so, like most of his college peers, he learned to survive on his wits. He was theatre editor of the exceptionally short-lived magazine Bad News, and a jack of many trades for Richard Branson's Event listings magazine; and he produced lots of illustrations, often in collage form. Gradually, his reputation as a writer of uncommon talent became recognised, and his byline became more frequent.

His career gathered momentum in 1985, when was taken on by the producer Tom Sutcliffe as a regular contributor to BBC Radio 3's arts programme New Premises, for which he wrote both serious essays – his debut piece was a searching appreciation of George Stubbs's equestrian paintings – and spoofs or satires. One of these was a cod-documentary about a Thatcherite agit-prop theatre company, which toured banks and wine bars and gentleman's clubs with such shows as Piss on the Fire, Jack, My Toast's Done. His collage-cartoons began to appear in the Mail on Sunday, and then the Observer, and he designed the opening credits for the Channel 4 television programme A Week in Politics.

Tom also appeared on TV himself, as a contributor to BBC2's The Late Show in its early days. In collaboration with the director Roger Parsons, he also wrote an innovative six-part comedy series for BBC2, The Wolvis Family (1991). As its fans have pointed out, there were elements of this comedy that anticipated both The Royle Family (six characters confined to a single room) and The Office (a deadpan, apparently earnest approach to its characters' absurdities). Wolvis bombed in the ratings, but fared surprisingly well in Australia. Perhaps its best audience was Tom himself, who sat in the studio control room all but exploding with delight, until he had to be thrown out.

Meanwhile, he worked as a radio reviewer for the Independent and then the Observer, and wrote many book reviews. Tom was exceptionally well-informed in several areas – literature, music, philosophy – and as a book reviewer, he could turn his hand to almost anything editors asked of him, but it was becoming increasingly clear that his mind was at its most forceful and innovative when he thinking about the visual arts. He wrote long essays for the journal Modern Painters between 1990 and 2002, and won the Hawthorden prize for art criticism in 1993.

His full-time work as a reviewer and essayist for the Independent began in 1997. Apart from his keen eye and his wide range of reference, Tom's virtues included bracing clarity (he never used art-speak or any other kind of higher waffle), utter honesty (he was never intimidated by reputations), and originality (even if you thought you knew his tastes, he could surprise you). He could also be howlingly funny. His essay about conceptual art, based on various things you might do with a toaster, should be mounted in every modern art gallery as a contribution to public sanity.

When not engaged in journalism or family life – he married the artist Marion Coutts in 2001; their son, Eugene, is three years old – Tom worked at more substantial projects. He wrote major catalogue essays on Goya and Ian Hamilton Finlay, and monographs on Thomas Bewick and Carol Rhodes. A collection of essays from his popular Independent series Great Works will be published this year, and there are three manuscripts of completed books: one on Bad Art, one on the English graphic tradition, and The Donkey's Head, on 17th-century painting. His friends also hope that the full-length version of When Words Failed Me will become a book soon.

The last word should go to Tom: they are the last words of that essay.

The final thing. The illiterate. The dumb.

Speech?

Quiet but still something?

Noises?

Nothing?

My body. My tree.

After that it becomes simply the world.

• Thomas Nevile Lubbock, critic and illustrator, born 28 December 1957; died 9 January 2011


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May 05 2010

Roy Greenslade: The Sun recruits Simon Cowell to its pro-Tory campaign

At last, The Sun calls in the nation's real leader to assist in its campaign on behalf of the Conservatives. "I have always hated celebrities lecturing people on politics," says Simon Cowell. But what the hell? I'm going to do it anyway.

His message, strangely, echoes that of the paper. A hung parliament would be bad for Britain. Gordon Brown is past it. Nick Clegg has worrying policies. David Cameron, wouldn't you just know it, "has substance and the stomach to navigate us through difficult times."

Cowell has met "David" twice and trusts him on "gut instinct" because "he was very quick to commit to helping with a serious funding deficit for a children's hospice charity I am involved with."

It appears that Cowell is more of an expert on politics than his modesty suggests. A hung parliament, he writes, "ends in months of stupid arguments and then a dull compromise, which means nothing ever gets achieved."

He does not reveal how he came by this insight. So what? It must be worth a splash if Cowell is saying it.

And if that doesn't get Sun readers worked up, then the Page 3 picture of 16 topless models will surely do the job. They will be on the dole, says the paper, if the Tories do not get elected.

Why? Because Labour's Harriet Harman and the Lib Dems' Lynn Featherstone want to change the law to "ban Page 3 forever."

To underline this assault on our liberties, The Sun introduces its readers to "the radical ideas of 17th century philosopher John Locke" who, it says, "helped shape our freedoms."

So that's it. The election is decided. Cowell plus Locke plus 16 Page 3 girls equals certain victory for Dave.


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