Unspeakable garbage

One of George’s training exercises, involving a mortar attack on world leaders gathered for a summit meeting in London, was designed to teach trainees how to write clear news agency copy when under extreme pressure of time.

As events unfolded throughout the day, trainees had to turn out many urgent stories, one after the other, often having to file at times when the situation was far from clear. There were many red herrings — relatively unimportant facts that could easily get in the way of the main news.

Towards the end of the day, trainees had to write a “lead all”, a longer story carrying all the facts designed to replace the previous shorter stories and update the world’s media on the day’s events.

Below is George’s “teachers version” of the lead-all story from the summit attack. The red inked comment at the start was likely written by the late Ron Thomson, who often provided near real-time copy criticism for trainees as they filed stories by dropping them into a basket at the front of the training room.