In My Opinion: Craig McGill: Cutting to the chase

I DON’T recall Matt Bendoris writing about death by a thousand cuts, in his first novel, Killing With Confidence.

But The Scottish Sun feature writer has sparked the detective in me.

The novel has just been published and it’s a good read, covering the changing state of journalism, relationships with celebrities and police – and, of course, some good, old-fashioned murder.

allmediascotland will have a review of it in a couple of days’ time, but there’s one part to it that may jar some journalistic readers. At one point when talking about newspaper cuttings, he talks about ‘cutts’.

And it’s not a typo. While many may have thought it was, Bendoris said he was borrowing from the broadsheets.

He said: “I always thought it was cuts, but thought I better check since I’ve become a serious author now!

“According to The Independent and The Guardian, it’s ‘cutts’ – and they are never wrong.”

While Bendoris may be a little ‘tounge-in-cheek’ there, his Scottish colleagues past and present think the broadsheets can keep their two t’s south of the border.

On Facebook, Iain Hepburn, Jane Hamilton, Ellen Arnison, Scott Douglas, Iain Pope, Bill Mackintosh, Iain Bruce, Stuart Darroch, Stu Nathan from The Engineer were all adamant that it was – and is – cuts, prompting Mike Ritchie to praise the old Daily Record staff who were “very good at searches”.

Craig McKechnie, now flying high in the world of Dublin papers, points out that some papers were a little posher, though: “At The Scotsman it was cuttings.”

Fellow AMS columnist, Bill Heaney, also recalls slang like cuts would never have been allowed in the ‘glory days’ of the Scottish Daily Express.

He said: “If cuts or cutts was a word then, it was never used or written down in a note or message in my experience – and I have a load of experience, stretching back from when I was a copy boy on the Express in Albion Street when I was sent to the library for cuttings and the ever-courteous Ernie and his team searched them out for us in brown envelopes from a vast set of metal filing cabinets on the third floor.

“Subs asked for pics or pix and that was written down as in ‘with pics’ on the copy submitted by the reporters who were never reps who were folk who worked in the circulation and advertising departments.”

The good thing is that at least everyone remembers a form of cuttings. How long until all people grab is tweets and soundbites. But what do AMS readers think? One t or two t’s? Or should it be cuttings or a different phrase to reflect the multimedia newsrooms we have now?

Craig McGill has written for – or been a member of staff at – TIME Magazine, The Guardian, Daily Mirror, The Scotsman, Evening Times, The Press and Journal, The Sun and Evening Times. Author of four non-fiction books and lecturer in ‘cross-platform journalism’ at Edinburgh Napier University, McGill is currently the digital strategist (Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland) for Weber Shandwick. You can get him via Twitter @craigmcgill