Reporter 418, 6 April 1998

In the news

Jack Straw’s student days, as featured in the last Reporter, have been the focus of much coverage in the press over the past two weeks. The Guardian, Financial Times, Yorkshire Post and Marie Claire were among those who gleefully followed up our story on the Home Secretary’s role in Leeds student protests 30 years ago.

If the students of Straw’s day were revolting over politics and ‘secret files’, today’s generation are more concerned with their own immediate financial worries, according to an article in the Yorkshire Evening Post. The paper reported that a male University student boosted his income at night by working for an escort agency.

The same paper also noted that researchers at the University are using deadly spider venom in a bid to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. It is hoped the paralysing effect of the venom might be reversed and used to restore function in the brain.

As we know, there’s nowt as queer as folk – and media interest in the University’s research on English regional dialects has continued unabated. The last fortnight has seen coverage of an international conference on dialects featured on Yorkshire Television’s Calendar, interviews on numerous local radio stations, and packages on both BBC Radio 2 and the World Service.

Dolly the cloned sheep is another long-running story which shows no sign of losing its legs. News of the Textile Industries Department’s involvement in knitting a jumper from Dolly’s fleece has even been broadcast on French national state radio, France Inter.

The Times Higher, meanwhile, reported that Leeds was one of ten universities to clinch a deal worth more than £10 million as part of a joint bid for European Union business support.

Closer to home, both the Daily Telegraph and the Independent on Sunday followed up the Reporter story on miniature cameras being hidden inside cocoa tins and teddy bears to observe the way families relate to technology. The Independent on Sunday was also one of several to cover the computer vision research at the University which uses ‘smart cameras’ to monitor car parks.

As usual, a wide range of academics have been quoted as experts in the media on a variety of issues. Dr Peter Tomlinson from the School of Education was quoted in the Daily Express on the moral implications of stealing from hotels. And the views of Dr Alastair Hay, a Reader in Chemical Pathology, were featured in the Daily Telegraph’s coverage of fears about a possible anthrax attack on Britain.

Blowing his own trumpet, according to the Observer, is physics lecturer Dr Robin Jakeways. A keen amateur musician, he told the paper that musicians waste vast sums of money on instruments made from rare materials, when cheaper alternatives could sound just as good.

Putting his money where his mouth is, Dr Jakeways plays a trumpet made from a piece of tubing with a brass mouthpiece and a plastic funnel.

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