Hundred years of war and astrology

Hugh John

The Daily Mail Centenary CD-Rom Educational Edition CD-Rom for Windows Multimedia PCs, Pounds 29.95p including VAT Verulam Publishing: 01727 872770

This CD-Rom, released to celebrate the centenary of the Daily Mail, is available from the usual multimedia and bookshop outlets. Teachers, however, will undoubtedly find the educational version, which can be obtained from the publishers at no extra cost, far more useful.

The education pack comes with a handbook and an assortment of well-prepared and thoughtful worksheets which cover a wide range of topics. Tailor-made projects include the suffragette movement, advertising, sport, book reviews and the two world wars. Most of the source material is from the Daily Mail archives, but the 50 newsreel clips, ranging from the funeral of Queen Victoria in 1901 to the Gulf War in 1991, are from the British Pathe Library.

The main screen menu offers a choice of 12 topics such as a sports almanac, quizzes and games, the history of advertising and astrology, with predictions from the Mail's soothsayer, Jonathan Cainer.

Students of English and media studies will find this disc particularly useful. Unlike Dorling Kindersley's Chronicle of the Twentieth Century, it is a compilation of real newspaper articles by real journalists; the good, the bad and the slanted. And while judicious selection of material has perhaps toned down the paper's usual editorial position, this CD gives an insight into the development of journalism in the 20th century - which is probably why the National Council for Educational Technology is including it with the software for its latest "laptops for teachers" project.

And in true tabloid tradition the Mail can't resist giving its rivals a sly, sanctimonious kick. "While the Mail has always employed genuine astrologers, some other papers have not been so responsible." Do I see a dark-haired lady, crystal ball and ping-pong balls?

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Hugh John

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