i Editor's Letter: leap, and a net will appear


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The Independent Online


Some of you may know that I am currently balancing two jobs as I wait for the boss to announce my successor as i editor. In my new role as editorial director of London Live TV, the 24-hour channel that will launch next year, we have been conducting screen tests here at iTowers, among the combined staffs of The Independent, i and London Evening Standard. Talking either to a camera or to someone else on camera is a skill that others have that one might take for granted. That’s largely because most of the people we see on screen are so capable that you don’t notice the joins and the artifice.

Like so many of the other things in life that real pros make seem so simple – potting a snooker ball, cooking French fries, hitting an overhead smash, playing the drums – the reality is that speaking live to, or on, camera is far more difficult to master for most people, even print journalists, than one might think.

The past three days gave most of those who were brave enough to try it a real insight into that skill, and perhaps a new-found respect for everyone ranging from Jeremy Paxman and Jon Snow to Anna Botting, Phillip Scofield, Jeff Stelling and James Martin. Perhaps even the much-maligned Holly Willoughby.

The biggest lesson of the past three days is surely this: hey, you never know! People really don’t know what talent lies within them unless, when given an opportunity, they grab it.

Yes, it’s a cliché, but the best advice anyone ever gave me was “carpe diem”. “Seize the day” indeed, or as I like to say: leap, and a net will appear.