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i Editor's Letter: Readers' real concerns

 

"You could help by giving a story like this a bigger spotlight. This is the kind of story the public wants to read. This, though horrid, is gold. I guarantee this would be more appreciated than your front-page story today: 43% of cancers preventable". These harsh words came not from my bosses in our meeting about i's 2012 plans, but from year 9 pupil Conor Trotman at Woolwich Polytechnic School, which I visited last week. I have waited to write more about it til today, because every Wednesday the school buys 600 copies of i for use in class discussions.

Year 9's English teacher Katie Holmes (not that one) gave me a folder "responses to i newspaper", with her class's critique of that day's i. Pupils pulled no punches. Many, like Azim Maudhoo, agreed with Conor: the court appearance of the woman ranting racist abuse on a Croydon tram was a better front page. "Government should be stricter against racial abuse," Azim said. Joshua Wallace added: "this made me realise how much hate there was in the world".

This story, and the one about the wife who killed her husband in a row over whether they watched football or Harry Hill, revealed the year 9 pupils to be tough on crime. They are still young, though, and were inspired by stories such as the Voyager 1 space probe, which led Alex Murray and others to call for an increase in space spending.

I'm as guilty as any editor of not getting out enough and learning about readers' real concerns. This excellent school inspires many new resolutions in its students, and it has in turn inspired me to resolve to remember that i's daily news agenda can be viewed very differently from the bottom up, rather than the usual top down.

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