i: Letter from the editor 11 January 2011


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The Independent Online


First of all, a big thank you to everyone who texted and emailed Richard Bacon at Radio 5 yesterday. I was on Richard’s afternoon show talking about newspapers for more than half an hour (if ever there was cause to resent paying the licence fee, that must have been it) and he solicited views from listeners. He said that they’d had so many emails from i readers saying how much they enjoy this paper that, had he read them all out, it would have sounded like a free advertisement.

I was particularly pleased with a charming young lady called Karen who texted the programme to say that she had assumed all newspaper editors were “debauched egomaniacs” and that I sounded much more measured, and, if you can believe it, younger. (Karen, you obviously weren’t watching via the webcam!) But don’t you have to be an egomaniac to be an editor? It was the first question I was asked at my interview: “Do you believe you’re always right, that the world revolves around you, and no matter whose idea it is, you’ll take the credit? Yes? OK, you can have the job.”

Appearing on live radio is always something of a challenge, especially with a presenter as accomplished as Mr Bacon. There's always the curveball question, or something you’re not expecting crops up to reveal your embarrassing lack of knowledge. This happened yesterday when we were discussing the Contempt of Court Act as it related to the arrest of Joanna Yeates’s landlord, Christopher Jefferies, and the lurid stories that were published by some newspapers. I said that the full force of the law does not apply until a suspect is charged. Technically, as Richard quite rightly pointed out, the law is active once a suspect is arrested, given that details printed at this time may influence a later trial. So, to use legal language, mea culpa. But if I were a proper egomaniac, I’d try to maintain that I was still right!

Simon Kelner

To listen to the Radio 5 interview click here