i: Letter from the editor 13 January 2011

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The Independent Online

Those of you who were unlucky enough to be plugged into Radio 5 Live the other afternoon will have heard someone who sounded like a cross between a Luddite and a old fogey defending the purpose and value of newspapers in a high-speed,electronic, broadband media universe. That was me.

Against the assertion that the iPad represents the death knell for the printed form of news, I made the case for the portability and convenience of newspapers (have you tried getting a wireless connection on the Tube, for instance?) I suggested that there is still a power in the printed word - people are buying books today in ever greater numbers, despite the electronic alternatives - and that, for a very modest price (or, in the case of i, an outlay you’ll hardly notice) you can have news that’s impeccably sourced, comment that is authoritative, analysis and interpretation from experts, plus a fair bit of entertainment. And it can be there for you, at your breakfast table or on your way to work, in an easy-to handle, well-ordered format. (At this point, I should say that if you think what I’ve just said is outdated rubbish and you prefer the iPad format, we do have a splendid i app for you.)

Some media commentators questioned our sanity in launching i, the first new national newspaper for 25 years. But in a short time, we have built up a sizeable and devoted audience, proving that the nation has not yet fallen out of love with newspapers. We thank you for that.

There are times, however, when even we see the drawbacks of our format. It’s when big news happens abroad and we are caught on the wrong side of the time difference. This happened during the Ashes series in Australia when you would wake up to the latest score and we’d be 24 hours behind, and now with the floods in Queensland. For the most up-todate news, naturally you turn to the electronic media. But I would still contend that, to make sense of what’s going on in the world, a newspaper like i has a real role to play. We have specialist correspondents in the right places (see Kathy Marks’s dispatch from Brisbane on page 4), and, in the world of the sound-bite, we can give you depth, breadth and context - and no “Breaking News” headlines that later prove to be inaccurate. We’re there when you want us, and you know where to find us. That’s got to be worth 20p of anyone’s money!

Simon Kelner