The London Evening Standard, a stablemate of ours, is running a really excellent campaign at the moment in which it is highlighting the shocking literacy rate in the capital, especially among children.
This is a prime example of a newspaper campaign that works for the greater good of the community, rather than simply furthering an editorial agenda. We at i try to do our bit, too, and I believe that our efforts to make this paper accessible and affordable have helped to get young people in the habit of reading newspapers.
This hit home last weekend when a friend of mine texted thus: “My nine-year-old Harry is quite an i fan—currently reading yesterday’s and annoyed that I threw Friday’s away before he had read it. I asked him why he likes i— he said it’s not full of rubbish like The Sun which is the sort of paper that Man Utd fans would read.”
Ignoring that final bit of shameless buttering-up, Harry Hartin, nine, from Leamington Spa, is the closest we’ve come to a poster child for our newspaper. However, he has some competition. Do you remember Gad’s Hill School, near Rochester? Their head of English, Mr Wadey, buys 100 copies of this paper every morning to distribute to pupils. “We use the newspaper to discuss a current topic,” he says. “I’m trying to introduce them to the benefits of newspapers.”
The least I could do in return for such loyal support was to accept their invitation to present the prizes at their Junior School Prize Giving service next month. They have also asked me to say a few words. My last such experience was at my old school when, after two hours of giving prizes, I got up to deliver a keynote speech, only to find half my young audience asleep and the other half ready to kill themselves. To the boys and girls of Gad’s Hill, it will be only a few words. Promise.