Letter from the editor: Giving people what they want

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The Independent Online

I was in Manchester earlier this week to speak to a group of business leaders about national newspapers. (There was another purpose to my trip, but we’ll come to that later.)

Much of the talk at the event was, naturally, about the challenges our industry faces. There was, I said, a common view that newspapers had had their day, and the digital space was where the action was. However, the success of i had proved that if you give people what they want, and at the right price, newspapers still have a power and relevance, and are not yet ready for the knacker’s yard.

I then posed a proposition: imagine the internet had been invented before newspapers. So all we had was a vast, wonderfully anarchic, largely unmoderated source of information. You have an urgent desire to make sense of all this news. And then imagine someone said: I know, I’ll gather together lots of really clever people who will edit all this information, sifting out the rubbish from what’s important, helping you to understand what’s going on around you. And then we’ll print all this in a really handy, portable form (you can read it anywhere; no wireless necessary) and we’ll even deliver it to your home in time for breakfast. A fanciful scenario, I know, but it made them think.

The other reason for my visit up north was to see Manchester City secure a place in next season’s Champions’ League. On that subject, let me assure you that my partisan feelings do not impinge on our editorial decisions. Sam Abbotts writes to complain that we haven’t had enough on Stoke City in the run-up to tomorrow’s FA Cup final. “Please remember there are two teams playing on Saturday,” he pleads. We do, Sam, and on page 52, you’ll find a feature on Stoke.There are also two pieces on Manchester City, but as my City have an average crowd almost twice the size of yours, perhaps that reflects the comparative levels of interest in the two clubs. “Do I detect a hint of editorial bias?” asks Sam. Nothing could be further from the truth! I may return to this subject tomorrow. Yes, don’t forget: i comes out on Saturdays now. Even on Cup final day!