Letter from the editor: Honesty with our readers

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The Independent Online

We try to be honest with our readers, and part of that contract is to hold our hands up and admit when we’ve made a mistake.

David Baker thought we made one in yesterday’s edition of i, and I’ve got to say that, on reflection, I agree with him. On the news pages yesterday, we ran a picture from the funeral of the father of young Olympic diver, Tom Daley. “Why is this picture necessary?” asks Mr Baker. “We thought it was intrusive.”

It was clearly a story of public interest when Tom’s father died after a long illness: he had been a huge influence on the young man’s life and career, and this was an event that would surely be of deep significance to a national sporting hero. But what did a picture of the funeral add to our understanding? Was it intrusive? Or even prurient?

We know that Tom would have been upset by his father’s death; we don’t need to see a picture of him at the funeral service. The funeral of a national figure is a news event in its own right, but this was not that – it was that of the father of a national figure. There is an obvious difference between this event and the funeral of, for instance, Henry Cooper, from which we ran a picture recently. In our defence, it’s a very fine line to tread, but I believe that if there’s any doubt from now on we should err on the side of caution. And we’ll try not to put in a gratuitous picture of a celebrity instead!

Meanwhile, readers (well, one or two, anyway) have sprung to my defence after yesterday’s letter in which I chided myself for using the term “nerve-wracking” instead of “nerve-racking”. Kev Culkey and Nigel Lewis both point out (correctly, it seems) that either is perfectly acceptable. “It’s not as bad as ‘curling tongues’ which I have seen recently,” said Mr Lewis. I leave you with one thought: don’t make a mistake – get the new i on Saturday tomorrow!

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