Afternoon conference at i is where most of the decisions that inform the following day’s paper are made.
A group of senior executives examines the news lists, questions the section heads on particular offerings, and decides the relative importance of the stories of the day. There may be a discussion, for example, on whether the public have had enough of Julian Assange, or if there is still interest in the whys and wherefores of the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber.
Representations are made, decisions are taken. But often a subsidiary, and sometimes livelier, discussion begins. Does the general public understand what the Big Society means? Has anyone noticed that Boardwalk Empire is rather unpleasant? Did anyone watch Spike Lee’s film on Hurricane Katrina, and think it was one of the most savage indictments of George W Bush’s presidency? And will defeat at the weekend presage a catastrophic decline for Manchester United?
The answers to these questions, to our minds, are: No; yes; most definitely; hope so (the last is a personal prejudice of mine). As to whether these digressions are irrelevant, the answer is no. All we are doing is replicating discussions that are being had in workplaces and homes all over the country.
And a newspaper is doing its job when it reflects the national conversation. Things that matter, and things people care about, are often different. We try to reflect both sides of this coin in i, but we could always do with your help. So, why don’t you come to conference? Drop me a line saying why you want to join our conversation. How’s that for the Big Society?
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