As an editor, the fact that you can’t please all of the people all of the time is something you learn pretty quickly.
For me, it came most strikingly when, as editor of i’s sister paper, The Independent, we changed the size of the paper from broadsheet to compact. Every morning, I’d have a pile of letters from readers, making comments about our new format. “Dear Sir,” read one, “I’d like to commend you on the new size of your paper. I suffer from arthritis and find it much easier to handle.”
Feeling pleased that at least we’d made one person happy, I continued to open the mail (these were the days when Letters to the Editor were exactly that). “Dear Sir, I would like to say that I am most displeased by your change of format,” said another correspondent. “It’s just that I suffer from arthritis and find the greater bulkiness of your new size just too difficult to handle.”
This (true) story of the impossibility of pleasing everyone came back to me when I read the text message from Kate Robbins of London NW8. After telling us how much she enjoys this newspaper, she says that “the ridiculously low price of 20p makes it more enjoyable,” before adding, mysteriously, “Or does it?” She goes on to explain that, when she buys from the discount shops like Aldi and Lidl, she feels something she calls “Austerity Bargain Rage.” This is caused by a simple equation: “Can products be that goodif they’re so cheap? I’d like the price raised to 21p so I don’t feel so guilty (and mean).
I know you’re being a little ironic, but blimey, Kate, we’re bringing you with the best in British journalism - Robert Fisk from Egypt, Johann Hari’s award-winning columns, James Lawton on sport every day, even Cooper Brown’s diary (OK, maybe not that) - and still you complain. Anyway, as our managing director always says, we’re not cheap - just incredibly good value. And there’s no better thought to take with you as you start the working week!