Letter from the i editor: Work isn't reality TV


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The Independent Online

I blame Simon Cowell.

Our i Writers’ competition, which has now ended, was an almost exclusively uplifting experience for us here at i. First, there were the extraordinary 500-plus entries at two lots of 400 words a piece; second, 90 per cent of you hit the deadline and answered the brief – vital for serious aspiring journalists; third, the overall quality of entries was strong.

Most were decent, many were pretty good, and a few outstanding. Last, there was the wonderful response of i’s readers to our students’ work. All of them will have a chance to appear again in the paper soon. And I will email the close runners-up. I said “almost exclusively uplifting”. Most entrants who wrote on Carlos Tevez found it tough to rise above cliché. Understandably, too many columns were essays or, in the case of Amanda Knox, angry letters.

Then there was the proliferation of apostrophe-s plurals. No one’s perfect (see “i was wrong”, p16), but we should all try. How did apostrophe-s become synonymous with plurals? So. Simon Cowell? Back stories. The sob stories that are killing The XFactor as a legitimate singing competition are now the norm.

Many students felt compelled to tell us about their personal difficulties, whether illness or penury. Some said they were only alerted to our competition at the last minute (ie “I don’t read i”) so would we forgive just one column? (No). The worst? “I’m sorry I didn’t answer the brief, but I was busy with other commitments”. Yep, that’s a surefire winner with any Fleet Street editor.

To those students: toughen up, people. The dog can't keep eating your homework. Work isn’t university, or reality TV. Rant over. See you on Monday, when it’s the cartoonists’ turn. We think we have found some real talent, and hope you agree. i@independent.co.uk