i Deputy Editor's Letter: Editorial choices


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The Independent Online


When a big story breaks, one of the decisions an editor eventually has to face is how long that story remains front-page news. Some of the most important items are banished to the inside pages as fast as they appear, but every now and then issues arise that cannot be dismissed so quickly.

The concerning events in Syria featured as the main story in this paper every day last week, and a solution is still a hotly debated topic, so why, I hear you ask, is it no longer our main story today?

In our brief time in the market, very few stories have remained on our front page for longer. The phone-hacking scandal lasted 14 consecutive days; London Olympics 12 days; and the 2011 riots nine days. We could keep repeating the horrific facts from Syria to you, but if that were the sole deciding factor in what goes on the front page, many other events in history would still take precedence.

The removal of a story from the front page does not diminish its overall importance – or prevent it from returning at a moment’s notice. It is obvious that the plight of millions of innocents in Syria is of greater concern than exam results. The dangers of war should not be underestimated, and neither should the decision (or not) to enter into conflict be taken lightly. But after the Commons voted against military action last week, and President Obama’s decision to seek approval from Congress, the immediate threat of strikes has diminished.

Of course, for those in the line of fire in Syria the issue is as pressing as ever. But polls have indicated that the British public does not want to enter into conflict in Syria and it is obvious from your letters that the vast majority oppose the use of force – at least until there is concrete evidence of the regime’s use of chemical weapons.

Perhaps if the Government announced that money saved in not going to war would be directed towards humanitarian aid, the story might return to the front page.


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