Humphrys says reading the news 'requires no brain'

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The Independent Online

He is renowned for putting politicians on the spot. But John Humphrys turned his tough questioning on his own profession this weekend and declared that reading the news is so easy that his own four-year-old son could almost do it.

He is renowned for putting politicians on the spot. But John Humphrys turned his tough questioning on his own profession this weekend and declared that reading the news is so easy that his own four-year-old son could almost do it.

Humphrys, who presents Radio 4's Today, told an audience that despite the vast salaries of television newsreaders, the job needed "no brain".

"I used to read the Nine O'Clock News. It isn't work, whatever anybody says. You get paid a lot of money and it requires no brain. I have a four-year-old and I think he'll be ready in a couple of months," he said.

The broadcaster, who has written a book on declining standards in grammar, also criticised the skills of his junior Today colleagues.

Humphrys, who left school at 15 to begin his journalistic career on a local paper in Wales, the Penarth Times, said he was amazed at the poor standards of some of the brightest graduates. "We get our pick of the best from Oxford and Cambridge," he said. "They are terrific people, they're very bright and well educated in all sorts of ways, but they cannot string a single sentence together."

He said that after 40 years in journalism his sparring matches with ministers had not caused him to distrust politicians. He said: "I trust politicians as much as I trust anybody else, which is quite a lot."

Humphrys was addressing the Guardian Hay Festival, in Hay-on-Wye.

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