i Editor's Letter: Judging each policy on its merits


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The Independent Online


Editors leave themselves open to criticism if they run a story on the front that could be interpreted as favourable to the government of the day. Is the editor credulous, a patsy? A secret establishment stooge?

So what factors are at play when an  editor decides to do this? (As we have with today’s NHS cover story.) I can think of three. Relevance: to readers, to the country at large. Is it an issue about which people care deeply? Impact: what are the implications for people’s lives? Also, reaction: how are specialists (the “experts”) responding?

My take on it is that journalists must question and challenge the government, whatever its hue, but blind opposition leads to loss of credibility, and unfair, inaccurate reporting. Best to judge each policy on its merits.

So our story today that every hospital in England will have a legal duty to own up to mistakes – to tell patients and their families what it has  done to them – is good news.  This should happen already, but doesn’t. Hopefully the devolved health  services will follow suit.


Some additions to the i team. Our page production staff are a sight as deadlines loom, waving completed proofs taken hot from the printer. One of those we rely on is Siobhan Norton, who joined us a year ago from Dublin. Siobhan is appointed Assistant Editor. Luke Blackall has joined our sister television station London Live, but will continue to write for Saturday i. Replacing him as Diary Editor is  Jessica Barrett, who joins in April. More on her new page nearer the time.

Readers have written warmly in  response to comment by Louise Scodie, a London Live presenter, so she will begin a column on Fridays. And, as you know, Janet Street-Porter has joined i and will write every Saturday. We  welcome your suggestions on how to  improve the paper, although know not to mess with a formula you like. You can write to me, Rhodri, Siobhan and the team at i@independent.co.uk