Michael Williams: Readers' editor

We are not the BBC, thank goodness

Share

Men in offices still wore fat braces, mobile phones were the size of bricks, Madonna and Kylie Minogue were in the Top 10 and 'The Independent on Sunday' was born. The world may have changed since January 1990, but readers are still arguing about what it means to be "independent".

James Tyrell, from Cirencester, emails: "I think we accept that global warming is a serious matter, but why do you have to go to such extremes in your reporting? Last week's front-page picture made it look as though the world was on fire, and you use headlines such as 'catastrophe', 'devastating', 'a world dying'. Two months ago the BBC was forced to drop a day of programmes about climate change because they breached the corporation's guidelines on impartiality. If you lived up to the name established by your founders, you, too, would be separating fact from fiction in an unbiased way."

Looking at that first front page on 28 January 1990 in the light of what you say, Mr Tyrell, it was certainly pretty neutral, with a sober lead on Nelson Mandela's impending release, and a report on petrol prices. But it's wrong to think this newspaper ever took on the same obligations to impartiality as the BBC. The title "Independent" was coined, not with any public service remit, but against the background of Rupert Murdoch's Wapping dispute in 1986, amid what was seen as increasing editorial interference by newspaper owners.

Like its older sister, the IoS has evolved and matured over the years. That quieter notion of independence has developed into what you have in your hands today – a paper independent of proprietorial interference and which speaks passionately on matters which it thinks important to its readers.

Sometimes those issues chime with the general consensus. On global warming, we're happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with 2,500 of the world's top scientists who reported last week that the quickening pace of climate change is a threat to world stability.

But, equally, we're not afraid to go against the grain – as we did with the Iraq war – the IoS stood alone among Sunday newspapers in opposing it. Independence for The Independent on Sunday is not about sitting on the fence. It is about knowing our own mind. And not being cowed by those who want us to keep quiet.

Corrections and clarifications

Last week I claimed this newspaper was "not secular". I'm delighted to be corrected by Marilyn Mason from Kingston upon Thames, who writes: "You are not the 'Church Times', thank goodness. You probably meant to say 'not secularist'." I did – and thanks, too, to Frances Wilson for spotting an error in Weeklypedia last week."The queen was heir presumptive, not 'heiress apparent', at the time of her wedding. As the UK has a system of male primogeniture for the monarchy, it is impossible for the daughter of a king to be heir apparent as there is always the theoretical possibility that her father may have a son who could take precedence." The sub-editor who changed the original copy is now in the Tower.

Message Board: Is the world dying or is this a false alarm?

Alarming evidence that polluted seas are hastening global warming ignited a fierce debate between bloggers, who share their views at www.independent.co.uk/IoSblogs

John Wood

There is a lack of urgency among world leaders about dealing with climate change, particularly in the UK. At least Bush will be gone relatively soon. Brown, having shown little understanding of the situation, is a different matter.

Ian Fitzsimmons

Global warming is an entirely natural aspect of this planet, as is the carbon cycle, and should not be confused with waste and pollution, which can be avoided.

Ian Smith

Isn't it amazing that in a world which is more technically advanced than in any time in history, we are talking in years rather than months to make any significant changes?

Dennis D

While I think these predictions are on the verge of hysteria, reducing carbon emissions would be a wonderful thing.

F Steiner

Ocean acidification is very real... you can simply go and measure the acid level anywhere in the world. Unlike global warming... which is very difficult to predict... ocean acidification is quite simple.

Roderick M

It's just a matter of time before the global warming police come and inspect our carbon footprints and tax us, based on this faulty science.

C Russell

Should we all clean up our "rooms"? You bet. Will it change the world? A tiny bit. Will it save the world? No. Humans are not that powerful.

Jamison

When will people realise that global warming is more about politics and the associated agenda than real science?

Email readerseditor@independent.co.uk

To have your say on this or any other issue visit www.independent.co.uk/IoSblogs

React Now

Related Articles
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Directory, ITIL, Reuter)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...

PHP Web Developer (HTML5, CSS3, Jenkins, Vagrant, MySQL)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: PHP Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The final instalment of our WW1 series

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Simon Usborne: The more you watch pro cycling, the more you understand its social complexity

Simon Usborne
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice