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

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Related Articles
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: the paraphernalia of a practised burglar – screwdrivers, gloves, children

Guy Keleny
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits  

So who, really, is David Cameron, our re-elected ‘one nation’ Prime Minister?

Andrew Grice
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?