Michael Williams: Readers' editor

A southern slant? No, just sloppy spelling

Share

Do you live north of Watford? Then I expect you take the view that we coddled metropolitan journos, snug in our Canary Wharf offices, have little understanding of the North, and worse, probably couldn't care less about it. Certainly, it's one of the most frequent reader gripes in my mailbox. That somehow we southern softies caricature northern England as a kind of desolate rain-sodden wasteland of sink estates populated by gun-toting neanderthals, hard-bitten women straight out of 'Shameless' and sad fat blokes with pints, eating mushy peas and chuckling at Peter Kay's jokes.

Unfortunately, 'The IoS' didn't do much last week to dispel that view. We had a headline that managed to misspell the name of one of Yorkshire's most famous towns – revered as the place where the Brontë sisters were brought up and one of the North's greatest literary shrines ("Brontë moor and Inca Mountain. More similar than you think, says Howarth's [sic] twinning group").

"Don't you know or don't you care?" fumes John Metcalfe from Baildon. "It's Haworth, not Howarth. Typical southern ignorance. You probably come from the same school that misspells Middlesbrough 'Middlesborough' and pronounces Newcastle 'Newc-arse-sell". "What's so exciting," snarls Stuart Binns from Northallerton, "about Haworth being twinned with some trendy travel destination like Machu Picchu? I'd rather spend my hols in the Pennines any day."

Sensible choice, Mr Binns. But this was merely a slip – unforgivable, admittedly – for which we apologise. No slight intended. And as for "southern softies", it's worth pointing out that the editor-in-chief of 'The Independent' is Manchester born and bred, and that the editor of this newspaper is a proud Scot.

Even so, those who detect a metropolitan bias in the media are not always wrong. In his book 'Pies and Prejudice', the DJ Stuart Maconie rightly asks why newspapers and TV stations have northern correspondents but not southern ones. The typical "northern corr", according to Maconie, is "a stocky man in his early fifties with jowls, a florid complexion and bullishly hetero moustache. He looks tough but defeated, maybe an old rugby league pro with a messy divorce behind him and the beginnings of a drink problem (and maybe a quarter bottle of Bells in the pocket of the anorak)." Our own svelte man in the North would probably sue. But you see the kind of prejudice Maconie is getting at.

As for me, I spend half my working week in the hard-nosed Lancashire city of Preston – the "Coketown" of Dickens's great novel 'Hard Times'. Not too much in the way of "hard times" here these days, unless you count the fact that the local Marks & Spencer shuts at 6pm. And, shock, it even has a Michelin-starred restaurant. But thank God there is somewhere in Britain where no one gives a hoot about Ken or Boris.

readerseditor@independent.co.uk

Message Board: How do we recruit more foster parents?

Our story about the challenges of fostering a child and the shortage of people willing to take on the role was a popular topic:

Rose

10,000 foster parents needed is an enormous figure. Personally, I can't ever imagine fostering, but how do you cut down on the number of children in care? That has to be a cultural sea-change kind of thing.

gary

I agree that it seems a very high figure – what are the numbers for other countries? Surely we're taking too many into care?

flipped

72,000 children is an enormous figure. Do all of them need to be in care? Social services are far too quick to remove children from their homes. Maybe they should give practical help to the parents first.

Keith Martin

I fostered in England for many years. The system costs tax-payers around £100,000 per kid per year to run, and 50 per cent of those who have been in foster care end up in jail. Adopted kids, however, do OK.

missy

There are about 14 million children in the UK, so 70,000 makes up less than 1 per cent of the under-18 population – not really such an enormous figure!

Helen

Your article shows that fostering is a skilled job and should be paid at a decent rate. This would solve the problem of the shortage, and prove cheaper and more effective than putting children in homes.

Lynne

Foster parents should be applauded for doing such a difficult job. Our society fails adequately to value the labour of anyone involved in caring, with its concern for turning a profit.

D Hayward

It might seem we have a greater concern with the welfare of animals than we do with the plight of children in this country. It is shocking so many children are left at the mercy of social services.

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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Recruitment Genius: Invoicing Clerk

£14500 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are contractors to...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Administrator / Marketing Assistant

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of packag...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Hillary Clinton’s private messages reveal the banality of email

Alice Jones
 

We celebrate the power of a few women, yet ignore the 9,000 who are locked away

Janet Street-Porter
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy