Letter from the Editor: We don't seek to offend, but we can't sugar-coat the news

 

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The Independent Online

The horror in Peshawar this week revived some familiar arguments about how much blood newspapers should show, especially on their front page.

On Wednesday morning, we had a poster-style Page 1, showing the bloodied torso of a victim of the Taliban’s attack.

A convention has it that we should avoid publishing anything downright gruesome. This newspaper doesn’t specifically set out to offend sensibilities; but we tend to err against self-censorship. I do take the point about children being exposed to front pages, but ultimately we are in the truth business: this was a horrendous atrocity, and we ought not to sugar-coat it.

Our approach has always been: readers are capable of making up their own minds, and deserve to be as fully informed as possible.

Talking of which, I thought we’d get some letters asking why, if we thought Ukip was the “Nasty Party” (as a headline on Tuesday’s editorial put it), Nigel Farage has a weekly column for us. John Blenkinsopp from Sheffield was among those who wrote in.

Almost exactly a year ago, this column explained the reasoning behind that decision. Farage’s surge is one of the great dramas of modern British politics: he gives us a perspective from the right that is important, and has news value. If that changes, we’ll dump it.

Why not give leaders of other parties a regular hearing, too? We do: an interview with Alex Salmond was on yesterday’s front page, and we’ve had columns by Natalie Bennett, and interviews with Caroline Lucas aplenty.

I’m delighted to say that, according to authoritative research we carried out recently, over four-fifths of you support Farage’s having a column. For those who don’t, I am sorry for the offence it causes, but I hope you can see from our editorials and news coverage that we pull no punches in scrutinising this political phenomenon, which still looks like it could deliver Ed Miliband to No 10 next May.

Finally, for those of you doing last-minute shopping, I’ve got to say we have been blown away by the response to the book of our acclaimed series A History of the Great War in 100 Moments. It has tapped into the spirit of remembrance in Britain this year, and proved justly popular. You can get it by posting a cheque for £8.99 made out to Independent Print Limited to: Independent Syndication, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF. Or if that’s too slow you can get it from Amazon as a paperback or ebook.

Whatever you do, this is my last chance to say, on behalf of everyone at The Independent, we wish all our readers a very merry Christmas.

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