letter from the editor

Share
A quiet word to those readers whose complaint about the new paper is that I am trying to ``pad it out'' with adverts. All editors dream of pages clear of advertising, but you, the reader, would be paying pounds 1 or pounds 1.50 for your paper if we didn't have the adverts.

We have an agreed news-to-advertisement ratio, which has not changed since we started. There is, however, a constant quiet struggle about the placing and shape of ads, and it is part of my job to resist the most disruptive ideas. Some US papers have page after page of supermarket ads with only the tiniest sliver of grey text at the top of them. In Britain, we have resisted that.

Another example: some companies would like to have ``watermark'' ads across news stories and, again, they have been repulsed. The line between carrying commercial space and allowing other organisations to sponsor news or views is a fine one - look at what is happening on commercial TV too - and constantly under threat of being trampled. But it is essential and, I promise, heavily policed.

A more substantial question, raised tangentially by some readers, is simply: ``what is news''? It might seem absurd for the editor of a newspaper to even raise this with readers, but there are good reasons for doing so. There has been what one might call ``the old news agenda'' for broadsheets, which was essentially politics-plus-politics and diplomacy-plus-diplomacy, with business and sports results on the back.

Even now, we are still a little old-fashioned in that way. But My Researches (I put them in capitals to make them seem more Impressive) suggest that very large numbers of people are increasingly turned off by that agenda. They are more interested in, for instance, science, health, the environment, culture, technology and the higher end of consumerism. I think they are at least partly right.

Power has shifted. The power to change our lives has migrated, at least a bit, from officialdom to company directors, inventors, pressure groups, doctors, marketing gurus and so on. The richer you are, the more true it is. For an average middle-class broadsheet reader in 1948 or 1958, longevity and earning-power were clearly related to what happened at Westminster: the NHS and various industrial deals were populist, bread-and-butter issues. Nowadays, personal health questions are as much about the latest information on diet, exercise, new therapies, stress, and environmental pollution.

Similarly, employability isn't settled by government departments but depends on company strategies, niches in markets, training (much of it private) and consumer trends.

Why, therefore, should it follow that stories about health, or the growth in supermarket banking, or air quality, are somehow considered ``soft'', while the latest analysis of a split in the Chinese Communist Party, or what one Tory MP told another in the lobby, is ``hard'', meaning serious and worthwhile. What is going on here?

I believe there is a new agenda which will partly replace the old one and which offers serious journalism the way forward. But what do you think? I've said before that I read all the letters back about these things. Quite a lot of readers' criticisms and suggestions about the new paper have been taken on board and will be adopted. But on this much bigger question, I'd very much like to hear your views.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Forget charging by the page - with books, heart matters more than heft

Katy Guest
Nai or Oxi: whether Greece says Yes or No today its citizens will continue to struggle  

Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy

Rupert Cornwell
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
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