Letter from the editor: 10 January 2011
Just before Christmas, we launched our own version of The X-Factor, the first prize being the chance for one of our readers to appear in the forthcoming TV advertisement for i. No Simon Cowell. No public humiliation. No faux-sympathetic interview. No having to listen to One Direction in rehearsals. Just instant stardom. The winner was Ruth Stivey, a 27-year-old i reader from Devon, and last week she spent a day on set filming the advert, which involves a number of people (one or two of whom you may recognise) in different settings extolling the virtues of this newspaper.
We’re not expecting to win an Oscar; a nomination would be nice, though. I spoke to Ruth yesterday, and I’m afraid she’s had her head turned. “It was quite an eye-opener,” she said. “From the moment I showed up, and they asked to go into make-up, I felt like a star.” It was, however, more Cricklewood than Hollywood: the section of the film in which she appears (pictured below) was shot at Old Street Underground station in east London. Nevertheless, Ruth said it was an “unforgettable experience” and added that she “was surrounded all day by gorgeous people”. (Rather like working here, I told her.) You’ll be able to make your own mind up about i’s new poster girl: the advert begins its run next Sunday, and will be on a television near you for some time. No flipping!
Letter from the editor: 7 January 2011
As ever, I can count on you to express your opinions in a frank and forthright manner. Yesterday, I asked for your views on our political coverage; how much, how little and, in particular, whether we were right not to have a leader column expressing opinion on the political matters of the moment. “I am not remotely interested in your personal opinion any more than I would be in the opinion of the man in No 74”. No, that wasn’t the deputy chairman of this newspaper (although he did say something similar); it was reader Ted Brown, who, neatly, concisely, and trenchantly, captured the mood of most of you who wrote in to put in your 4p (plus Vat)-worth. “We just need the bare facts,” continued Mr Brown, “and are all grown-up enough to make up our own mind when presented with the facts.”
Dorien Thomas of Pontypridd was equally certain that we should keep things as they are. “If you departed from your mother-ship’s admirable political neutrality,” he wrote, “you’d lose us in droves,” while Ann Davies spoke for many other correspondents. “After years of having newspapers talk down to me as if I can have no opinions of my own,” she said, “I found i.” So there we have it: even if we had interesting opinions, you don’t want to hear them!
As far as the depth and breadth of our political coverage is concerned, most of you seem to think we’ve got the balance right, although there is a general disenchantment with the body politic. One text urged us “to question the purpose and motives of all MPs - especially those who lie!” The political news cycle will be back in full swing next week, so enjoy the weekend and prepare to get angry!
Letter from the editor: 6 January 2011
Those of you who have nothing better to do than read this letter will have known yesterday what everyone now knows: that much of the country has rounded up the bank holiday and seems to have taken the rest of the week off (see page 4 ). I was taken to task by one reader in London, who said that his journey to Canary Wharf was as painful and congested as usual, but in the main the capital’s roads were giving a passable impression of a Sunday during half-term.
Thank heavens, therefore, for one, often-derided, group of people who, fresh from the ski slopes and the country seats, are very much in evidence. The nation’s politicians are filling every available bit of air time in an attempt to wrestle the New Year agenda to their purposes. George Osborne’s been defending the rise in VAT, Nick Clegg has been furiously trying to shore up the Lib Dems’ flagging poll ratings ahead of a potentially disastrous by-election, and Ed Miliband is attempting to breathe some life into Labour’s term of opposition.
These are all stories of importance, and you will find them reflected in the pages of i. But how much politics do you want with your tea and toast? When we launched thispaper - back before the students took to the streets, back when everyone was still agreeing with Nick, and when Mr Osborne was carrying a few kilos less - we resolved not to have a leader column expressing a political opinion and to be very selective in our reporting of politics, eschewing the minutiae of what went on in Westminster, which often has little or no relevance to the way we lead our lives. We decided - for better or worse - that the coverage of politics might, like most other subjects, actually benefit from a little concision.
So what informs our decisions on what political stories to cover? The simple rule of thumb is: does this affect people in Barnsley or Barnstaple or Braemar? But that is, of course, too crude an instrument. There are many stories which have no direct effect on your life, but are nevertheless revealing and/or interesting. Journalists assume that everyone’s as interested in the nuance of politics as they are, so we may not be the right people to make these judgements. So tell us what you think. How much politics is toomuch? What aspects of political life are you interested in? Should this paper have a political leaning? And what’s the best diet for George Osborne? As the students showed, this is the age of direct action. So get mobilised and let us know!