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Paper Monitor

10:39 UK time, Friday, 18 January 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Shesh. Talk about over-egging the pudding. No-one died in the Heathrow crash-landing, or even sustained what might be termed a serious injury - hence, perhaps, the Independent's decision not to mention it until page five.

But the Daily Mail seems unwilling to let it be the story that it is - a dramatic "what if..." tale, with cracking pics of a wrecked plane. Despite every other media outlet quoting passengers as saying that it seemed no more than a bumpy landing until the oxygen masks dropped - oh, and someone in first class spilt their coffee - the Mail's headline is: "EVERYONE WAS SCREAMING. KIDS WERE CRYING... WE THOUGHT WE WERE GOING TO DIE."

A bit too much hysteria for this time of day, so back to the Independent. In Paper Monitor's younger days, one had a particular affection for the Indie. Maybe it was a generational thing, or youthful idealism perhaps, but the whole exercise seemed somehow noble and fresh.

The years have been harder to the paper than - one hopes - they have been to oneself or indeed any Monitor readers. (Being told one looks as fit and healthy as the Independent is the sort of thing Simon Cowell's brainy brother might say.)

So what to make of the news, denied by the paper's editor, that the paper is considering going free like Metro? If the Indie was free would you pick it up?

Most of the problems with it as a newspaper are that there's not much news or indeed paper. And that quality that originally made it the Independent - its independence from pushing an editorial line - is also long gone in a flurry of dolphin covers. The calculation is that there is more of a market among those people who think of Blair as Bliar and the standby button as public enemy number one than there is among conventional newspaper readers - a calculation on which Paper Monitor is completely unqualified to comment. It initially seemed to be working but, SDP-style, it hasn't led to the breaking of the mould that was the ambition.

Someone out there must be prepared to defend a paper which today didn't put the Heathrow crash on pages 1,2,3 or 4. Which runs a story today about prospects of the Rolling Stones leaving EMI which the Times covered in full yesterday. And which gives the Ipswich murder trial all but a few paragraphs.

Paper Monitor is almost wanting to be convinced there is still a point to the Indie. It still has great characters - Simon Carr for instance - but would some Indie loyalists out there please use the comments field below to explain to the rest of us what it is that still attracts?


  1. At 11:29 AM on 18 Jan 2008, Andrew wrote:

    I too want to like the Independent, because I'm not Labour devotee like the Guardian, and most of the rest of the press is too right-wing. Unfortunately you hit the nail on the head with this comment:

    Most of the problems with it as a newspaper are that there's not much news or indeed paper.

  2. At 12:40 PM on 18 Jan 2008, Nick Jones wrote:

    I only ever bought it for the Sudokus, sorry, and that was 2-3 years ago.

    I'd tackle the 'Quick' Sudoku on the back page first and then there were three more of varying degrees of difficulty least I think it was the Independent.

  3. At 12:53 PM on 18 Jan 2008, Steve, Bristol wrote:

    Well, the Tuesday crossword by Virgilius is very good. And Howard Jacobson's column on Saturday is worth reading.
    Buying the Independent is like patronising an ill-run, overpriced corner shop - you're getting a bad deal, but by supporting such an obviously-doomed loss-making small business you also get a heart-warming buzz of civic-mindedness and social responsibility.

  4. At 01:49 PM on 18 Jan 2008, Lena wrote:

    Oi PM, leave the Indie alone. It has a resolutely independent spirit and is the only paper out there not to slavishly follow the same old tired news agenda as all the others.

    It is intelligently written, has some great columnists (I get into a right old panic at the thought of missing a Mark Steel piece), and without it I'd have to read the Guardian.

    It is the Newsnight of the paper world and a Very Good Thing.

    Lena, Cambridge

  5. At 02:33 PM on 18 Jan 2008, Jonathan Dumbell wrote:

    I've been buying the Indie since its birth and have no intention of changing. I don't like all the writers, Bruce Anderson especially, but then thats the whole point. It challenges a lot of my perceptions.

    Nor does it concentrate on meaningless celebrity nonsense, or the Windsors.
    lets face it the choice is clear:

    The Times - murdoch rag
    Telegraph - right wing tosh
    Guardian - ghastly typeface
    Mail - Der Sturmer
    Express - the literate chav's choice
    Sun - toilet paper

    so its the Indie all the way for me!!

  6. At 02:38 PM on 18 Jan 2008, Andy D, Birmingham wrote:

    The Indy is still relevant as it has excellent, objective reporting, faithfully relaying fact over hype (most of the time) and provokes thought in its op-ed section. As well as this, the subtly sarcastic tv listings.

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