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Behind the scenes of a national newspaper

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Cosmo Shield | 11:10 UK time, Monday, 16 May 2011

The Independent

More than 12 and half million of us buy newspapers everyday. Whether it be a red-top tabloid, the pink pages of the Financial Times or a local weekly. Factor in free papers like the Metro and London Evening Standard and people who read newspapers online, the reach of Fleet Street is as great as ever, despite falling circulation figures.

I say 'Fleet Street', but the London-based nationals have long since abandoned their spiritual home. Now you can find print journalists from Wapping to Kensington, Kings Cross to Canary Wharf. But where their power-base may have shifted, their power - to set political agendas and mould public opinion - remains.

We're broadcasting today's Richard Bacon show from the newsroom of The Independent. We've wanted to do the show from a newspaper for a long time, but while the Independent readily agreed to be the hosts, it took a lot of time and persuasion to get any of the others to participate.

We invited all of the national daily newspapers to take part in the show but in the end, apart from The Independent, only The Times and The Guardian agreed. It's interesting that newspapers are often keen to talk about other people but are reluctant to talk about themselves. Or to each other.

Despite this, we want the show to give you a glimpse of what goes into the production of a national newspaper and it's also an opportunity to look at the issues facing an industry that millions of us use every day.

The world of newspapers is a fascinating one, and at the moment there seems to be a significant amount of soul-searching into what their role in society is. Are they defenders of freedom of speech, as we have seen in recent weeks in the case of injunctions and superinjunctions, or are they the villainous invaders of privacy, as in the case of phone-hacking?

Newspapers wield tremendous power to shape the way we perceive politicians, celebrities and ourselves and yet very rarely do they let their guard down. Very rarely are we allowed to look behind the curtain.

We will try to follow an issue of the paper from inception to publication. You'll hear an editorial meeting, as well as from the unsung staff who actually produce the paper. We'll speak to the Indy's legal team about the difficult decisions of what to publish or not. Richard will be joined by the author and journalist Nick Davies - a man involved in breaking two of the big stories this year, wikileaks and phone-hacking, and we'll also be asking if the decline of local papers will profoundly affect the future of Fleet Street.

Cosmo Shield is a producer on the Richard Bacon programme


  • Comment number 1.

    Wouldn't it have been more sensible to have chosen the Times ? They try to be more impartial, and the quality of their writing is better.The Independant is more biased to the left, so it makes it look as if you favour their politics.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Good work Cosmo. Made good radio, a rarity for your programme, shame I only caught the last few minutes.

    More substance and less trival trash is good.

  • Comment number 4.

    Wow, the BBC's level arrogance just knows no bounds. It's not that the newspapers don't want to talk to each other. They don't want to talk to the BBC. And I think this is the right things to do. Some of them are clever enough to realise that it's the BBC that's killing them. After all, the MPs expenses story was all the Telegraph's work. But the BBC took it and is STILL using it repeatedly in various TV & radio programmes.
    I hope the newspapers never ever do something as stupid & suicidal as this again.

  • Comment number 5.

    Bacon was poorly prepared. At least if you are going to do a special piece like this it might have been advisable to think through the questions first. Choosing the Indy was also a bit questionable.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    carrie, curmy - the production team approached a number of national newspapers, from across the political spectrum, and the Independent were the first to agree to host the programme. And as Cosmo says, all the papers were invited to contribute, but only the Times and the Guardian agreed to do so.

  • Comment number 8.

    "Bacon was poorly prepared." (post5)

    Well I never :0)

  • Comment number 9.

    And the highlight of his day this afternoon? The 'interview' with High Grant had made it onto a Hollywood celeb web site. He was beyond ecstatic. Pathetic! News agenda anyone?

  • Comment number 10.

    I think he thought that was news.

  • Comment number 11.

    Fascinating stuff.I can hardly contain myself.Sorry I missed it.

  • Comment number 12.

    Jackstumps, I was a little disappointed that the House of Commons statement on the armed forces was abruptly cut short so the interview with Hugh Grant could go ahead. As Richard's show is meant to be a live news show, I would have thought a live statement would take precedent over a reheated discussion from Newsnight.
    The danger with Richard's show is that it is becoming a little too media obsessed and feels at times a little too exclusive. Even Richard acknowledged (I think or maybe it was the guy from the Times) that maybe the public wasn't as interested in phone hacking as the media were.

    In the afternoons I often think that interests beyond the media and its current darlings or bete noirs don't get much of a look in. The show seems to be interested in a very narrow range of ideas. It hasn't been that long since it was broadcast from the set of Corrie and now they are doing something very similar with Downton.

    Finally, I would be really interested to know why other newspapers were reluctant to be involved, did they mention any concerns? I think the reasons for their reluctance could be explained more in this blog to add balance to the piece.

  • Comment number 13.

    Can't think why anyone would be interested in Downton Abbey.

  • Comment number 14.

    Great points as usual Prosperogirl!

  • Comment number 15.

    My problem with Bacon's show lies purely with Richard himself. To be fair we get enough live/ current news from 12 - 2 and in Drive. When Mayo did it we got very good guests - educated people with opinion, scientists, lecturers etc. During the run up to the US election we regularly got very insightful info from brilliant guests. What you get now is utter rubbish aimed at unemployed knuckle draggers who read Heat magazine. The TV reviews are nothing more than an advert for X factor and other ITV trash. Boyd Hilton is actually a well read half decent literature reviewer but you wouldn't know it now as there is no book review.
    Again its not the remit its the content - The producers of this garbage are as much to blame as the inadequacies of RB.

  • Comment number 16.

    Very true Pickle

    I had forgotten about the excellent coverage of the US presidential elections that Simon Mayo provided.

    The type of guests Bacon gets now is extremely limited, I think every comedian in the UK must have been interviewed at least twice.

    Simon Mayo used to fill 15 hours of radio a week with varied, interesting and knowledgeable content and was always fully prepared. Richard Bacon seems to struggle with 8 hours a week and has to turn to trivial filler like help and the moan in.

  • Comment number 17.

    I wholly concur with the comparisons above of SM's well-prepared insightful output to RB's lazy low-brow offering. But perhaps we are all wrong?

    Common on Mr Controller high-time to show the sector RAJAR comparison and shut-up the usual whingers at a stroke. "Honk your horn once if you agree" to quote the improvisation of an under-prepared presenter.

  • Comment number 18.

    How can RB's output this week be classified as news? Downton Abbey, the cringing Hoffs given free publicity for a reality TV show - the standard just goes lower. The licence payers are ENTITLED to the sector RAJAR numbers. How can this be refused?

  • Comment number 19.

    Hi - will the question I raised at the end of my post be answered? Thanks

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    prosperosgirl - sorry, I didn't see your original question. We don't normally publicise the reasons why guests or organisations decline to participate in a programme, unless there's a really good reason to do so.

  • Comment number 22.

    Thanks for replying Hasit. Personally, I think that if the matter is raised as part of the blog then the full story needs to be covered. Otherwise why is it raised in the blog in the first place?

    From the blog -
    "We invited all of the national daily newspapers to take part in the show but in the end, apart from The Independent, only The Times and The Guardian agreed. It's interesting that newspapers are often keen to talk about other people but are reluctant to talk about themselves. Or to each other."


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