Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Independent: It's not, I am

When the Independent went tabloid I wished it well and often bought it instead of the Guardian. But I have become increasingly irritated by the way its front page tells me what to think every day.

Today, for instance, the front page acted as a cheerleader for the three minutes' silence for the victims of the Indian Ocean tidal wave. Little sign of independence there: for a sceptical view you have to go somewhere like the Spiked website and this article by Josie Appleton.

Yesterday's front page was much worse. "Could the tsunami disaster be a turning point for the world?" it asked 15 celebrities, including Sue MacGregor, Bill Bailey and Dinos Chapman. Next week: Des O'Connor on whether Britain should adopt the Euro.

The Independent no longer gives the impression that it thinks for itself in the way it did in its early days. Remember how it refused to report trivial stories about the Royal Family? While I agree with the stand in took against the invasion of Iraq, for the most part the views it puts over with such stridency these days are not particularly interesting.

So its intellectual ambitions have shrunk with its physical size. This raises again the question of whether a quality tabloid is a contradiction in terms.

Certainly, if a newspaper cannot report the news properly on its front page, there is something wrong with its format.

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