The Independent is a daily national newspaper with colour on every page. In September 2003 it broke into new ground and changed the face of the national quality press market forever by being the first national daily paper to adopt the compact format. Editor Roger Alton talks to FeaturesExec about the publication, PRs and his favourite film:
Who reads The Independent?
Obviously the most discriminating people in Britain.
What subjects do you cover?
We are a general interest newspaper, but we have great strengths in sport, politics, the environment, the arts and foreign affairs.
What makes you different from other newspapers?
The quality of our writing and the passion of our writers.
How many staff and freelance writers are there on the team?
Do the same journalists work on both newspaper & website?
There is a dedicated web team, but clearly all our newspaper journalists also work for the website.
Do you have anything new planned this year?
That would be telling.
Do you work closely with PRs? (e.g for events/supplements)
Up to a point: some journalists get very snooty about the PR business. I am not one of them.
Do you have any advice for PRs?
Understand the newspaper or section you are dealing with. It would be a waste of everybody’s time if you rang me up to tell me about say, a new range of motor mowers.
What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
Not sure I am quite the person to answer this. The truth though is normally the best way.
Do you have a PR pet hate?
Not really. I like PRs very much: they are cheery, funny, pretty, smart, usually well-informed and sometimes the source of a free drink, which is a pearl beyond price.
What is the best time for PRs to contact you & what is your deadline for contributions?
What interests you most about your job?
Everything: you couldn’t ask for a more exciting time to be doing one of the most exciting jobs in the world. I just wish more people would be willing to pay for their news though!
What led you to becoming editor of The Independent?
I have always loved the paper. And I was free.
What was your first job?
I worked on the Observer in the 60s after leaving school. Fantastic fun, that would give anyone a passion for journalism. You didn’t have to get up too early and most of the job involved eating, drinking and going to the movies.
What’s your favourite film, and why?
I have always loved movies and have usually taken the view that there is no such thing as a bad film. So my favourite film is normally the last one I saw, apart from two recent Clive Owen flicks, Duplicity and The Internationalist, which were both awful. But I want to cheat here and say my favourite film is one I haven’t even seen yet: it’s In The Loop, the new film based on Armando Iannucci’s brilliant TV series The Thick Of It. And any film which has a swearing consultant is going to be a classic.
Which famous person would you invite to dinner?
Aaron Sorkin, who has written a number of fine films, and of course The West Wing, the best TV series ever, quite often when he was off his head as far as I can gather. And Doug Scott, the great Himalayan climber and one of the most admirable men in the world, though I am not sure how they would get on.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what one thing would you hope to have with you?
Some sushi and vast amounts of very very cold, throat-numbingly cold, white wine.
[img|jpg|The Independent editor Roger Alton]