Sign the Times Leaders

Times Masthead

The Fink responds to Guido’s call this morning for leader writers to lose their anonymity.  Tom Harris agrees.  Not sure this is a campaign so much as a reflection.  Fink basically says Philip Collins, Michael Binyon, Antonia Senior, Camilla Cavendish, Oliver Kamm, Joe Joseph and himself write the leaders in various combinations and permutations.  Is that really a good reason why the contributors can’t all sign the leader?

Reading between the lines Fink seems to be saying that the editor sets the direction and we just write the stuff.  Like Fink, Guido has written a few speeches for others in his time, Fink knows as well as anyone that actually he who crafts the words gets as great a chance to set the tone and direction as he who speaks or commissions them.  If Fink is intimating that leader writers, like barristers, say things they don’t believe for good professional reasons (such as the editor told them the line to take) that is in itself interesting. Wouldn’t it be better that instead of hiding behind collective anonymity, they took personal responsibility for something they themselves take quite seriously?

Incidentally, some newspapers employ very young leader writers to pontificate.  It seems laughable to be lectured on the strategic geo-political imperatives of Iran by someone who has just completed their gap year.  We deserve to know who the authors of a leader  are so we can judge with what authority they write and weigh their words accordingly.

Incidentally, Guido wrote his first newspaper leader when he was 21 (for The Sun).  As it happens it was on a topic about which the young Guido was pretty well informed and was in any case more of a polemic.  It was re-worded by the great Ronnie Sparks who was the official leader writer at the time during the reign of Kelvin MacKenzie.  It was unsigned.




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Quote of the Day

Rowan Atkinson tells The Times

“All jokes about religion cause offence, so it’s pointless apologising for them. You should really only apologise for a bad joke. On that basis, no apology is required.”

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