What puzzles me most about the rumours that Rod Liddle is being seriously considered as the next editor of The Independent is that he is part of the traditional media’s past, not its future.
He does opinionated, personal rants which feed many readers preconceptions. Insults are thrown around. Facts are scattered over arguments to dress up an existing view rather than the basis of deciding what to believe (hence Liddle’s inaccurate claims about crime figures in London have, despite the mistakes being repeatedly pointed out to him, not resulted in any apology or admission of error).
There was a period of time – not that long ago – when such people seemed to be the future of the newspaper industry. Big name columnists with big opinions attracted big salaries because, whilst you might be able to get the news anywhere you could only get XXX’s column in one place.
But with the rise of news and political blogging there’s no shortage of highly opinionated, often rude and at times careless with the facts writers. If you’re just a blogger writ large, why should the public pay to read your output when there are so many other free alternatives available?
And if you really want to go down the road of opinionated, loud-mouth columnist being in charge of a newspaper, The Independent would be better off with Paul Staines who does the Rod Liddle style – but also sometimes gets a big news story, facts all properly lined up.