The Independent: “Pictures of semi-naked women…”

// 9 October 2008

A bit late on this one, but I read in Private Eye today (No.1220) that the new-ish Editor of the Indpendent, Roger Alton, previously Editor of the Observer, has said:

Froth is fun. Pictures of semi-naked women basically make the world a better place.

Private Eye goes on to call his changes the “new full-colour, tits ‘n’ sport incarnation of the Independent.”

I googled it (oh the humiliation of googling “Roger Alton” + “semi-naked women”!) and found the Guardian interview where I think the quote came from, which I’ve linked above.

Guess what it says next:

He doesn’t see the Guardian as his main rival (“God, no!”) and believes he can take readers off the Mail (which he calls “the best paper in Britain”) and the Times, which he also admires. [my emphasis]

This does not really bode well, especially bearing in mind our recent observations. I used to buy the Indie quite often but this really puts me off.

Remember this is the paper that at one time was edited by Rose Boycott, who co-founded Spare Rib.


On the plus side, Private Eye reports that sales of the Daily Star Sunday have dropped by 25% this year! So it’s not all bad news, readers.

[Edited to add: I just clicked onto the Independent’s Men & Women section of their website. Oh. My. God. It’s just… Awful! I wouldn’t know where to start! Gah!]

Comments From You

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 9 October 2008 at 10:34 pm

Constant images of semi/totally naked images of women may ‘make the world a better place’ or rather it is for the male readers who voraciously devour such images. But given gender equality where are the semi/totally naked images of men so that women too can devour them. Then we might say the world is a ‘better place.’ Even better would be to abandon the constant misogynistic degradation and sexual commodification of women and instead media can begin to represent real women fully clothed. After all real men have been represented fully clothed for centuries.

Only reason Daily Star readership is slightly declining is because male voyeurs can access totally naked images of women in sexually degrading poses via the internet and it is all free!

Laurel Dearing // Posted 9 October 2008 at 11:31 pm

jeez what newspapers DONT have a sign on the 1st page telling women its not for them?


better get out the heat magazine. thats all the news women REALLY need…

Rose // Posted 10 October 2008 at 1:00 am

No, the Independent can’t be going downhill. The Independent has Robert Fisk.

I suppose I’ll read the Guardian instead and read Fisk’s books.

Cara // Posted 10 October 2008 at 10:58 am

I am disappointed. I thought the Independent was better than that. Sigh.

Laurel, LOL yes indeed – all fluffy ladies’ brains can cope with is Heat and Look and Grazia, aka “buy lots of stuff! and feel bad about yourself!” magazines.

Qubit // Posted 10 October 2008 at 2:06 pm

While I don’t disapprove of froth is fun nor do I find pictures of women wearing very little clothes offensive I don’t really want those from a newspaper. I buy a newspaper for news and I buy magazines for froth. However Alton has edited the Observer for a while and I haven’t found that to be offensive or upsetting. I don’t think he is bad as the quotes makes it out to be.

I personally don’t see scantily clad women as a barrier to women since it is fairly normal in society to see these in the media. I would say most women find them ignorable and inoffensive and just a part of ‘sex sells’. I think scantily clad men are more of a barrier to men but this is becoming less prominent as men become more used to it. I think there will be a neutralisation of these images as they become more gender equal, this has already started to happen.

I do find it odd however that it is often cited by some commentators that these pictures of nearly naked male celebrities make men insecure while women are often told they are ‘pathetic’ for being insecure over similar images.

Cazz Blase // Posted 10 October 2008 at 2:54 pm

Catherine, you really should read ‘Flat Earth News’ by Nick Davies, I have it reserved at the library but it hasn’t come back yet. This book has a lot in it about Alton, apparently, and his approach to journalism (tits and sport being his big passions I believe…) and was given extensive preview in a number of papers, including Private Eye. Its about the decline of journalism generally, and the rise of what Davies calls ‘churnalism’ – churning stuff out without researching it.

Sian // Posted 10 October 2008 at 4:35 pm

I’ve though the Independent has had pretty shoddy journalism for the past few years anyway so this doesn’t particularly affect me personally (I have a flick through in someone’s house) but this man is an idiot. Although let’s not forget that Rosie Boycott now writes for the Mail (and I haven’t liked everything I’ve read).

Mr. Stop Boris // Posted 10 October 2008 at 10:13 pm

I lost what passing interest I had in the Independent when it appeared to turn into some sort of low-budget left-wing Daily Mail. (Better than the high-budget right-wing Daily Mail, I suppose.) I didn’t like the Observer under Alton and reading the Guardian’s interview with him in which that quote appeared the other week was enough to remove all doubt about whether I’d like any newspaper under his stewardship.

Meanwhile, I wouldn’t shed too many tears over the Rosie Boycott connection: she’s gone over to the dark side, working for London’s anti-feminist Mayor

thegirlfrommarz // Posted 11 October 2008 at 12:12 pm

A friend of mine who worked for the Observer under Alton told me that his big idea was to make the Observer more like the Daily Mail as well (which explains its precipitous decline in quality on his watch – hello, Observer Woman magazine!). Alton should probably just go and work for the Daily Mail and stop ruining other newspapers.

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