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Victor Lewis-Smith Column: A BUNCH OF LAZY ARTICLES.

Byline: Victor Lewis-Smith

SCOURING the newspapers this week (a foolish habit, I know, because the Brillo pad always smudges the ink), I found myself astonished at the sheer number of hacks whose columns are currently described as essential reading.

I've no wish to besmirch the reputations of this country's journalists (among whose number I humbly include myself), but haven't they noticed that the Great British Public always somehow manage to survive, even when we go on holiday and our essential jottings disappear for a week or two?

Which makes me think that the phrase "essential reading" should be reserved exclusively for the labels on bottles of pills and the instructions on electrical wiring diagrams.

My suspicions were reinforced this week by a survey which discovered that the average length of time that people spend reading a newspaper is 17 minutes.

Think about it. A newspaper typically contains more than 100,000 words, and the average reading speed is about 150 words per minute, so either we've become a nation of speed readers, or 98 per cent of those essential columns are never read by most people, just glanced at en route to the football results or the TV guide.

Which means that newspapers could probably get away with simply changing the headlines on most pages each day, while printing the same text again and again, without anyone noticing.

In fact, looking at some of the repetitive and predictable stuff our rivals publish, perhaps they already do. And, in fact, looking at some of the repetitive and predictable stuff our rivals publish, perhaps they already do.


BRILLO: Pad it out
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 13, 2002
Previous Article:Victor Lewis-Smith Column: Tomorrow's World.
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