While Peter Preston rails at the Independent under the heading “Indy suffers a list into silly survey country” in his Observer media column today, the main news section devotes nigh on a page to a survey of the top 40 crazes that made the 1980s.
It reveals the decade was shaped by Rubik’s Cube at number one, followed by legwarmers and Pacman.
The Independent on Thursay chose the Sutton Trust report claiming increased numbers of privately educated people in the top echelon of British media for one of its idiosyncratic fronts (graphic of statistics on an old school tie).
Now, Preston makes some good points about the Sutton Trust survey, questioning the way in which the top hundred people were selected, both for the new figures and the 1986 comparison data. He suggests the Indy editor (Simon Kelner, a grammar school boy) did not “read the small print”.
Is he going to voice the same doubts about The Observer’s commentator Will Hutton. He uses the Sutton report today as the peg for a think piece saying “the power of the old school tie has never been stronger and more damaging to society as a whole.”
I suspect that Kelner and Hutton both grasped the survey as a way of expressing a viewpoint they already held strongly. I certainly did in my post when I put forward very much the same case as I did in a conversation over coffee with Peter Preston a few months ago.
I am unable to link to Peter’s piece because only three of the four items in his column have been uploaded to the web. And which one is missing? The one headlined “Indy suffers…” of course.
Is this just a cockup or was the piece pulled after the first edition which I see in Suffolk? An email seeking guidance has been sent.