Covering the attacks on the US and the war on terrorism has redefined The Mirror and made it distinctive from The Sun, according to editor Piers Morgan.
He spoke at the conference of his relief at being able to junk celebrity journalism and Big Brother buy-ups to cover the crisis.
Morgan confessed to being fed up with the "inane" Big Brother, even though the series was such a circulation builder in the summer that inmate Helen was able to sell her exclusive story to a rival for £250,000.
"I remember thinking, ‘has it come to this?’," Morgan said. "Now, after 11 September, it is a great time to edit The Mirror. People want to read about the crisis and are rejecting Big Brother trivia." He said Mirror secretaries were talking about anthrax and not soaps or Robbie Williams. He estimated that sales of The Mirror were up 2.5 million copies since 11 September.
He claimed The Sun had become "confused" and was widely ridiculed for switching back to stories such as the Queen having a rubber duck in the bath while The Mirror went all out on its war coverage.
"We are trying to do something new and all the journalists are enjoying it." Morgan told the conference that 11 September had "redefined the way I think about producing The Mirror and, I think, for the better". In future he would blurb Big Brother on the front rather than splash on it again. "I think we forgot what was important." lThe Daily Telegraph’s Bill Deedes told the conference that newspapers were better off being owned by businessmen rather than the old press barons who sought political influence.
"We are safer with people who run newspapers to make money rather than trying to gain political power," he said.
"The crux of our profession is our credibility. When people cease to believe us then we are dead.
"It is imperative they feel they can get serious news from us. People like to know what’s going on, that’s what keeps us all in business and never more than now.
"A good reporter always has been, still is and will always be, the mainstay of our profession."
By Jon Slattery and Ian Reeves