Lawson back in the spotlight as Indy columnist

By Dominic Ponsford

Sacked Sunday Telegraph editor Dominic Lawson has broken his silence
to condemn dumbing down in the press on his return to frontline
journalism as one of the Independent’s main comment writers.

Lawson has also been signed up to write longer features and comment
pieces for the Mail on Sunday’s review section and is carving out a
career as a TV pundit with regular appearances on More4’s topical talk
show The Last Word.

Lawson, 48, was abruptly sacked in June after
10 years as editor of the Sunday Telegraph. He is now understood to
have reached a settlement with Telegraph Group and severed all
contractual ties.

Lawson will write two 1,100-word pieces a week to appear in the Independent’s comment section.

Lawson
said: “Whereas so many newspapers have recently dumbed down, the
Independent has gained circulation by continuing to treat its readers
as grown-ups. It challenges rather than condescends. It sets the
political agenda rather than following last year’s fashion.”

Lawson
added that he felt there had been a “meeting of minds” between him and
editor Simon Kelner and described his new boss as a “principled and
courageous” editor.

He said he found the prospect of writing for
a newspaper with more left of centre readers exciting and added: “It
will be challenging for me and challenging for the readers.”

Lawson
said he was going to enjoy “the greater freedom and removal of the
burden of office”, but added that editing a daily paper was “a gap in
my experiences as a journalist”.

He said: “You want to try your
best to become a master of your craft and it’s hard to say you’ve
become that if you haven’t had that experience on a daily paper.” But
he was not putting himself forward for such a role, he said.

Lawson
was unable to comment on the circumstances of his departure from the
Telegraph, but said: “I had the most fantastic summer, being a cricket
enthusiast… and I’ve discovered my children’s names, how old they were
and where they went to school.”

Independent editor Simon Kelner said: “I’m delighted to recruit someone as knowledgeable, experienced and wise as Dominic.”

He
added: “With the election of David Cameron, the Tories are a force to
be reckoned with in a way that they haven’t been over recent years and
I sensed the need to have someone who reflected a right-of-centre
opinion.”

Kelner said the Independent is expected to experience
its second consecutive year-on-year circulation rise for November when
the ABC figures are published next week – which will prove that it has
withstood the onslaught from the relaunched Berliner-size Guardian.

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