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23 March 2016

What "Independent" Means

The Independent, a major British daily morning newspaper, announced that it will stop printing a paper copy and have only online editions.  What this means for fish & chip mongers (who probably don't wrap the fried foods in newsprint anymore due to Health Department complaints), I don't know.  What it means for readers who like to sit with a cuppa and the actual Independent newspaper, though, is that there will be one less civilized ritual in the world.

NPR very interestingly marked this event by interviewing Helen Fielding, the author of the Bridget Jones diary series, among other titles.  "Beloved" Bridget Jones of paper and screen got her start in The Independent.  Everyone and his mother was writing about their ordinary lives in a column in the newspapers in the 1990s, and Fielding, working at this paper -- which the NPR Morning Edition announcer kept wanting to be categorized as "left-leaning," because after all, it's called The Independent -- as a junior reporter, too was asked to write about her life as a 30-something "Singleton."  Too shy to reveal her own life, she was able to introduce Bridget Jones to the world as representative of that not-so-rare-but-special breed of female.

While lots of similar columns for hapless singles of all ages, honeymooners, mothers of young children, widows, et al followed this success, could this have been started at any other newspaper besides The Independent?  Hard to say, easy to claim that no, only a "left-leaning" independent newspaper would have the cojones or the lack of pretensions to give the go-ahead.  Nowadays, of course, in this age of blogging, facebook updates and real-time tweets, the younger generations probably could not imagine why it even had to be fictionalized. Why not let it all hang out?

Would Bridget Jones's Diary have come into being and been so wildly popular without the column?  That too is difficult to say, but either way, they did get published as books

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