Friday, 6 December 2013

Children's author, Lucy Coats organised a

letter to The Times to protest the sacking/dismissal of Amanda Craig. For those of you who don't know Amanda Craig she is the very knowledgeable and very able person who reviewed children's books in The Times. A positive review by her could make an otherwise unknown writer become well known.
Amanda Craig was not paid a lot - after all, she is "only reviewing children's books". Er, hmmm... cough and splutter.
I admire Lucy Coats for trying and so apparently did more than 420 other people. Among them was Nicola Morgan and if you care to prowl over here you will find Lucy's letter and some more words of wisdom by Nicola. I agree with what they have to say.
I then suggested to Nicola on Twitter that people should write individual letters to The Times. She disagreed and said that it was better to shout out loud about children's literature.
Now, I agree we should shout out loud about children's literature but I also think that 420 plus individual letters to The Times asking them to reconsider would have resulted in at least one of them (probably one by Malorie Blackman the current Children's Laureate) being published. Then a lot more people would have read about the fact that children's books were losing their voice.
In saying this I am going on my own experience of how newspapers work - and how activism works. If you want to get something done there is not a lot of point in writing a letter and getting a lot of people to sign it and then hoping that they will publish it. Usually a newspaper won't. If you can pay for it to be published (in the form of an advertisement) you might get it in but a newspaper is not normally bound to accept an advertisement. But, if a newspapers gets hundreds (as it would have in this case) letters about one topic then they will print at least one. They realise it is news and that it is something people care about - and that if they fail to do it then someone else who matters them (usually a rival) will find out.
I think I might have approached the problem differently. I would have asked people to write individual letters to The Times and to people who could influence the decision makers at The Times  - with the goal of getting the decision reversed on the grounds that children's literature IS important because young readers grow up to be adult readers. But, Lucy and Nicola have approached it in their way - which is also valid.
Please go and read what they said. It's important.


helen devries said...

Experience of campaigning tells me that your way works.

Anonymous said...

Cat's way does work - and might well have worked here too.
It is sad to think a great newspaper thinks so little of children's literature. Chris