Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Inventing Emma; Sun Editor David Yelland Has High Hopes for His Protegee Emma Jones - but Does She Have Enough to Say to Make the Grade as a Columnist?

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Inventing Emma; Sun Editor David Yelland Has High Hopes for His Protegee Emma Jones - but Does She Have Enough to Say to Make the Grade as a Columnist?

Article excerpt

Byline: JESSICA HODGSON

EVERYONE loves to hate a youth columnist. Like the demons who tell us we're too fat to wear leather, or that our sophisticated posturing looks like student agitprop, they tell us what we don't want to hear with all the sensitivity of a venomous stepchild.

Former Naked City presenter Caitlin Moran, now with The Times, and Emma Forrest, when she wrote for the Sunday Times, were met with vitriol - Forrest ended up running away to America in a fit of self-loathing at the "hate lust" foisted on her by her contemporaries.

At 27, Emma Jones is a late starter compared to Moran, Forrest and the former grande dame of angry young women, Julie Burchill. But her latest appointment has generated almost as much venom. Jones is the face of the new, inclusive Sun. Editor David Yelland has made it clear that, while he does not want to alienate The Sun's core readership, with circulation in longterm decline, he wants more of the young, female readers that have helped the circulation of the Daily Mail.

"We need to develop new columnists - so, for that matter, does the whole market," says Yelland.

"From where I sit, I see a longterm problem for newspapers in finding new voices. Emma is the youngest columnist we've ever had. She is a superb young journalist who will grow in stature."

Jones, the daughter of teachers from North Wales, began her career on the Flintshire Evening Leader. After a brief spell as PA to violinist Nigel Kennedy, she sold a story detailing his eccentricities to a newspaper and was poached by the Sunday Mirror.

She earned further tabloid stripes on the Mail on Sunday, coming to the attention of The Sun's Bizarre team for her coverage of Oasis star Liam Gallagher's "lost weekend" from his then wife, Patsy Kensit. Jones was then appointed editor of Smash Hits magazine, before Yelland poached her back to The Sun a few months later at a salary believed to be close to pound sterling100,000.

Jones's columns, while hitting the right tabloid touchstones, lack the bite or analysis to take the stories on. She lacks the edge of a Burchill or a Lynda Lee-Potter, and gives little impression of being a natural Fleet Street "killer bitch" columnist.

Arguably, this is no bad thing, but without the ability to look at a subject from a new angle, her columns can read like an A-level paper on pop cultural studies.

She appears not to be naturally opinionated, which even the finest of writers would find a hindrance when writing a column.

On drugs, she raises the obvious point that "drugs are available in every secondary school in every town in the country". On abortion, she raises hackles by noting that 200,000 babies are aborted a day, but sheds little light on why.

But it was her appearance on a recent Question Time, described by one newspaper website as "not so much car-crash TV as a 24-car pile up", that really curled toes. …

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