The 2012 Cheltenham Festival of Literature is in full swing. On Friday and today, amidst the plethora of events, main sponsor, The Times, held its leader conference live. I hardly ever read that newspaper these days, yet it was a privilege to sit in on this process.
Each day at midday, eight highly intelligent people grapple with the day's main stories, one after the other pitching in on the question, which are the most important? Until James Harding says, "Here's what we're going to do." The youngest person to become editor when appointed five years ago, there's no doubt it's James who's the boss, resolving not only what subjects should fill the leader columns in the next day's paper, but also exactly how The Times should "thunder" on those stories.
Rising from the meeting after an hour, the appointed journalists trot off to research their subjects, finalising their 600-odd word leaders in time for a six o'clock deadline. Brilliant theatre!