Paper Monitor: A problem shared...

Woman in 1950 writing a letter

Newspaper readers have 99 problems, but a subbing glitch ain't one.

By its problem pages shall ye know a paper's target demographic.

Exhibit A. The Independent's agony aunt Virginia Ironside. Today she replies to a reader agitated about her seven-year-old son's lack of enthusiasm for his piano lessons.

"The problem is that he just won't practise," frets the correspondent.

"My own music teacher was a very angry woman, and I'm trying not to lose my temper with my son, but it's getting difficult."

Paper Monitor is reminded of the popular Twitter hashtag #firstworldproblems, in which social media users share concerns that could only be considered troublesome to those unconcerned about the imminent prospect of persecution, famine and extreme poverty.

Nonetheless, Ms Ironside encourages the reader to expose her child to a wider range of music. "Drop in on performances anywhere, from folk to flamenco, jazz to musicals," she suggests, seven-year-old boys being notorious for discarding their PS3s for the sound of castanets or a trip to Ronnie Scott's.

Exhibit B. The Sun's Dear Deidre, the column that is to problem pages what Citizen Kane was to narrative cinema.

"My life is a misery due to my man-boobs," writes one reader, "But I can't afford surgery."

Clearly a red top cannot ignore the economic pressures currently confronted by it constituents. Especially not when it has such an impact on their embonpoints.

What is unclear is which agony aunt the New York Times' legion of fact-checkers should turn to. The Grey Lady needs all the help it can get after describing Andy Murray as "English", provoking the ire of his Caledonian compatriots.

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