IoS 1000th issue: 1991-1995, Ian Jack

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

How 'austere' was the early 'IoS'? Well, the cry of 'Populism!' went up when I suggested running our first front-page picture of the Princess of Wales

When The Independent on Sunday was being invented, its founders cast around for similes that would define the kind of paper it was going to be. One I remember is "a city in Tuscany". If The Sunday Times was big and sprawling like London, the IoS would be small, rather beautiful and perfectly formed – like Sienna, say, or Lucca. My own aspiration for The Sunday Review was that it should be "The New York Review of Books with pictures". How la-di-da it all seems now, in this dark age for newspapers: how ambitious, how elitist, how blind to those words by Rupert Murdoch that no newspaper ever went bust by underestimating public taste. The IoS published some of the best-written, most handsomely presented journalism of any paper in the country. The Sunday Review was copied all over the world. I think those of us who worked on the paper then should be proud of what we achieved.

A lot of the inspiration came from the daily Independent, of course, but differences soon emerged. The daily was against Thatcher but committed to the free market. "Impartiality" was important to the ethos of its editorials. In political terms, its readership was split roughly equally between Labour, Tory and Liberal voters. The IoS ignored this inheritance and grew more obviously "left-wing", though never signed up to any party agenda. Some of our campaigns were prescient – against railway privatisation, for example, or the idea that "choice" was what users of hospitals and schools most wanted. A big moment of departure from the traditions of the daily came when we ran a front-page picture of the late Princess of Wales. The daily abstained from coverage of the royals unless the monarch or her heir said something important. I was sorry to depart from this policy – there were mutterings about populism – but it seemed to me that the monarchy was beginning to crack as an institution and the story couldn't be ignored.

A common charge was that we were too "austere" for a Sunday paper, meaning, I suppose, too serious and high-minded. Once we published the Maastricht Treaty as a special supplement – everybody talked about "Maastricht" as though they knew what was in it, though very few did, including most politicians. You might say that demonstrated the strong autodidactic streak that ran through a few of us, though it also showed we had very little money (EU treaties came free): our total editorial budget was less than The Sunday Times spent on marketing alone; we had to be creative with what we had.

And what we had most was excellent writers. It's impossible to name them all here, but a single issue might contain a Lynn Barber interview, Zoe Heller encountering VS Naipaul, Neal Ascherson in Bosnia, Blake Morrison with Neil Kinnock, Richard Williams at the Olympics, and Allison Pearson and Tony Lane with their television and film reviews. There might be also be a column by William Leith, Nick Hornby or Helen Fielding. Writers made The Independent on Sunday what it was: a writers' paper.

Click on the image above to see Ian Jack's selection

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The beat is on: Alfred Doda, Gjevat Kelmendi and Orli Shuka in ‘Hyena’
filmReview: Hyena takes corruption and sleaziness to a truly epic level
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer / Front-End Designer - City of London

£27000 - £33000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End Devel...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Junior PHP Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Guru Careers: Front End Web Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: Our client help leading creative agencies ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable