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
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Publishing

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Guru Careers: Report Writer / Reporting Analyst

£25 - 30k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Report Writer / Reporting Analyst is nee...

Guru Careers: German Speaking Account Manager / Account Executive

£24-30K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A German speaking Account Manager ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own