OUR CHANGES

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The Independent Online
This morning The Independent has changed. It has changed because The Independent exists not only to be newsy and entertaining, but also to be challenging and innovative. When we first launched, 11 years ago, we changed the broadsheet market, bringing fresh ideas and attitudes. We aim to do the same again, by creating a paper that is accessible and easy to read while being serious and responsible; that meets the needs of modern readers, and enables us to give you the best writing and the best pictures in the format that most suits you. For that reason we have spent many months testing this new paper with you, our readers, and with readers of other papers. We are confident that you will find it a vast improvement.

The idea of the new front page is very simple. It will carry the best picture and the best or most interesting piece of writing we have to offer on the day. Sometimes it will be a conventional lead story, sometimes it won't. Alongside, there will be a panel listing all the lead stories of the day, in an easily accessible form.

The soul of the paper is unaltered: our writers, pictures, and our political and cultural approach are all as you'd expect. The vessel, though, is radically different. Big, hoarsely shouting headlines are out. This should make the paper easier to read, but it also means that there are more stories and more words per page than before. If the opposite of dumbing-down is smartening-up, then that is what we are doing.

The main aim of the new look is to be useful. Headlines will be more clearly descriptive. We have introduced pithy explanatory paragraphs at the top of every main story to give you the essence of the piece. Each page has a label; where stories about health, or crime, or whatever, are grouped together, you know what you are getting.

A series of story-packed pages, mainly on the left-hand side, ensures that readers of The Independent will know everything they need to, every day. But there will be plenty of space too for us to dwell on the big subjects. The out-of-date rigid division between home news and international news has been broken down. When we have, say, environmental stories from different countries, it seems perverse to scatter them throughout the paper: they will all go on one page.

We have brought features pages, along with some arts and style pages, back into the main broadsheet section. The sharper second section now has two clear roles. One is to provide special daily supplements containing job-related advertising: "Media+" on Monday, "Network+" on Tuesday, "City+" on Wednesday, and "Education+" on Thursday. Around these goes a daily arts and listings guide, with interviews and other features, called "The Eye". On Fridays, "The Eye" is a more substantial offering, with all the best features and reviews of the week's film openings and music. Tom Sutcliffe's daily television column appears on page three of "The Eye"; the TV listings remain, handily, on the the back. An addition to the paper is Bill Hartston's daily weather column, also in "The Eye".

Other new features include cartoon strips (below). One is the attractively named "Zits", a hugely popular new American strip which is published here for the first time; the other is "7.30 for 8" by Chris Priestley. It takes place at a never-ending dinner party, where a mix of guests chew over the pasta, themselves and the world around us. Chris also takes over our main leader-page slot.

On Saturday, the order of supplements is a little altered, with more about spending money, travel and with the usual array of columnists. Our Saturday magazine is now called "ISM", which stands for Independent Saturday Magazine.

This morning, The Independent is simply the best-looking and best-written paper you can buy. I would ask all readers, new ones and regular loyalists, to give themselves a little time to soak it up. The introductory price is offered partly as a modest thank-you to those regulars who have stood by us in the difficult times, and as an unashamed invitation to new readers to try us for a few days. But this is not a price-cutting strategy: from next Monday we will sell at the normal broadsheet price. We have been working a long time on this, and, after halting the paper's circulation slide, I feel this is the right moment to jump ahead again. Write to me with your reactions. I promise to read every letter, though I can't promise individual replies. And

Andrew Marr

Editor

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