Ten years on - anniversary issue

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The Independent Online
Dreaming is flying; the economics trudges along below. The Independent's first decade has been lived trying to reconcile the founders' dream of a truly independent, free-thinking and radical newspaper with the dour, and sometimes mad economics of the British press. Throughout, our journalism has won us praise and imitation. Throughout, we have been a small newspaper, surviving on our wits in a market dominated by much richer rivals.

In the decades ahead, we confidently predict that neither of these things will change. It would have been so much more convenient for so many big players - Rupert Murdoch, for instance, and the party hierarchies who like the press predictably bundled up in red and blue - for The Independent to have quietly crash- landed. But we have survived and are growing again, despite Murdoch's price war because there is such a thing as an Independent reader.

It is dangerously easy to talk rubbish about newspaper readerships. But you, the people responsible for our existence, seem to us to be sceptical, intelligent, hungry for argument and information, suspicious of conventional wisdom; a wry and insubordinate regiment of modern Britons. So thank you for that; as soon as you become easier to please, this newspaper has lost its purpose.

We were born into a Britain in some ways very similar to today's; our early editions were much concerned with Tory battles over Europe, for instance. In other ways, it was remarkably different. The high noon of Thatcherite self-confidence was blazing and the Soviet empire was intact. In that world, we were independent of political parties because we have an agenda of our own. We were worried about the condition of British democracy. We were pro-European. We didn't think that any of the parties matched our concerns. We still don't.

We were also independent of press barons. Today, we are largely owned by two newspaper groups, the Mirror Group and Tony O'Reilly's Independent Newspapers. But the editor of The Independent remains that rare and happy soul - a journalist without a proprietor whispering political demands in his ear. We have been through tough times - but in these vital ways, our dream has not been grounded.

Many things have changed of course: we have gone into colour; our leading columnists today are as likely to be women as men; we are, very slowly, developing a sense of humour. Some readers don't like changes but most would be surprised if we didn't constantly try to improve.

It has been a turbulent and exhilarating journey so far. During it we have tried to keep faith with you, to be an honest and decent newspaper. Thank you for keeping faith with us.

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