As the youngest of Britain's daily newspapers, The Independent is especially open to change, eager to reflect the shifting tastes and interests of our readers. From today, we are introducing improvements to our structure and content that, we believe, will clarify more sharply our sense of purpose as a modern European newspaper.
As the youngest of Britain's daily newspapers, The Independent is especially open to change, eager to reflect the shifting tastes and interests of our readers. From today, we are introducing improvements to the structure and content of the print edition that, we believe, will clarify more sharply our sense of purpose as a modern European newspaper.
Our values remain identical to those of the paper when it launched in 1986: beholden to no political party, economically and socially liberal. We are now firmly persuaded, however, that our values unite naturally within the overall goal of at last making Britain, in the fullest sense, a key force in contemporary Europe.
Our connections with the rest of the continent are much greater than they were when the paper started 16 years ago. The first reason is, broadly, cultural. Thanks to the Channel Tunnel and budget air fares, Britons are as likely to spend a weekend away in Barcelona, Dublin, Rome or Paris as in the UK.
In sport, the European dimension has grown considerably; for instance, European competitions now dominate the domestic programme for our football and rugby union clubs. In the arts, also, exhibitions in Bilbao or Milan now compete for our interest with those at Tate Britain and the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. In our business life, not only are many of our utilities and car plants now under European ownership, but British companies are developing ever-stronger commercial partnerships with corporations on mainland Europe.
But this cultural change is also matched by a political one. Far more than when we launched, decisions taken in Europe affect all of us as much as, if not more than, those taken in Whitehall and Westminster. The Independent will unashamedly reflect that. This is not just a matter of our coverage from Brussels, important though that is. With more space dedicated to European news, we will be covering much more fully the internal political and social life of our EU partners. In every respect, we aim to fulfil the pledge made on our masthead: to take the broader view.
We believe that Britain now needs to succeed where it has historically failed – to shape, as well as be shaped by, Europe's development. This is the opposite of a blindly uncritical approach to the EU itself. We shall argue strongly for greater legitimacy and flexibility in EU institutions in time for enlargement of the Union to Eastern Europe, which we unreservedly welcome.
We are convinced – uniquely among broadsheet newspapers – that Britain's destiny is to play a full part in the leadership of Europe. We shall campaign enthusiastically for membership of the single currency, believing that, economic benefits apart, we should be wielding influence at the centre of the biggest political project undertaken by the EU.
Far from fearing that this would undermine our relations with our oldest and closest ally, America, we are confident it will strengthen them. A Britain that matters in Europe is at once more useful to, and influential in, the US. But because of ties of language and history, the US alliance comes naturally to the UK. By contrast, Britain still needs to work to overcome the psychological and political hurdles that prevent it fully realising its potential as a fully engaged European nation.
This is a decisive change of gear for the paper. But the core journalistic values of The Independent remain unchanged: accuracy and objectivity in reporting, fine writing, an emphasis on analysis, and – even more vital now, when the distinction is increasingly blurred by other papers – a clear separation of news from comment.
So much for the philosophical underpinning of the changes you will notice today: the most immediately striking differences are those of structure. We have moved our editorial and comment pages into the main news section, where they will act as the heart of the newspaper and where our writers, from inside and outside the paper, will continue to be free to express their own opinions across the widest possible spectrum of views. Obituaries, letters and Pandora also move to the centre of the news section.
This has given us the space to develop the review section, which is now in a tabloid size. We have listened to the views of our readers, who feel overwhelmingly that this is a more user-friendly format. We have also responded to demands for more coverage of the arts and more features. We have expanded our listings service and, here too, we will reflect the cultural diversity of Europe with details and reviews of arts events throughout the continent. In the review, as well as much more colour, you will find greater coverage of media, more space dedicated to health, fashion, science and technology, new features (such as a daily Ten Best consumer guide, and a section on family matters on Mondays), plus the education supplement on Thursdays, with more than 1,000 job vacancies.
Some regular features move home or now appear on different days. For instance, Miles Kington is on page 3 of the new review, and weather, now in colour, is on page 23 of the review. We recognise that regular readers often feel uneasy with change, but we hope that the new Independent will soon become familiar, and that you will appreciate this remodelling gives a greater coherence to the paper and more value for you, the reader.
Seeking a more open society, we shall remain an open newspaper. In that spirit, we hope that you will let us know what you think of the changes. As always, it is our relationship with you on which the paper's future depends.