As the youngest national newspaper in Britain, we pride ourselves on our optimism and openness to new ideas. With the reckless enthusiasm of youth, we have tended not to look back, but now that we have reached the great age of 25, we feel that a little retrospection is permitted.
The first edition of The Independent on Sunday, a broadsheet, was published on 28 January 1990. Margaret Thatcher had been Prime Minister for more than 10 years; the Berlin Wall had fallen just three months earlier; and nobody had mobile phones.
Our early days were difficult, not least because another new title, The Sunday Correspondent, had been launched four months before. It folded in November 1990, three days after Mrs Thatcher announced her resignation. We, on the other hand, went from strength to strength.
From the start, we had a design that was clean and classic, with fewer sections than our rivals, and a magazine, The Sunday Review, that was the envy of our peers. We hope that the simplicity and elegance of the package has been preserved, although we are now in compact format and the magazine is called The New Review.
However, it is the quality of our writers and the durability of our values to which we ascribe our continuing success. Today, we review our first edition, and ask what happened to the stories featured therein; and some of our writers who worked for The Independent on Sunday at its launch and who are still with us, or who have returned to us, recall those early days. Some of the great names of British journalism feature on those pages – Sebastian Faulks, Lynn Barber, Ian Jack and many more.
The values of the newspaper have been broadly unchanged for the past quarter-century. It was founded as a socially and economically liberal newspaper, with a concern for the environment and a social conscience. The fight against inequality, at home and abroad, has been our great cause.
Above all, our defining value has been independence of mind. Our sister newspaper, The Independent, was founded in 1986 partly because the existing press seemed to be lined up in predictable ideological and party-political camps. Like it, The Independent on Sunday has never been identified with one party or with a single “ism”.
Our campaigns have been waged without regard to the party-label of the government. The campaign against the Iraq war, for example, was pursued against a Labour government that had achieved many things in domestic policy of which we approved. We were also the first national newspaper to call, in 2009, for British troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan – a goal that became a consensus by the time our last combat forces pulled out last year.
Yet we made it clear that we were not opposed to the use of force in principle. We led the campaign to press Labour and coalition governments to honour the Military Covenant. And we are equally proud of our campaigns on mental health, animal welfare and sustainable restaurants.
We like to think that one of our best-known campaigns, launched in 1997, for the decriminalisation of cannabis, proves our open-mindedness. Ten years later, our editorial view changed. We decided that new evidence of the risk of psychosis, especially in young men, meant that the case for changing the law had not been made after all.
In a general election year, with the vote just 100 days away this week, we hope that you will agree that independent-minded journalism is more valuable than ever. We hope to continue to provide the news, entertainment and comment you want in the years to come.Reuse content