There are moments in life to be daunted. Reading through the pieces from my illustrious predecessors, I am struck by three thoughts: 1) their memories are so much better than mine (I can reel off the Morton team that went down 2-1 to Aberdeen on 1 December 1979, but can't always recall what we splashed on last week); 2) they had much more of a sense of focus in their editorships; and 3) they were possibly, more likely probably, miles better at this than I am. Still, when someone asks you to edit The Independent on Sunday – small, perfectly formed, and a brilliant, brilliant paper with a big, big heart – you don't have to be asked twice.
The truth is that I fail the glass-half-full test every time. It drives my wife – one of those perennially, and annoyingly, upbeat people – bananas. I can never look back on an edition remotely satisfied, even when I know it's been bloody good. I see the mistakes; the things we could have done better.
But when I do look back over the past year and a bit, I see much in which to take great pride. With the energetic leadership of Maggie Pagano on the business side, we grasped hold of the impending credit crunch pretty much ahead of the pack; Jane Merrick and John Rentoul have made sure we have bucked the prevailing, easy, lazy Westminster narrative throughout – so that when, last summer, everyone else was saying it was all over for PM Brown, we (correctly) predicted an imminent (if temporary) bounce, and we were also right in highlighting problems ahead in the relationship between David Cameron and Boris Johnson. And under Geoffrey Lean, we keep plugging away on the environment, easily the greenest paper on the newsstands. Our New Review is the liveliest of any Sunday magazine; our new sports section is first-class; and, thanks to David Randall inter alia, you'll always find plenty of bounce throughout our pages.
From day one, of course, the doom-mongers have predicted our demise. And today we face fearsome challenges from the internet and 24-hour news channels, while the recession, it is fair to say, is causing us the odd difficulty or two. And no one will deny we need to be selling more. Many more.
But. We find ourselves at the beginning of our next millennium in strangely determined, and even excited, mood. When the upturn comes – surely it must! – we shall be well placed. We pledge to provide a sharper, wittier, more thoughtful take on events than you'll find elsewhere. We will strive to be positive – witness our Pink List, Green List, last week's Happy List, and our recent issue celebrating the nation's much-maligned teenagers.
And we are going to resolutely plough our own furrow – to stand alone from the pack, simply because we prefer the counter-intuitive to the orthodox. The thoroughly Independent on Sunday, in fact. And, as I look ahead, I like to think of that simple slogan Avis used when it was taking on Hertz, the car-hire market leader, all those years ago: "We try harder". Well, we do, and like Avis did, I am convinced the IoS and our readers will get our reward in the years ahead. To the next 1,000 issues.
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