Last year this newspaper celebrated its 25th birthday, and next month its print edition will cease to exist, along with that of its brother publication, The Independent. Since the news was announced on 13 February, there has been much comment about the end of an era, which it is.
The Independent on Sunday was born at the end of one era, just months before the fall of Margaret Thatcher. It was created to extend the vision of a principled, non-partisan view of the world of the founders of the daily Independent. We hope we have remained true to that vision. We have been beholden to no party, and committed to the causes of a sustainable environment, a common European destiny and social justice.
We have defended liberty, even when that means speaking up for unpopular minorities, be they immigrants or New Labour donors. We have campaigned against dumb wars while arguing that, in some cases, military force is needed in defence of human rights. We led the opposition in Britain to the Iraq War and, only two months ago, we argued that the case for extending the British bombing of IS into Syria had not been made. We have exposed Britain’s ignoble role in mistreatment and torture in the name of the “war on terror”.
We are proud of the positions we have adopted, which have sometimes marked us out from our colleagues and rivals. In our reporting of al-Qaeda and IS, for example, we have sought to avoid using images that might do the murderers’ work for them. “Here is the news, not the propaganda,” we declared on our front page in October 2014, when Alan Henning, the British aid worker, was murdered in Syria.
And it should not be forgotten that, before last year’s general election, this newspaper alone refused to advocate a vote for any of the parties. Instead, we featured appeals by all three main party leaders on the front page, and invited you to make up your own mind.
We have always tried to offer the distilled best of journalism, and for the past decade and more we sought to make a virtue of the rising cost of print journalism as readers moved online by offering you the best-edited compact paper edition. Much as we wanted to give you something concise and authoritative that looks both back at the week that has gone and forward to events yet to happen, the cultural landscape and the way many people consume news have changed for ever.
Now, we and our sibling titles are trying to get ahead of the next wave of change. So, after Sunday 20 March, you will no longer be able to hold in your hands the distinctive product you currently get. This is sad for those of us who grew up with the tradition of a Sunday newspaper.
As this era comes to an end, however, a new one starts. The Independent, combined with The Independent on Sunday, will become Britain’s first digital-only national newspaper (if that is not an oxymoron). The owners will invest in the website to maintain the high-quality journalism that is so important. Our reporting on politics, economics, business, sport and foreign affairs, especially the Middle East, will continue to be the watchword for serious, impartial and fearless journalism.
We hope that you will enjoy navigating the same news and comment that you get from The Independent on Sunday, and more, in the all-digital format. As ever, please let us know what you like and dislike about the website.
Since 1990, the Independent titles have faced challenging times and survived them. Although this is a seismic shift, the Independent voice continues. And, until the last deadline on the last day, we will strive to deliver you the very best of British quality journalism in the print edition of the finest Sunday newspaper.