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The Independent is a British newspaper published by Tony O'Reilly's Independent News & Media. It is nicknamed the Indy, while the Sunday edition, The Independent on Sunday, is the Sindy. Launched in 1986, it is one of the youngest UK national daily newspapers. The daily edition was named National Newspaper of the Year at the 2004 British Press Awards. Originally a broadsheet newspaper, since 2003 it has been published in a tabloid format.

The Independent is regarded as leaning to the left politically, although it has not affiliated itself to any political party and a range of views can be found on its editorial and comment pages.

The paper had a certified average daily circulation of 215,504 copies in January 2009 a drop of 14.02% on January 2008, as compared to sales of 842,912 for The Daily Telegraph, 617,483 for The Times, and 358,844 for The Guardian.


Creation in 1986

The Independent was first published on 7 October 1986 as a broadsheet. It was produced by Newspaper Publishing and created by Andreas Whittam Smith, Stephen Glover and Matthew Symonds. All three were former journalists at The Daily Telegraph who had left the paper towards the end of Lord Hartwell's ownership. Marcus Sieff was the first chairman of Newspaper Publishing and Whittam Smith took control of the paper.

The paper was created at a time of tension in British journalism. Rupert Murdoch was challenging long-accepted practices and fighting with the print unions. In this atmosphere the new paper attracted staff from Murdoch broadsheets who preferred not to move to Wappingmarker. Launched with the advertising slogan "It is. Are you?", and challenging The Guardian for centre-left readers, and The Times as a newspaper of record, it reached a circulation of over 400,000 in 1989. Competing in a moribund market, The Independent sparked a general freshening of newspaper design as well as a price war. The market was tight and when The Independent launched an independent Sunday edition in 1990, sales were less than anticipated. Some aspects of production merged with the main paper, although with a largely distinct editorial staff.

In the 1990s, The Independent started an advertising campaign accusing The Times and The Daily Telegraph of reflecting the views of their proprietors, Rupert Murdoch and Conrad Black. It featured spoofs of their mastheads with the words 'THE RUPERT MURDOCH', 'The Conrad Black', and below, 'THE INDEPENDENT'.

Financial problems

By the 1990s, Newspaper Publishing had financial problems. Several other newspapers launched in the 1980s (the Sunday Correspondent being one) had collapsed without enough readers to ensure profitability, and The Independent was experiencing similar problems. Two European media groups took small stakes. A number of other media companies were interested in the paper. Sir Tony O Reilly's media group and Mirror Group Newspapers developed substantial stakes by mid-1994. In March 1995 Newspaper Publishing was restructured with a rights issue, splitting the shareholding into Independent News & Media (43%), MGN (43%), and Prisa (El Pais, 12%). In the same month, Whittam Smith left the paper.

In April 1996 there was another refinancing and in March 1998 O'Reilly bought the other 54% of the company for £30 million, and assumed the company's debt. Brendan Hopkins headed Independent News while Andrew Marr was appointed editor of The Independent and Rosie Boycott of The Independent on Sunday. Marr introduced a dramatic if short-lived redesign which won critical favour but was a commercial failure, partly as a result of a limited promotional budget. Marr admitted his changes were foolhardy in his semi-autobiographical, My Trade.

Boycott left in April 1998 to The Daily Express and Marr in May 1998, later to join the BBC as political editor. Simon Kelner was made editor. By this time the circulation had fallen below 200,000. Independent News spent heavily to improve circulation and the paper had a number of redesigns. While circulation improved it did not approach 1989 or restore profitability and job cuts and financial controls took their toll on the journalists and their morale. Ivan Fallon, on the board since 1995 and once a key figure at the Sunday Times, replaced Hopkins as head of Independent News & Media in July 2002. By mid 2004, the newspaper was losing £5million a year. A gradual improvement meant that by 2006, circulation was at a nine-year high.

Format changes

The Independent was originally published as a broadsheet but from September 2003 was produced in both broadsheet and tabloid versions, with the same content in each. The tabloid edition was termed “compact” to distance itself from the more sensationalist reporting style usually associated with "tabloid" newspapers in the UK. After launching in the London area and subsequently the northwest, the smaller format appeared gradually throughout the UK. Soon afterwards Rupert Murdoch's Times followed suit and introduced its own tabloid version. Prior to these changes, The Independent had a daily circulation of around 217,500, the lowest of any major national British daily, climbing to claim a 15% rise by March 2004 (to 250,000). Throughout much of 2006, circulation stagnated at a quarter of a million. On 14 May 2004, The Independent produced its last weekday broadsheet, having stopped producing a Saturday broadsheet edition in January. The Independent on Sunday published its last simultaneous broadsheet on 9 October 2005, and has since followed a compact design.

On 12 April 2005, The Independent redesigned its layout to a more European feel, similar to France's Libération. The redesign was out by a Barcelonamarker design studio. The weekday second section was subsumed within the main paper, double-page feature articles became common in the main news pages, and there were revisions to front and back covers.

On 25 April 2006, a new second section, Extra, was introduced. It is similar to The Guardian's G2 and The Times' Times2, containing features, reportage and games, including sudoku. In June 2007 The Independent on Sunday consolidated its content into a news section which included sports and business, and a magazine focusing on life and culture.

On 23 September 2008 the main newspaper became full-colour and "Extra" was replaced by a "Independent Life Supplement" focusing on different themes each day.

On 28 November 2008, following staff cuts, a move of production was announced to Northcliffe House, headquarters of Associated Newspapers. The two newspaper groups' editorial, management and commercial operations remained separate but shared services including security, IT, switchboard and payroll.


On 23 January 2008, The Independent relaunched its online edition The relaunched site introduced a new look, better access to the blog service, priority on image and video content and additional areas of the site including art, architecture, fashion, gadgets and health. The paper launched Podcast programmes such as The Independent Music Radio Show, The Independent Travel Guides, The Independent Sailing Podcasts, and The Independent Video Travel Guides. Since 2009, the website has carried short video news bulletins provided by the Al Jazeera English news channel.

Political stance

When the paper was established in 1986, the founders intended its political stance to reflect the centre of the British political spectrum and thought that it would take readers primarily from The Times and The Daily Telegraph. However it is now seen as tending towards left-wing views, more a competitor to The Guardian, even though it still features conservative columnists such as Bruce Anderson and Dominic Lawson and tends to take a classical liberal, pro-market, stance on economic issues. A 2004 poll by MORI showed 39% of readers were Liberal Democrat voters while 36% supported the Labour party .

The paper took a strong editorial position against the 2003 Invasion of Iraq and aspects of US and UK foreign policy related to the War on Terrorism following the September 11 attacks. It has also been critical of Israelimarker government policies and highlighted what it refers to as “war crimes” being committed by pro-government forces in the Darfur region of Sudan.

A leader published on the day of the London Mayoral election of 2008 which compared the candidates said that, if the newspaper had a vote, it would vote first for the Green Party candidate, Sian Berry, noting the similarity between her priorities and those of The Independent, and secondly, with "rather heavy heart", for the then incumbent, Ken Livingstone.

The paper has also taken strong positions on environmental issues, and has run campaigns for electoral reform, against the introduction of ID cards and against the restriction of mass immigration to the UK. In 1997 The Independent on Sunday launched a campaign for the decriminalisation of cannabis, however ten years on it reversed that position, writing that it had underestimated the harm caused by the latest strains of the drug. Originally it avoided royal stories, with Whittam Smith later saying he thought the British press was “unduly besotted” with the Royal Family and that a newspaper could “manage without” stories that focused on the monarchy. The Independent sponsors The Longford Prize, in memory of Lord Longford.

Front pages

Following the switch in format, The Independent became known for its unorthodox and campaigning front pages, which frequently relied on images, graphics or lists rather than traditional headlines and written news content. For example following the Kashmir earthquake in 2005, it used its front page to urge its readers to donate to its appeal fund, and following the publication of the Hutton Report into the death of British government scientist David Kelly, its front page simply carried the word “Whitewash?”. In 2003 the paper’s editor Simon Kelner was named “Editor of the Year” at the “What the Papers Say” awards, partly in recognition of, according to the judges, his “often arresting and imaginative front-page designs”. In 2008 however, as he was stepping down as editor, he stated that it was possible to “overdo the formula” and that the style of the paper’s front pages perhaps needed “reinvention”.

In 2007, Alan Rusbridger, editor of the The Guardian, said of The Independent: "The emphasis on views, not news, means that the reporting is rather thin, and it loses impact on the front page the more you do that." In a 12 June 2007 speech British Prime Minister Tony Blair called The Independent a "viewspaper", saying it "was started as an antidote to the idea of journalism as views not news. That was why it was called the Independent. Today it is avowedly a viewspaper not merely a newspaper". The Independent criticised Blair's comments the following day. Satirical magazine Private Eyemarker frequently refers to The Independent as The Indescribablyboring.

The (RED) Independent

The Independent has supported U2 lead singer Bono's Product RED brand by creating The (RED) Independent, an occasional edition that gives half the day's proceeds to the charity. The first edition was in May 2006. Edited by Bono, it drew high sales.

A September 2006 edition of The RED Independent, designed by fashion designer Giorgio Armani, drew controversy due to its cover shot, showing model Kate Moss in blackface for an article about AIDS in Africa.


The weekday, Saturday and Sunday editions of The Independent all include supplements and pull-out subsections -

Daily Monday to Friday The Independent
  • "Independent Life" - A new feature section (September 2008) with its 'Ten Best' also including television schedules, film and theatre reviews.
  • "Education" - Pull-out section with an emphasis on schools, also information on Graduate, Post-Graduate life and UCAS features.
Saturday's The Independent
  • The Information - A compact, primarily listings magazine, including television schedules, film and DVD reviews and events listings for the coming week. It also includes a round-up of the "50 best" items in a particular category. For example over the Christmas period there are weekly supplements of 'Gifts for him' and 'Gifts for her'
  • The Independent Traveller - Contains travel articles, advertisements etc.
  • The Independent Magazine - A features magazine including sections on food, interiors, fashion etc.
The Independent on Sunday
  • The New Review - A features magazine

The IoS website offers more conventional and readily navigable format than the physical newspaper, and offers access to additional content.


The Independent The Independent on Sunday

There have also been various guest editors over the years, such as the Body Shop's Anita Roddick on 19 June 2003 and U2's Bono in 2006.

Writers and columnists

Predominantly The Independent

Predominantly The Independent on Sunday

Notable photographers

David Ashdown
  • Jonathan Evans
  • Brian Harris
  • Tom Pilston
  • David Rose


  1. U.K. paper follows rivals into tabloid format: At The Times, size matters, International Herald Tribune, 8 December 2003.
  4. Full text: Welcome to The Independent's new website, The Independent, 23 January 2008
  5. Full text: Independent unveils revamped website,, 23 January 2008
  7. Mori poll
  8. "So consonant are her priorities with those of this paper that, if we could vote for mayor today, we would place our first-preference cross against her name. This would underscore the importance of the environment to both London and to the rest of the nation. Then, and with rather heavy heart, it would be illogical to do anything other than make Ken Livingstone our second choice." See "If newspapers had a vote, this one would put its cross beside..." (leader), The Independent, 1 May 2008, p. 28.[1]
  9. What happened when the Guardian editor met Piers Morgan, The Guardian, 2 April 2007.
  10. Full text: Blair on the media, BBC News, 12 June 2007

External links

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