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March 16, 2008


T. Garrison

After a very long time I've bought the IOS today. Usually i buy The Independent during the week and opt for The Guardian on weekends. There always seems to be something wrong with the weekend edition of The Independent, something that puts me off, something I cannot really explain. Therefore I was positively surprised with todays IOS. Clearly structured, more news, very interesting articles, excellent in terms of layout and design. Great also the World News pages. Really, it was truly a pleasure to work my way through the IOS today. Looking forward to next Sunday. Sorry Guardian!

S Joinson

Well I'm certainly glad you took the travel section out of the main paper and gave it a home of its own. The result is, I believe, a much less cramped paper (apart from the orphaned motoring section that is). And, like the previous contibutor, I welcome the return of designated world news pages. These relatively minor changes make the paper feel a much more coherent and substantial read. I think you're definitely moving in the right direction.


Here are my comments in no particular order.

Too expensive, both in terms of production and content. Feels cheap, poorly laid out with stories lost in the adverts, poor quality paper, too much padding, like Weeklypedia, not enough news. Too many non-stories like 'skin colour', 'festivals of Britain', 'green allotments', 'Iraq in five years'. Why, incidentally, is this last piece in the news section? It's speculation!

(Yes, I still buy because we like two Sunday papers, you have Alan Watkins and you are not the Sunday Times/Telegraph - but it doesn't make me like you any better if if feel that I am being overcharged).

The Reader's Editor is ex-management and it shows. Either adopt the Guardian model or don't bother. His response to the 'plastic bag' issue could have come from Mr Kellner.

Poor quality reporting. Did Cole Moreton actually visit Dewsbury? Nothing new at all in his piece. And to allow him to write sentences like 'unconfirmed reports suggested he was being questioned about the possibility of other family involvement' is disgraceful. Haven't you learned anything from the McCann affair?

Poor quality writers. Street Porter is too often a rehash of a news story with a few mundane thoughts attached. Entirely predictable comments on Caroline Flint. Sands has nothing to say apart from the obvious and dragging her daughter into a story is a mark of desperation. As for Joly - what is he on about? Who is interested in his golf trip, his Porsche, his 'wads of notes'?

Poor quality subs. 'Revealed' appears far too often in headlines. Read the headlines over the pieces by Sands and Joly. Meaningless.

Finally, this page. Why is it so poor? Why is the link to the Reader's Editor out of date? Where are the archives? Why does Durack blog on the Independent page? Why no IoS blogs?

John Mullin

I am the editor of The Independent on Sunday, and, while there has hardly been exactly what you might call a tidal wave of comment on the changes we introduced last week, I did say I would reply to points raised. I was able to say at our first conference of the week on Tuesday that the comments on the message board were running two to one in our favour. It raised a laugh when I said that was in fact the exact margin because there were precisely three postings. I suppose one has to take the view that unhappy customers are more likely to vent their spleen.

In any case, I would like to thank T. Garrison and S. Joinson for their postive feedback, and I would particularly like to thank clifford for what is a very thoughtful response. If you want to send me your e-mail address, clifford, I would be very pleased to give you a more personal reply. My address is

In general, though, I believe we did fewer what clifford calls 'non-stories' and I see as lighter, lifestyle items last week than for some time. We certainly need them for leaven the mix, and because, well, they can be very interesting if not world-shattering. I am aiming to do fewer of these pieces (about the same number as last week, usually) but to do improve the quality of them.

I would also point out that we devoted two news pages to the Tibet crisis, two to the issue of the Zimbabwe refugees, and six to Iraq (and the scenarios page is perfectly at home there. We also brought back dedicated world pages. All that has changed the balance of our coverage, and seems to me to demonstrate a real commitment to serious news and analysis.

I don't agree with you, clifford, on your criticism of Cole Moreton's piece. I think it was a very difficult story to write, for all sorts of reasons, and I think he got the tone absolutely spot on. He was, of course, in the town - in fact, it was his second visit since Shannon went missing. His first piece was a very fine comparison between the reactions to the disappearances of Shannon and Madeleine McCann two weeks earlier.

I very much take on board your criticisms about our presence on this site. As in many areas, we really need to be doing much better. I will be trying to sort that out very soon.

John Mullin
The Independent on Sunday

jeff wright

Decided to buy the IOS today after seeing it was on offer at £1,I was very pleased that I did,enjoyed the read and was most impressed with the paper,are you going to keep the paper at this price,I am sure that if you do you will get more readers on board !


A real pile of shite.
Liberalism at it's worst.The rag is an attempt to appeal to the well off middle classes who pretend to have a social consience,and are probably making megabucks working for some goverment quango.
The indy does little but scrape the surface of what is happeneing in the real political and economic world.It is as responsible for the promotion of a corrupt and injust society as the FT and the telegrapgh simply because it pretends to give the impression that it is left wing and progressive.
Myself I hate the passive liberalism that the indy represents.
The sunday version is a bigger wankfest than the rest of the week.

Neil McGowan

So, you've given Rent-a-Tool a soapboax from which to announce Miliband's candidacy for the premiership... and then you run blogs on NHS food and Foster-Parenting??

Have you lost the plot accidentally - or have you hidden it deliberately??


I'll get the paper this weekend to see how it is.I have not the time to read the paper during the weekends,but I manage reading the articles by Robert Fisk.The paper should run a column for poems.The language of poems and poetry should be promoted because,this will soften the general mood of the public.Why has our society become so aggressive?


I did the previously unthinkable and gave up buying the Observer after the editor supported Tony Blair and the Iraq war.

I hope I won't have to give up the Independent for a similar reason.

Neil McGowan

I see John Mullin's promise to answer all the points made here has turned out to be empty BS.

John Mullin

One aspect that amuses me about message boards and blogs is how some folk feel free to be childishly rude, and usually anonymously. You wouldn't do it in a phone call, would you? I'm thinking here of 'Jim' rather than you, Neil McGowan. But, if you look back at this message board, there haven't been any points made since I last wrote. So I don't view my promise as 'empty BS' at all. Questions or queries made in a grown-up fashion will be answered.

John Mullin

Neil McGowan

It's always nice to see you every couple of months, John.

Perhaps you can tell me why you deleted my message about Gordon Brown today? It didn't break your rules. It listed Brown's multiple failings objectively and without obscenity. You don't really "get" blogs, do you, John?? They're supposed to be an interchange of views - not an endorsement of the Editor's personal biases.


Neil, I'm guessing that Mullin doesn't actually moderate these forums himself in the same way that he doesn't actually write every article in the newspaper and every headline and take every photograph.

Neil McGowan

Y'know, you could very well be right, Jakers. Once-a-month would be rather little, for a Moderator.


The Indy on Sunday is not as good as the weekday paper although has improved recently with better news and less non-news. I won't buy the Observer as it's rabid Labour and I am a Tory, but I think it's a more interesting paper newswise than the Indy if only it could be less biased. The Indy on Sunday seems to try to be all things to all people. The magazines are drivel most of the time. I'm not very keen on the travel sections as they rarely go anywhere that interests me and I don't like the layout much but they aren't too bad. The general magazine is the problem. It's incredibly boring and most weekends it and the Saturday's similar magazine go straight in the bin almost unread. There isn't anything to read ie. Also you STILL - in spite of my and I expect other complaints in the past - feature interminable fashion pages of women who look half dead with clothes hung on their scarily spindly bones and faces that look sick. Perhaps their BMI's are "OK" to you but they certainly don't look good. The Daily Mail, which I read increasingly as it is always interesting and doesn't act as the Indy does as though to contemplate any other party in power than Labour is not just unthinkable but outrageous, doesn't feature models that look as though they've just got out of Belsen but young people who look healthy and cheerful and have flesh on them. I thought your paper was anti over-thin models? Can you also find some that look happy instead of utterly miserable?

Politically, the Sunday paper is limp. John Rentoul clearly still worships New Labour and Blair although he can occasionally write a good piece if he can get away from drooling over Labour and excusing Blair everything. You appear to be trying to grab the LibDem readers now that the once tolerable LibDem Guardian has gone not just rabid Labour but ranting, screaming loony Labour and has a certain particularly strident columnist I would pay to avoid, not pay to read. I think you are grossly biased against Tories most of the time and it is only that I have been a fairly loyal reader since the Indy commenced and Ken Clarke has or had some connection with your paper that keeps me still reading it most of the time. But in 2005 at election time you weren't just biased but deeply offensive against the Tories and I moved over to the Mail for weeks. Last week the whole Indy was blatantly terrified that Boris would win London - it would have been comical if it hadn't been for the ill manners exhibited in the ridiculous insults levelled at Boris. I think a decent newspaper should be critical but avoid puerile insults and the Indy went completely over the top about Boris - what on earth has he done to you? You might also remember that not everyone in England actually lives in London. Some of us, including ex-Londoners like me, live in quite civilised areas out in the sticks are quite happy here and we aren't really quite so interested in London as you are!

I think a paper calling itself Independent should be Independent, not biased to any party. In the West Country where I live, the Labour party barely exists and we watch its antics in the rest of the country with amused astonishment when it isn't actually trying to completely wreck our part of the country as well as the rest of England at which we do get pretty annoyed at the interference. It is a close fought and often bitter LibDem-Tory contest in the West Country and we have our own completely non-Labour issues that you might notice occasionally.

I approve the better coverage of politics recently in the Sunday paper. But the letters page is simply dire - surely you can find some more intelligent letters to print? The weekday letters page is excellent, the best thing in the paper every day but the Sunday letters page is a perpetual disappointment.


Have you done away with the magazine section? It didn't appear with this Sunday's edition?


As a woman I appreciate the Independent. Plenty of female views to balance the paper. I appreciate that. God help us if we only had the telegraph or Murdoch's porn.

Brigid Slater

I bought the IoS this Sunday because of the book, Encyclopedia of World Religions Part 2 L-Z.
Unfortunately it was missing.The New Revue Magazine was in a plastic cover,but there was no sign of the booklet. I haven't been able to find any contact query this,so hence this message. I don't find your paper laid out very clearly. Things seem to be a bit of a mish mash.
Hope someone can help me.

John Mullin

Brigid - if you care to send me your contact details, I will sort out a copy of the book for you. My e-mail is

Lesley Featherstone

Re Nicholas Lezard's Radio Column I have been experiencing the same problems with the BBC Listen Again feature using my computer. Thankyou for highlighting this in your column.

Scott Bryan

The paper has got substantially better and more comprehensive throughout the last few months, I'm able to feel like I'm being informed but yet not flicking between endless pages like other Sunday titles. NewsWeek, Comment, Weeklypedia and CentrePiece are really accessible features, nice Sunday reading after reading the aftermath of the Saturday papers.

The only problem seems to be its price, and its size. Without NewsWeek and the magazine, it feels like a regular daily paper, with little else in the way of new columnists and specialist features and news reports that makes £1.80 feel justified. Travel as a separate supplement also feels rather unnecesssary. It just sometimes also feels a little bit samey, nothing has truly changed in the last year, and if I forget an issue I don't necessarily feel disappointed as I don't think I have missed much. Finally, it needs colour. And I heard that the paper will soon be fully colour, so I hope you make best use of the new ink when it comes....



John Heal

The review sexction has always been pretty useless, with most of the content frivolous (and that's being kind). However, its one redeeming feature was a well set out listing of the weeks TV. Now we have one day only and then two pages wasted with someone's idea of what might be of interest - how do you know what I like?

I am currently protected from the price increase as I'm on subscription, but I shall be thinking very hard at renewal time unless there are changes both to the Sunday and weekday editions. Why waste money on pointless glossy inserts like the recent Love & Sex tripe.

Ms. Hislop

I would suggest a poetry section, open to both readers and poets to submit their texts. It has proved quite successful at The Guardian (books blogs).

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