HIGHLIGHTS

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THE DARFUR CRISIS

Rebel groups in Sudan began fighting the government in 2003 over perceptions that the government had been oppressing the Arab populations, and in response the government has been accused of implementing a campaign of ethnic cleansing against non-Arabs, in which estimates of hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed. The effects of mass relocations, forced migrations, starvations and disease have also heavily impacted the population of the country. In 2007 the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants after the UN Security Council had referred the situation to them in 2005, issued for charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Independent ran with coverage investigating the war crimes, often using the phrase in the headlines for the stories. Alongside their coverage of the legal progress, they also ran stories exploring the human side of the atrocities.

 

Howden, Daniel, and Steve Bloomfield. “Historic trial puts warlord in dock over child soldiers.” Independent, 30 Jan. 2007

Smith, Alex Duval. “Minister named as Darfur war crimes suspect.” Independent, 28 Feb. 2007

Grice, Andrew, Political Editor. “Through the eyes of children : new evidence of the horrors of Darfur.” Independent, 2 Aug. 2007

Bloomfield, Steve, Africa Correspondent. “President of Sudan ‘likely to be indicted’ for war crimes in Darfur.” Independent, 12 July 2008

DAVID KELLY

David Kelly (1944-2003) was a weapons inspector for the United Nation’s Special Commission in Iraq, and was named as the source of information used by British broadcasters that claimed the dossier on Iraq’s nuclear capabilities and their ability to launch “weapons of mass destruction” within 45 minutes had been exaggerated by Tony Blair (1953-), who had knowingly embellished the dossier to make these claims. After being called in for questioning by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, David Kelly took his own life in July 2003. A much respected civil servant, there was public outrage at the way Kelly had been used as a scapegoat by the government, and The Independent was more than willing to give a voice to this discontent. Despite widespread acclaim for the Hutton inquiry that followed, which investigated Dr. Kelly’s death, The Independent felt that important questions had not been asked of the government, and continued to report on significant issues, including attempts to keep Kelly quiet. This led to one of the most famous front pages in the history of the British press, the “Whitewash?” front page from 29th January 2004.

 

Vallely, Paul. “The Death Of a Civil Servant, a casualty of war.” Independent, 19 July 2003

Cook, Robin. “How can an inquiry into Dr Kelly’s death fail to examine the reasons for war?” Independent, 21 July 2003

Whitaker, Raymond, et al. “Revealed: how ministers tried to gag David Kelly.” Independent on Sunday, 24 Aug. 2003

“Whitewash?” Independent, 29 Jan. 2004

DESIGN INNOVATIONS

Since its release in 1986, The Independent has experimented with design changes, and has built a reputation as one of the most innovative and experimental newspapers available. It started life as a broadsheet, before the introduction of a “compact” size in 2003, which published alongside the broadsheet (with identical content), until the compact size gradually replaced the broadsheet version entirely in 2004. These changes had an economic impact, seeing circulation increase by 15% from 2003 to 2004. 2003 also saw the introduction of campaigning front pages that drew heavily on graphic design, radically departing from the traditional newspaper front page in favour of powerful imagery and layout choices. From 2008 under a change of editor, these poster-style front pages were scaled back, returning The Independent to a more traditional front page. April 2005 saw a redesign to give it a continental appearance, and became a full colour paper in 2008. It was redesigned again in 2010 which used smaller headlines, but full colour was scaled back, mainly reserved for adverts. 2013 saw anther overhaul, introducing the vertical masthead that ran down the left side of the front page. 

 

“Contents.” Independent, 7 Oct. 1986

“Contents.” Independent, 12 Apr. 2005

McSmith, Andy. “Darling plays to left with attack on bonuses.” Independent, 23 Sept. 2008

“Contents.” Independent, 11 Oct. 2011

“VIEWSPAPER”

In 2007, then British Prime Minister Tony Blair gave a speech in which he labelled The Independent a “viewspaper”, in reference to it being focused on opinion rather than reporting. The Independent did not take the reference lightly, calling out the fact that Tony Blair’s point was a reaction to The Independent’s stance on the war on Iraq, a policy which it had openly questioned and debated. Many journalists and broadcasters came to the defence of The Independent, including editors of some of its biggest competitors.  In response, The Independent – in its spirit of innovation and unconventional approaches - took advantage of the situation launched adverts promoting a “new” Independent that would be “a newspaper and a viewspaper”, turning the criticism into a feature of the newspaper with the introduction of a pull out section entitled “viewspaper”. The “Viewspaper” was ironically positioned as “a shameful slice of style without substance”, and became the home of the opinion and arts columns that would have previously been in the main newspaper.

 

Kelner, Simon, Editor. “Would you be saying this, Mr Blair, if we supported your war in Iraq?” Independent, 13 June 2007

Grice, Andrew, Political Editor. “Blair?s attack provokes anger among newspaper editors and broadcasters.” Independent, 13 June 2007

“The Independent.” Independent, 17 Apr. 2010

“Viewspaper.” Independent, 21 Apr. 2010

WAR ON TERROR

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, the president of the United States at the time, George W. Bush (1946-), used the phrase “war on terror” in a speech to Congress to describe action against the various networks of terrorists and the governments which aided and supported them, though was not used as a formal name for U.S. military operations in various parts of the world in the years following. During this time, the United Kingdom supported the initiatives, joining the invasion of Iraq in 2003 on the justification of Iraq’s possession of nuclear weapons, which was later found to have been exaggerated (see David Kelly above). The Independent took a strong editorial stance against parts of the United Kingdom’s foreign policy related to the War on Terrorism following the 9/11 attacks. It was against the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and published many articles questioning the validity and necessity of the military action. Not only did it publish its own editorials criticising the invasion and the foreign policy, but also covered the public reaction and dissatisfaction with the situation. 

 

Grice, Andrew, Political Editor. “Blair makes case for war as start of long campaign against terror.” Independent, 14 Jan. 2003

McSmith, Andy, Political Editor. “World against the war.” Independent on Sunday, 19 Jan. 2003

“Stop. Think. Listen.” Independent on Sunday, 26 Jan. 2003

Cornwell, Rupert. “Is this war now unstoppable?” Independent, 7 Feb. 2003

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