Sindy given £2m boost in bid to win London readers

Davis has been working on IoS supplement dummies for six weeks

The Independent on Sunday is having a revival in more ways than one.

Over the past four to five weeks its anti-war stance has brought it between 14,000 and 15,000 extra sales each week and on 2 March editor Tristan Davies unveils a much-expanded newspaper boosted by around £2m of investment from Independent News & Media.

At least £1m has gone on the contents and the rest on a promotional campaign targeting upmarket readers.

The revamped IoS will have two new magazines with the main paper: Time Off, a 12-page, newsprint broadsheet devoted to leisure and pleasure, and Talk of the Town, a 48-page glossy aimed at cultured, metropolitan readers. Time Off is edited by features editor Nick Coleman and Talk of the Town by Ian Irvine, former arts editor of The Independent.

Taking travel and its accompanying “downtime” features out of LifeEtc and into Time Off has also allowed Davies to expand the arts and books section.

Research has shown that IoS readers are “younger, more affluent, have more varied lives and interests and are more culturally aware than any of our rivals’ readers”, said Davies.

Talk of the Town sets out to capture new readers within the Carlton TV region. Ninety thousand copies will go out with the newspaper and they may be rolled out across the UK later. “It is going to put the big read back into Sunday papers,” promised Davies. In the dummy there are 4,000- to 5,000-word essays and no photographs until page 20. It will showcase illustrators and cartoonists rather than photographers, giving them a centrespread to comment on aspects of London life.

“The last thing I wanted was to produce just another Sunday supplement,” said Davies. “If you look at them, they are all derivatives of themselves. This is an unashamedly upmarket magazine, a celebration of writing and fine writers – words-heavy. It is a mixture of columns and features, interviews and polemics which celebrate everything that is good and bad and exciting about life in a big city.”

Talk of the Town will also contain a piece of fiction, a look at London’s past and up to 10 columns under the umbrella title “London Lives”. Listings will be written by IoS critics.

Davies and designer Carolyn Roberts have been working on the dummies since the expansion was given the green light six weeks ago. It can’t be a coincidence the IoS has a new chief executive, Ivan Fallon, who has realised that the Sunday paper needs the same kind of attention the daily has been getting.

Davies believes the IoS is in a better state than it has been for a long time. “There is a lot of confidence about it. We have recaptured the campaigning edge of the paper, a traditional strength, and we alone of the Sundays have been opposed to the war. Editors and writers on this paper were very sure of our ground on where we stood on the war and we were lucky because it absolutely chimes in with what our readers think.”

By Jean Morgan

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