Final Issue Of Independent On Sunday published on 20 march 2016 and Louise Ridley of the Huffington post wrote,”The Independent’s last ever front page features a picture of the darkened skyline of Shanghai in China with the headline ‘Lights Out’. Closure of the print edition was announced in Feb’16. Independent staff to take huge pay cuts in online-only move.More than 100 journalists out of total of 160 expected to lose jobs as NUJ accuses management of making switch ‘on the cheap’, reports the Guardian.
GJ reads some articles and follows links to the closure and future.
The Independent: a newspaper killed by the internet
In the end it was the internet which killed the Independent newspaper and not Rupert Murdoch. Hit by a price war launched by the News UK owner in the 1990s, the Indy was a casualty of an industrial revolution which has changed the economics of the newspaper business for ever.
After almost 30 years of losing money, it was the cost of publishing a newspaper for so few daily readers – just 40,718 once free or discounted copies are stripped out – that had simply become unsustainable in an age where so much information is free online.
Before the leak of takeover talks for the i, the owners of the Independent had hoped to present any decision to make the title online only as a positive one. Evgeny Lebedev and his team are understood to have wanted to suggest that the death of print was simply “making the step that everyone else was too scared to make”.
In doing so, Lebedev and the management team had looked to the spin put on the BBC’s decision to close its BBC3 television channel and put its content online only. Simply put, this arguments says that as the future is online, we will be too.
The problem for the Independent is that it was relatively late to the internet, only taking it seriously with its website relaunch in 2008, and a succession of owners have never invested enough in web content. With 2.8m daily unique browsers, according to December’s audited circulation figures, its online figures have never really threatened its old rivals, lagging behind rivals ranging from the Daily Mail, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph and the Mirror.
It wasn’t meant to be like this. Back in March 1990, sales of the then four-year old Indy had reached an all-time high of 423,000, eclipsing the Murdoch-owned Times.
Without a proprietor in the early years, the Independent was immediately seen as a fresh voice when it launched in 1986. Recognising the power of a brand and of the ad market before many others its clever ad line, provocatively asked readers, “The Independent: It is, are you?”.
Once the paper took off, Murdoch’s reaction was to cut the cover price of his then broadsheet title and start a price war which hit profits for decades to come. Ultimately, the Murdoch manoeuvre of the 1990s proved the financial benefits of a rich owner with seemingly endless pockets in the increasingly cut-throat newspaper market of the period.
Having become smaller than its rivals, the Independent was forced to innovate. It was the first to switch from broadsheet to a tabloid format in 2003, prompting the Times (again) to follow suit, it later became a “viewspaper” with opinion on the front page.
In 2010, its owners launched the i, a cheaper spin off for a younger audience, priced initially at 20p and which quickly found an audience. The i now has a circulation of 268,431, although 67,752 of those are bulk copies. Cheaper than the paper it depends on for much of its content, it soon outstripped its older sister with strong demand in universities and other cost-conscious parts of the country.
Yet the success of the i sustained the Indy. Charlie Burgess, sports editor at launch who became managing editor in the 1990s, said: “If it wasn’t for the i, the Independent would not have lasted this long.”
The launch of the i came after the 12 years of full ownership by Ireland’s Tony O’Reilly, who spent tens of millions of pounds on the paper.
Launched in the wake of the Wapping print strike, the Independent newspaper got rid of its “We’re independent, are you?” tag in 2011, a year after its purchase for just £1 by Alexander Lebedev. The billionaire former KGB boss and his son Evgeny have proved ready to try new things at the title although during their tenure the paper also dropped the taglines “free from party political bias” and “free from proprietorial influence”.
Although it will continue as a digital only brand, the loss of the Independent as a visible presence on the newsstand raises all sorts of questions about media plurality in a market in which rightwing titles dominate. While a cacophony of voices exists online, the loss of a groundbreaking newspaper which was once considered radical and anti-establishment is likely to be keenly felt at a time of political upheaval and discontent.
- The Sindy’s demise – the shattering of a journalistic ornament by Roy Greenslade
- History : 1986 to 1990 and 1990 to present
- Independent staff to take huge pay cuts in online-only move
- What the industry is saying on the Independent print closure