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Saturday, February 13, 2016

'The Independent' will cease existence in print; to continue only in digital form !

To most South Indians, day starts early with a steaming hot filter coffee and newspaper – Indian Express has been there; The Hindu ruled for decades, now slowly losing out to Times of India … ! ~ for varied reasons.  Many of us become restless when there is no paper for a day due to holiday like Deepavali ! Recall that there was an eveninger too – ‘the Mail’ having its Office adjacent to the Hindu, one of the oldest, sadly closed down by end 1981.  At the time of its fading away, the paper's circulation was an anaemic 10,000, of which 3,000 copies were reportedly returned unsold.  The Mail was part of Madras culture, and had a lot of firsts to its credit, including the initiative in giving importance to local news and in publishing picture pages.

In 2013 came the news that the owners of renowned Readers Digest filed for bankruptcy for the second time in less than four years, citing a greater-than-expected decline of the media industry. RDA Holding Co and more than two dozen affiliates filed for a pre-negotiated Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan which according to the Company would  allow it to reduce its $534 million debt load by 80 percent.

This time, it is in UK and it is ‘The Independent’ which is in similar league.  The Independent is a British national morning newspaper published in London by Independent Print Limited, owned by Alexander Lebedev since 2010.  It will cease to be produced in a print edition from late March 2016, but will continue in an online form. The Independent was launched in 1986 and 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.  Nicknamed the Indy, it was originally a broadsheet newspaper, the newspaper has been published in a tabloid or "compact" format since 2003.  

Now in February 2016 comes the announcement  that The Independent and its sister Sunday title will stop printing in March; thus would become the first national newspaper title to move to a digital-only future, owners ESI Media have announced.  It was claimed that the move will capitalise on The Independent’s position as the fastest growing UK quality newspaper website, and will ensure a sustainable and profitable future.  Evgeny Lebedev, owner of The Independent, is quoted as saying : “The newspaper industry is changing, and that change is being driven by readers. They’re showing us that the future is digital. This decision preserves the Independent brand and allows us to continue to invest in the high-quality editorial content that is attracting more and more readers to our online platforms.

Steve Auckland, Group CEO, ESI Media, said: “The unique editorial proposition of The Independent is perfectly suited to the global digital landscape. Following this decisive move to digital, we will be as focused and uncompromised as any start-up, but with all the authority and trust of an established newsbrand – a truly unique proposition. We now have a clear and secure future path for our businesses. It’s also a further opportunity for our advertisers to capitalise on our growing, smart, affluent and digitally savvy audience.” The site, the hugely successful quality news source for millennials, will become as part of ESI Media’s drive to champion truly independent and innovative journalism worldwide.

Its Russian owners will also sell off its profitable cheaper stablemate 'i' to regional publisher Johnston Press for £24million. More than 50 'i' staff will move with the paper with the Indy's re-branded website taking on around 25 newspaper staff but 70 journalists now face redundancy. The daily newspaper's final print edition will be on Saturday, March 26, with the final Sunday version on March 20.

According to its owner - 'We faced a choice: manage the continued decline of print, or convert the digital foundation we've built into a sustainable, profitable future. 'In choosing the latter, we will create 25 new content roles, launch a new subscription mobile app, enhance the redesigned, thriving website, open new editorial bureaux in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and invest further in our New York US operation.'  He added, 'We now have a clear and secure future path for our businesses. It's also a further opportunity for our advertisers to capitalise on our growing, smart, affluent and digitally savvy audience.'

Reaction so far has seen many lament the loss of the paper to the news industry. Television presenter Susanna Reid said on Twitter: 'Whether you bought it or read it, the closure of The Independent/IoS & move to online-only feels like a big moment for all journalism.' 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

13th Feb 2016.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I've never read/seen this paper, residing in India. Saw a recent piece of news in TOI that said 'I' will revert to Bombay as Mumbai was the product of Hindu Loyalists!!

    Wha crap! So as far as I'm concerned, good riddance. The sun will never set on the wiles and guiles of the Brits.