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The Independent newspaper confirms an end to print production


The Independent has called an end to its print newspaper operation after three decades, and gone online-only, making around 75 journalists redundant.

The newspaper publishing group claimed the move would ensure a “sustainable and profitable future” for the company which has been struggling with heavy losses for years.

The newspaper, which was launched in 1986, will print its last daily title on 26 March. The last Independent on Sunday will be on 20 March.

The decision to close its national print titles follows an agreed £24m sale of its tabloid i newspaper to Johnston Press, the owner of regional titles including The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post.

“The newspaper industry is changing, and that change is being driven by readers,” said owner Evgeny Lebedev.

He bought The Independent for £1 in 2010 but has since pumped around £60m of investment into the publishing group, including funding the launch of the i in a bid to attract a younger and wider audience.

They’re showing us that the future is digital," he added. "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."

Amol Rajan, editor of the Independent, and Lisa Markwell, editor of the Independent on Sunday, tweeted their reactions to the announcement. Mr Rajan is staying at The Independent to "assist with the transition".

The i, which has doubled its cover price to 40p since its launch, will continue to be based in the Kensington, west London, building which belongs to The Daily Mail and where The Independent currently has its offices.

The Lebedevs have, meanwhile, instructed property agents at Lambert Smith Hampton to find a new central London office space for just the Evening Standard and an Independent online team.

The Independent currently employs around 140 full-time editorial staff. It will subsequently function solely as a website and an app with 25 new digital roles created.

Just 17 journalists staff will be transferred across to the i, with another 33 jobs created by Johnston Press to run the tabloid’s website, which will be called theinews.co.uk. However, it is thought as many as 75 current Independent staff will lose their jobs.

“If we save even half of the staff we can call that a great achievement”, said Steve Auckland, chief executive of ESI Media, which owns The Independent, the Evening Standard and TV station London Live.

“A number of employees at Independent Print Limited will be made redundant”, Mr Lebedev told staff in a letter. “I regret this, but can confirm that all those on employment contracts and long-term casuals who are being made redundant will receive two weeks’ pay, subject to conditions, for every year worked, plus your notice period.”

The Independent, which had a circulation of around 400,00 at its peak, has since languished to have a print readership of 56,000.

Ashley Highfield, chief executive of Johnston Press, said that the takeover of the tabloid would give the publishing group a national platform with more than 600,000 paid copies a day.

Mr Highfield, who has been grappling with cutting costs and debt at Johnston Press, said that he had “no plans to sell or close the Scotsman or Yorkshire Post”, despite repeated rumours.
The Independent newspaper confirms an end to print production The Independent newspaper confirms an end to print production Reviewed by Emeka Oparah on Saturday, February 20, 2016 Rating: 5

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