London, UK (BBN)– Journalists at the Independent have put together the paper’s last ever print edition for publication on Saturday.
A bumper 16-page souvenir pullout will mark the end of its 30 years in print before it becomes the first national newspaper in the UK to go online only, reports the Guardian.
Launched in 1986, it has fallen victim to a digital revolution that has upended the economics of the print newspaper market.
Other contributors who have became famous through their association with the title include Helen Fielding, who wrote Bridget Jones’s Diary, author Sebastian Faulks and its first female editor, Rosie Boycott.
Rajan, who is to become editor-at-large of the online-only Independent, and owner Evgeny Lebedev, described it as the latest move in the Independent’s role as an industry pioneer. A brave new entrant in the 1980s, it was the first to switch from broadsheet to tabloid format in 2003, and later became a “viewspaper” with opinion on the front page.
In a statement, Rajan said: “The Independent has always been known for its pioneering work and world-class journalism and this special edition reflects that. The edition pays tribute to the enormous contribution of the team, both current and past, to this legacy, as we look ahead to the evolution of the Independent newsbrand, growing our digital, global presence.”
Staff – in the office for the last editorial conference – are being encouraged to think of the demise of the print edition and shift towards digital as an evolution, rather than an extinction, according to a source.
And Steve Auckland, the chief executive of the Indy’s parent company ESI Media, said: “We have plans in place to mark this significant occasion privately in our office today followed by an event tonight to thank our employees for the enormous contribution they have made.”
When he announced the decision to close the Independent and its Sunday print sister in February, Lebedev said: “The newspaper industry is changing, and that change is being driven by readers. They’re showing us that the future is digital.”
In a nod to the title’s most famous advertisement – “It is – are you?” – the paper was wrapped in an ad in the last week that asked: “It’s changing – are you?”
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The publisher launched an app last month ago to help boost readers of the website, which lags behind several national rivals with 58 million monthly readers.
More than 100 journalists are expected to lose their jobs after just 30 move to the online-only Independent, including long-standing writers such as Robert Fisk and Patrick Cockburn. Lebedev has promised to open new editorial bureaux in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and expand the US operation.
At the same time as announcing the closure of the print title, Lebedev announced the sale of the i, the Independent offshoot, to regional newspaper group Johnston Press for £24m.
Up to 40 people are to transfer to the new owners of a cheaper offshoot that had an existing staff of 17, including editor Oliver Duff.
By the time of its sale, the i (newspaper) was selling 275,000 copies, far more than its expensive parent title.
Although the final edition is to be published after Good Friday, a national holiday, many of the estimated 170 staff were expected to come in, either to vie for a slot in the final edition or to mark the moment when the presses roll for the last time.
In the US, so many newspapers have been hit by the increasing dominance of social media groups such as Facebook and the loss of advertising revenue that several major regional titles have closed. So many indeed, that a website chronicling the demise of the industry since 2007 was set up called Newspaper Death Watch.
The State of the News Media report estimated that one in five journalists lost their jobs in the US in the first decade of the millennium.
On the other hand, the Independent in its Saturday editorial says: “It’s been a remarkable journey, and such an honour to have had your companionship along the way. Today the presses have stopped, the ink is dry and the paper will soon crinkle no more. But as one chapter closes, another opens, and the spirit of The Independent will flourish still. Our work goes on, our mission endures, the war still rages, and the dream of our founders shall never die.”