The British morning newspaper The Independent, launched in 1986, will print its final edition on March 26. It’s a victim of owner Evgeny Lebedev’s decision to sell the i, a downscale tabloid-style companion product launched in 2010 that has kept The Independent and The Sunday Independent financially solvent. That deal will bring in £25 million (roughly $36 million), and The Guardian reports that only the digital arm of The Independent will keep going. “The Independent’s journalism has never been more loved or respected, but the costs cannot be sustained,” said editor Amol Rajan, announcing the closure of both print editions at a staff meeting.
According to Lebedev, the move will ensure that the digital Independent can remain competitive. “The newspaper industry is changing,” he told The Guardian. “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.” He did not say how many members of the 150-person print staff will lose their jobs — The Guardian estimates that it may be half.
Heavy cost-cutting under Lebedev’s ownership meant the three print papers, collectively, were breaking even, as the i subsidized the other two. The Independent’s website is also profitable, and revenues in 2016 are expected to double. (According to the publisher, the site sees about 58 million readers a month; the paper had slipped to fewer than 58,000 readers a day, about 15 percent of its 1990s readership.) Lebedev also owns the extremely successful Evening Standard, which he reportedly has no intention of selling.