The UK’s The Independent To Go Online-only As Aussie Publishers Weigh Options

The UK’s The Independent To Go Online-only As Aussie Publishers Weigh Options

Britain’s Independent newspaper will cease its print publication by the end of March following a sharp fall in advertising.

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It is the first of the main British mastheads to go online-only. At its peak in the mid-90s the daily edition was selling in excess of 400,000 copies; however, that has dwindled to less than a tenth of that in the past two decades.

The newspaper was launched in 1986 by a group of journalists tired of celebrity and royals parading as legitimate news in the UK. Instead, it decided to focus on hard world news and more difficult topics such as science. It also eschewed the antics of EPL football players

The publisher has been in trouble for some time and despite a recent focus on its digital output has not managed to monetise the print edition. Readers have migrated online but the digital ad dollars were worth a lot less than the print ones.

However, it’s certain Australian publishers will be keeping a keen eye on the Independent’s model. Last Friday’s ABC figures didn’t make for particularly happy reading with all but one of the 42 audited titles in Australia taking a circulation hit.

Although the falls were to be expected in tough trading times, the news was particularly grim for some major mastheads. The Sydney Morning Herald weekday edition had fallen 9.1 per cent year on year. The Australian Financial Review was down 10.5 per cent and The Canberra Times took an alarming hit of 18.7 per cent over the previous 12 months.

The Australian is this morning quoting documents it obtained from rival Fairfax that has shown the publisher had secretly crunched the numbers if its two flagship titles – The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald – were to go online only

The documents, admittedly dated from three years ago, revealed Fairfax could get rid of as many as 700 staff if it adopted a digital-only approach.