It’s the end of an era for a British print newspaper powerhouse.
The paper editions of the Independent and the Independent on Sunday newspapers will close, after nearly 30 years in print. The Russian billionaire owner Evegeny Lebedev confirmed the news in an email to staff.
“(W)e will cease to print The Independent and Independent on Sunday. The Independent’s last edition is expected to be on Saturday 26th March and the last Independent on Sunday is expected be on Sunday 20th March, enabling us to focus our collective energy on the digital Independent,” Lebvedev said.
“We will be the first of many leading newspapers to embrace a wholly digital future. All of us are immensely proud of the Independent titles, which are better newspapers now than they have been for many years, thanks to your remarkable creativity, work ethic and passion.”
The closely associated tabloid paper the i — which remains profitable — will be sold for £24 million ($34.9 million) to Johnston Press, which owns the Scotsman. Proceeds from the sale are expected to be poured into growing the independent.co.uk website. Lebvedev announced that the sale will enable the Independent.co.uk to create “25 new content roles, launch a new subscription mobile App, enhance the redesigned, thriving http://independent.co.uk, open new editorial bureaux in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and invest further in our New York based US operation.”
The i100 site will be renamed as http://indy100.com.
The 25 i staff, working mostly in editorial, will keep their jobs under the new ownership, according to a press release. Editor Oliver Duff, will also remain with the Title.
A journalist at the Independent told Business Insider the expected closure of the print edition was not unexpected, after several rounds of redundancies over the past few years.
Among the paper’s former editors is Andrew Marr, the BBC presenter, who shared his condolences over Twitter:
Sorry for grammar clunk. But one Indy thought: those who celebrate death of a paper like folk wanting fewer parks – more is always better.
— Andrew Marr (@AndrewMarr9) February 11, 2016
Profitable London-only sister paper The Evening Standard, also owned by Lebvedev, is expected to remain running as normal.
It’s been a bad start to 2016 for British newspapers
This is another signal of a troubling time for the British newspaper industry in general.
On Thursday, staff at the Guardian received a letter confirming their fears of job cuts, according to The Telegraph. It said: “As our staff costs are by far our biggest overhead, one outcome of the budgeting process may be that redundancies are proposed.”
Last month the Guardian announced that it will be forced to cut costs by 20%, after announcing rising losses of £50 million ($71 million.) Editor Kath Viner announced a three year plan for the paper to break even by 2018/19.
There are also rumours that the Telegraph is gearing up for a sale. On Tuesday an internal memo about a “strategic review” prompted rumours that the Barclay brothers are planning to sell off the newspaper.
A spokesperson for The Telegraph told Business Insider that the strategic review will be led by consultancy firm Deloitte, will take three months. Pay increases are being delayed until the review is complete and there is also hiring freeze in this time. However, the spokesperson said layoffs and a sale are not being discussed.