“The Independent,” the Russian-owned British newspaper, is closing its print edition to become digital only.
The paper’s owners said Friday the move away from print will ensure a sustainable and profitable future.
“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,” said Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of “The Independent.”
Lebedev’s father, Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev, bought the paper in 2010. He was once among the richest Russians, but his wealth has declined in recent years.
The paper’s print edition was already struggling at that time, reflecting the price of the deal. Lebedev, who also owns “The Evening Standard,” and the Russian newspaper “Novaya Gazeta,” paid £1 for the publication.
“The Independent” said the paper’s digital version, independent.co.uk, is the “fastest-growing quality newspaper site in the U.K.”
Its monthly audience has grown 33.3 percent in the last 12 months to nearly 70 million global unique users, the paper’s owners said.
The print version was declining for some time. Circulation data show “The Independent” sold just 56,074 copies on average in December, compared with 166,039 for “The Guardian;” 209,264 sold by the “Financial Times;” and 1.8 million sold by “The Sun. “The paper said it will create 25 new “digital content roles,” and open new offices in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and expand its U.S. operation. But it also said there “will be some redundancies” among its editorial employees.
Lebedev also announced he would sell The Independent’s sister publication the “i” to Johnston Press. The paper was founded in 1986, at a time when thousands of newspaper workers went on strike over changes imposed on the industry by Rupert Murdoch. Its last edition is expected on Saturday, March 26.