Saying goodbye to The Independent
So vellum, used to record our Acts of Parliament for a millennium, lives to record another day, while the paper Independent, an infant of a mere 30 years, has reached the end of its print run.
As a regular, if not daily reader, I shall miss it. The leisurely page turning, the spread of stories as the pages open, the flow of the written word, uninterrupted by intrusive pop-ups, dodgy wireless connections and slow rendering is not so easily replaced. I’m not a complete Luddite, I browse the BBC News website more than I care to admit, but I’m definitely paper rather than Kindle. I like to know how long the story is; I like it that the odd drop of wine spilt on the words doesn’t blow a fuse, I like, if I’m honest, the ‘badge’ of being the reader of a quality newspaper.
Its demise is unsurprising. A circulation that once exceeded 400,000 has dwindled to 55,000 and ad revenues have plummeted as a result. All this while the online version is being viewed by 3 million. The cause is straightforward – “not enough people are prepared to pay for printed news” says the Indy’s editor Amol Rajan. This, to my mind, presents another problem, because not many people are prepared to pay for online news either, so revenue must come largely from advertising. In contrast, the BBC news website, well written and staffed by some heavyweight journalists, is free from the clutter and necessity of advertising and must surely be hard to compete with and beat in this medium.
The Independent’s owner, ESI, has said that it would be making “some editorial redundancies”, presumably to make way for the new “digital-content roles” it plans to create. Rajan has promised “the same amount of journalism”, but quantity is not the same as quality. Such changes make one fear for the standard of online journalism.
The Independent has one of the youngest average readerships amongst its national competitors and this is likely to make it more opportune to them moving wholly online than say, The Daily Telegraph, but my guess is that within the next decade the last newspaper will have gone out of print and joined the blur of the internet. The arrival of New Day may simply be the birth of the last Neanderthal. That said, some of us grumpy old dinosaurs, who still like vinyl records and vellum-written Acts of Parliament, will miss the inkstained fingers and strong opinions of the quality press.
(The views expressed above are personal and do not represent those of TCS Media, which is a forward looking company, with a strong belief in the effectiveness of digital and social media. They would like to add that the author has now been put back in his cupboard in the accounts department).