Nearly 30 years after it was first printed, The Independent plunged deep into the realm of online publishing.
Editor Christian Broughton stands firmly by the motto for online publishing that says:
“I’ve seen a news brand that I love dearly find a great future”
This great future is in digital. When The Independent made the decision to stop print and move online there was a massive shift in employment. Roughly 100 journalists were made redundant, and 45 moved across to the website.
This also made print and distribution costs fall. The newly digital Independent was turning over profit in a matter of months. In addition, the global audience was taking huge stride in numbers.
Online publishing introduces structural changes
New section chiefs have been hired. David Marley is head of news, Dave MacLean is lifestyle editor, and Ed Malyon is sports editor. The lifestyle section is revamped and includes a fact-checking service.
There is also the potential introduction of a paywall in the future. It operates off premium content and metered paywalls for major titles. This all depends on the evolution of advertising’s value as it is “too interesting at the moment to leave completely”.
Press Gazette comments on the economic model;
“The current economic model for free-to-access general news websites, such as The Independent, relies on digital display advertising and sponsored content for its income.”
Whilst audience data is crucial to the generation of content, The Independent is still adopting an approach that emphasises the need to create content, because of journalistic reasons. Analytics need to be treated responsibly, so it can it provide the balance between creating content that is wanted, but also that is true.
Since moving across to digital, the Independent claims to have doubled the number of subscribers as they previously had in print alone. The publisher is also on track to exceed revenue and profit targets this year, despite the advertising struggle that has gripped the industry.
The team dynamics have changed. There is one team focused on one medium – and it has made a positive influence on unity and productivity.
Broughton mentions; “It’s such a profound change that you see everyone has to be massively brought into the project because we are all here and doing one thing now. I think it sharpens the focus; it sharpens the time it takes to get things done.”
The Independent is choosing the approach that fights against the negativity surrounding journalism today. Their secret? Keep looking forward by having passion, energy and enthusiasm.