In a significant development that could potentially transform the newspaper industry in the UK, the popular British newspaper, The Independent, printed its final edition on Saturday before going digital only.
The paper published its final print edition with a bang as it carried an exclusive story about a British connection in a plot to kill a Saudi king, and a striking image of train passengers being evacuated during an anti-terrorism operation in Brussels, on its final front page.
A special wraparound, as The Guardian reported, simply said, “STOP PRESS.”
Nearly 100 editorial staff of the newspaper and its other brand “i” are facing redundancy following this decision but the management said that there will be new job opportunities in digital journalism.
In a letter published in the final edition, publisher Evgeny Lebedev defended the Independent’s move online, saying journalism had “changed beyond recognition” and the newspaper “must change too”. He also extended his thanks to the paper’s “most important allies” – its readers.
“I know that today will be the last time you hear this newspaper crash through your letterbox; the last time you swap a smile and a few coins with the man in the corner shop and walk out with your daily bread under your arm.
“Some of you might have done that nearly 10,000 times since 1986. The depth of our gratitude is impossible to express.”
Emotional messages from journalists from around the world have been pouring in on the news that The Independent will no longer be available in print edition.
Declan Walsh, The New York Times’ Cairo bureau chief, who had got his first break as foreign correspondent with the paper tweeted;
— Declan Walsh (@declanwalsh) March 26, 2016
Former BBC Political Editor, Andrew Marr, who started his career with the paper before becoming it’s editor, fondly remembered “breaking every rule of Westminster life” adding that the paper had seen “some of the best journalistic writing in Britain in the 20th century.”
Independent staff, banging ourselves out pic.twitter.com/gcn7HQNAQv
— Matthew Moore (@mattkmoore) March 25, 2016
Earlier, a colleague tweeted the photo of the editor, Amol Rajan, sitting alone casting a last look at the final edition in his office.
The final editorial read, “Today the presses have stopped, the ink is dry and the paper will soon crinkle no more. But as one chapter closes, another opens, and the spirit of the Independent will flourish still.
“Our work goes on, our mission endures, the war still rages, and the dream of our founders shall never die.”
Rajan in his final editor’s letter said that the move to digital-only “will be vindicated by history”. The final line read, “The bird next to the masthead is taking flight again, and countless others will follow where this eagle dared.”
The Independent was launched by a group of journalists led by Andreas Whittam Smith in 1986. It enjoyed initial success rising to a circulation passing 400,000 by 1988, and a Sunday title was launched in 1990 with Stephen Glover as editor.