Independent newspapers are to cease publication

The first edition of the Independent from 1986. The newspaper is to cease publication and the title will become digital only, owners ESI Media have announced. The last paper edition is expected to be on Saturday March 26. Photo: Peter J Jordan/PA Wire
The first edition of the Independent from 1986. The newspaper is to cease publication and the title will become digital only, owners ESI Media have announced. The last paper edition is expected to be on Saturday March 26. Photo: Peter J Jordan/PA Wire

About 75 jobs are thought at risk in the wake of the decision to close the newspaper editions of the Independent and the Independent on Sunday, a source close to the business has said.

The owners of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday newspapers have confirmed the print version of the titles will close, leaving an online-only edition.

The Independent newspaper is read in London, as the owners of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday newspapers confirmed the print version of the titles will close, leaving an online-only edition. Photo: John Stillwell/PA Wire

The Independent newspaper is read in London, as the owners of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday newspapers confirmed the print version of the titles will close, leaving an online-only edition. Photo: John Stillwell/PA Wire

ESI Media said The Independent, launched in 1986, will become “the first national newspaper title to move to a digital-only future”.

The Independent on Sunday will go online only on March 20, with The Independent following on March 26.

The move comes after the paper’s owners, Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev, agreed a deal to sell its cut-price sister paper i to regional publisher Johnston Press, which owns the News Letter, for around £24 million. The Independent newspapers are part of the group owned by the Lebedev family, who have other media assets including the Evening Standard and local TV station London Live.

The Independent was launched by a group of journalists led by Andreas Whittam Smith. It enjoyed initial success rising to a circulation passing 400,000 by 1988, and claimed it was free from proprietorial influence.

Early advertising featured the famous strapline “It is, are you?”, and later editors included Andrew Marr and Rosie Boycott.

The Independent on Sunday launched in 1990, with Stephen Glover as editor.

However, over the years and under different owners the circulation and ad revenues of the titles began to shrink as the newspaper industry lost readers.

In March 2010 ESI Media bought the titles from Irish mogul Sir Anthony O’Reilly for £1.

The Independent’s current paid circulation is just over 40,000 while its Sunday sister title sells just under 43,000 copies.

By contrast the i, bought by Johnston Press, has a circulation of 275,000 and reported profits of £5.2 million last year.