The Independent and Independent on Sunday newspapers in the UK are to cease publication and go online only, in the starkest sign yet of the pressure on the print industry.
In a statement, owners ESI Media said The Independent, launched in 1986, would become “the first national newspaper title to move to a digital-only future”.
The change is one of the strongest signs yet of the shift in reading habits brought about by the internet, as people flock to the likes of Buzzfeed, mobile apps, social media recommendations and news aggregators to keep informed on current events.
The firm added that there would be “some redundancies among editorial employees”, but it would also hire for 25 new “digital-content roles”.
It added that due to the expansion of independent.co.uk, new editorial bureau would open in Europe, the Middle East and Asia and its US operation expanded.
Over the years and under different owners, readership and advertising revenues have tumbled.
From a peak of around 400,000 copies a day, circulation has plunged to just over 40,000. The Sunday paper sells just under 43,000 copies.
ESI has also confirmed it will sell the i newspaper to Johnston Press, subject to approval from Johnston’s shareholders.
Evgeny Lebedev, ESI’s owner, said: “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.”
The Independent’s editor Amol Rajan tweeted: “Impossible to over-state how proud I am of the most dedicated, clever, industrious and brave staff in the history of Fleet St.”
Impossible to over-state how proud I am of the most dedicated, clever, industrious and brave staff in the history of Fleet St #Independent
— amol rajan (@amolrajan) February 12, 2016
The Independent was set up three decades ago by a group of journalists led by Andreas Whittam Smith with the slogan “it is – are you?” – emphasising its freedom from the influence of proprietors.
The last print edition of the Independent will be published on Saturday 26 March, while the last Independent on Sunday will be on 20 March.