The deadest of the dead tree press…
The Times, Telegraph and Independent all went for the same cliché headline, used to cover countless budgets and spending reviews before. The rest of the unpopular press following in the Indy’s footsteps is not a good omen for the Times and Telegraph…
“Exposed”, screamed the Indy’s front page last Thursday, dramatically claiming the Institute for Economic Affairs is part of a sinister axis of think tanks conspiring to help the Vote Leave campaign. The spirited piece told of a revolving door culture and an ominous-sounding “nexus of right-of-centre organisations whose staff, board members and even offices are linked”, with the IEA at the centre. All good fun, but does it ring true?
In response, the IEA polled their staff to find out if they are indeed a conspiratorial bunch of secret Eurosceptics. It transpires that 37.5% of IEA employees actually support Remain, and another 12.5% are undecided. The IEA confirm they have
“no corporate position on whether Britain should stay in the European Union and a wide range of views are held by the Institute’s staff, trustees and wider supporters”
Hope the Indy’s track-record of rigorous investigative journalism continues in its online offering…
Now the hypocritical condolences from rival journalists are out of the way the bickering begins at the Indy. Guido hears some staff have already confronted the Indy’s management over bullying allegations against the new digital overlord Christian Broughton. Several staff say they would rather take redundancy than work for him.
The above Indy restroom artwork seems to suggest people have strong feelings about Broughton. That they want to share…
Amol Rajan, the outgoing Indy editor, will apparently have no direct role driving the digital-only Indy. Many suspect he is waiting for the editorship of the Evening Standard to become available…
Was he wrong?
Confirmed: the Indy and the Sindy are closing. Last edition of the Indy will be on 26th March and the last Independent on Sunday on 20 March. Online only after that…
UPDATE: The i’s editor tweets:
Evgeny Lebedev is expected to close the Indy and Sindy print editions as soon as tonight. Of the 150 full-time staff, just 20 or so look like they’ll moving over to the i paper. It will not be difficult for the owners to find voluntary redundancies. Many journalists at the Indy will be loathe to work for the much-derided, clickbait-obsessed online offering.
Meanwhile the Guardian is imposing 20% cuts, with staff warned in an email this morning that “As our staff costs are by far our biggest overhead, one outcome of the budgeting process may be that redundancies are proposed”. They are looking at 100 redundancies, and according to Beth Rigby they want to start with their “on leave” columnist Seumas Milne. He is in line for a £90,000 payout.
Media sources tell Guido that the Telegraph is set to announce a jobs cull next week. Print journalists there are furious at the dumbing down of content for their own ‘digital first’, Indy-style clickbait-based website. You will often find the exact same traffic-farming stories on the Telegraph site as you will on the Indy online. See the Telegraph’s “Man with two penises writes tell-all memoir” and the i100’s “The man with two penises has now written a tell-all memoir”.
The FT have some killer numbers:
“Fleet Street’s large newsroom may be unsustainable. The Times had 454 editorial staff at last count, The Sun 525, the Daily Telegraph 662 and The Guardian, following expansion overseas, 925.”
Online-only is the only option. The question now is how proprietors and executives will reconcile the trend for traffic-driving churnalism to the pay the bills with actual, old-fashioned journalism in the digital age. The future of journalism is specialism, the most profitable online media operations have focus, that generates specific audience demographics that can be packaged for advertisers at premium prices.
This week’s Estates Gazette makes interesting reading in light of today’s news about the Indy. A report in the property trade journal claims the Lebedevs are planning to move the Evening Standard from their current offices sharing with the Indy and the Mail in Kensington. Apparently they are looking for a new 40,000 square foot space in Zone 1. Will there be room for a new online-only Indy there too?
Indy editor Amol Rajan just sent staff this curt email to worried staff:
Further to Steve’s email just now, I am very conscious that this morning’s news about Johnston Press will prompt a lot of questions and uncertainty.
I am very sorry to say, however, that for the time being we really are bound by strict rules on what we can and can’t say about this potential deal.
The Lebedevs look set to sell the i paper to regional publisher Johnston Press for around £24 million, escalating rumours that the Independent and the Independent on Sunday could be set to close. ESI Media, Lebedev’s company which owns the i, Indy, Sindy and Standard, admits this morning: “At this stage no decision has been made and we realise the uncertainty that this news will cause our employees and customers”.[…]
Farewell SunNation, the Sun’s outside-the-paywall experiment with a blog format has now gone with the raison d’être of the paywall. This again brings into focus the future of tabloids now it has been established that in the age of social media paywalls for popular papers are counter-productive.[…]
“Gotcha!” exclaimed Tuesday’s Indy splash, exclusively revealing that the Sun had been “told” to put an “apology” for a story about Jeremy Corbyn on its front page. The top scoop revealed how “The Sun was ordered to publish a front page correction“.[…]
The Stop the War disease is spreading. This article published on the Independent’s online opinion section today says the international community should “grant ISIS diplomatic recognition”:
The writer claims:
“Only by recognising and treating Isis as a bona fide state can we hope to understand its workings and motivations”
Going on to argue that recognising ISIS’ legitimacy will “moderate their behaviour”:
“History shows that diplomatic recognition of extremist governments can make them more likely to moderate their behaviour.
The Britain Stronger in Europe campaign is getting very upset with people who call them the “BSE” campaign. Their comms chief Lucy Thomas tells Sky News it is “childish” to abbreviate their name. So they will have been delighted to read the write up of a briefing they handed to their friends at the Sindy yesterday:
The piece used the acronym BSE no fewer than four times, suggesting it has stuck even among Europhile allies. […]
The increasingly doddery Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has been wheeled out by the Indy again today and her column is a corker. In it, the ever perspicacious Alibhai-Brown defends Jeremy Corbyn against accusations that he is anti-Semitic, declaring that some of his closest friends are “conscientious and ethical British Jews“.[…]