Monday, 15 February 2016
Indy print closes. Rome burns. Newspapermen idle.
The UK Independent (Indy) which started in 1986 as a broadsheet, is to close its printed version and move exclusively online which may be, the start of the big digital switch for Newspapers. After all, all the costs for a publisher are in printing the physical edition whereas all the revenue growth is in online advertising.
The Guardian for example, is losing £52 million a year which is not sustainable.
The Independent was of course bought by Irish tycoon (and generally nice man), Tony O'Reilly in 1998. Anybody who watches Andrew Marr on a Sunday, might be interested to note that he was an Editor too.
So by saving the printed edition substantial costs, the Indy will still be able to generate good revenues in a profitable way online. It also gives them a real competitive model for Buzzfeed and Huff Post. A lesson here?
Indy printed will cease in March (20th probably) and then start to expand its digital version in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Already with a staff of 17, they expect to be joined by another 40, leaving sadly, some redundancies.
There's a simple fact.
Newspapers as they stand, will continue to lose cover price (as news is 'free' online) and lose print advertising (down another -10% in 2015). Unless they re-invent themselves (and we can suggest a few ideas here!), the print newspaper will fall.
However, the print newspaper can be used to switch readers to online which none of them do. It seems an obvious strategy to get their readers to move online and to keep those readers. Once online, they can sell those readers other stuff with "news" as the free "hook" to keep them there. You cannot charge for news anymore so let's forget paywalls.
Like selling readers 'click through' story shopping; recruitment portals; car sales; classified Ads; reports; sms updates...the list is endless. However, newspaper men are wedded to their paper editions and therein lies the problem. The smell of the ink.
They should not be, when the consumer, their readers, want something else (digital).
We would think that The Indy online now has new life and the potential to be an excellent big digital player. How's that for breathing life into a brand.
There's a lesson for newspaper men (and yes they are men) that like it or not, what's on your site is more important than what's on your Presses. Whingeing won't do it but brave moves will - in line with what readers want.
Just like what The Indy has done.