The Independent bid farewell to the printing press yesterday (26 March) after the last ever print edition of the newspaper hit newsstands.
The paper bowed out with a wraparound reading simply "Stop Press" and an exclusive story about a British connection in a plot to kill a Saudi king. The front page features a poignant image of train passengers in Brussels being evacuated during an anti-terrorism operation in Brussels.
The final editorial discusses the shift to digital-only, referring to the move as a “bold transition” which it says “history will judge as an example for other newspapers around the world to follow”.
Inside the paper were four special-edition magazines which recount the title's 40 year history including comments from foreign correspondent Patrick Cockburn, former journalist and Bridget Jones’s Diary author Helen Fielding and the paper’s former literary editor and Birdsong author Sebastian Faulks.
Russian owner of the newspaper, Evgeny Lebedev, defended the Independent’s move to online-only in a letter published in the edition. He argued that 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,” said Lebedev. “Some of you might have done that nearly 10,000 times since 1986. The depth of our gratitude is impossible to express.”
Owner of the title, ESI Media, decided to go digital-only after selling the i newspaper which had been financially supporting the print editions of the Independent and the Independent on Sunday. The move has been met with some criticism in light of the 100 journalists who will lose their job and the significant salary cuts imposed on the remaining senior staff.