29.10.10

An Independent Spin-off Called 'i' for the New Media Age

Almost 25 years after the launch of the Independent, the UK newspaper launched its spin-off title call "i" in Britain on Tuesday, Oct 26, calling itself "The paper for today."

The new newspaper claims to "combine intelligence with  brevity and depth with speed of reading" and is the brainchild of Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev who owns the liberal Independent daily and its Sunday sister paper.

The Russian tycoon bought the London Evening Standard in  2009 and turned it into a free paper.

According to media reports, the 56-page tabloid will be distributed nationally and promoted with the catchy, if illiterate, marketing slogan: "'i' is, are you?".

DPA quoted managing director Andrew Mullins as saying: "Time-poor newspaper readers, and especially commuters, have been telling us for years that they are inundated with information and just don't have the time to read a quality newspaper on a regular basis".

From the look of 'i', it is designed to attract younger readers and appeal to readers who might have swapped newspapers for online news.

The newspaper believes a slimmed down, faster-paced version of the main paper will appeal to readers who might have swapped traditional newspapers for the web.

It is the first national daily to launch since the Independent in 1986.

Newspaper Publishing executives said the 20p version would complement the Indy. Media buyers were told 'i' should have a circulation of 250,000-280,000 copies. Sales of the Independent have dropped to around 183,000 a day from about 250,000 three years ago.

According to Andrew Power, of the agency Phd, the "smart move" would test whether there was a market for a succinct, quality title.

According to The Guardian, The Independent sold 182,776 copies daily on average in September, down by 1.99 percent year-on-year, but foreign sales and more than 95,000 free or discounted copies are included in that figure.

DPA reported that the new paper uses the same editorial staff as the Independent.

We all know that in recent years, traditional print media has  been losing ground to new media online. Many newspapers in the US and elsewhere are continuously losing circulation and some have gone bankrupt.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch's empire has also been taking some hard knocks revenue-wise and looking for a new business model to rejuvenate the industry.

Murdoch has been at the forefront in his campaign to make his News Corp's media websites charge readers by setting up a paywall.

He had also accused search engine giant Google of "stealing" news from his news organisations to use on Big G's own news aggregator site.

If the Independent's move is successful, don't be surprised when other newspapers facing hard times also start to keep up with the changing times with their own spin-offs. - Markk

> Will Google blink when Murdoch gives the finger?

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