After 30 years, one of the nation’s most well-known newspapers has announced it will be ceasing print; the final issue of The Independent will be published on 26th March, with The Independent on Sunday’s final issue appearing the following day.
The Independent is renowned for its vivid front pages and campaigning tone. Most recently, its sensitive and compelling coverage of the European migrant crisis starkly communicated the gravity of the distressing situation. Its now-famous front page depicting the lifeless body of Aylan Al-Kurdi highlighted the reality and desperation of the crisis, engaging directly with every individual who saw that image.
With this in mind, we have to wonder what the paper’s final front page will look like. How to sum up 30 years in one issue? A copy to look forward to that is for certain.
Of course, the digitalisation of a national newspaper automatically calls into question what this means for print media as a whole. This discussion is not new and has been going on for a lengthy amount of time. However, now The Indy has taken this step, these conversations will no doubt amplify.
Breaking news is now available at every second of every minute of every hour of every day, with alerts set up so we receive the stories directly to our phones. We digest news quickly and in bite-size chunks, reading a feature during our mid-morning coffee break, an article during a lunchtime browse, scrolling down the news feeds on our train journey home. If a paper has an exclusive, it is increasingly difficult to keep this under wraps before it is released to the internet, where it becomes old news within seconds.
Therefore, does print news still have a place in our society? Is it an out-dated legacy of a time before life online?
We have to wonder whether The Independent is acting as a trailblazer, ensuring the way we digest news is compatible with the modern person. Alternatively, is its decision to end a sign of defeat (which its reduced number of readers might suggest)?
There is already a nostalgic element to turning the pages of a paper or a book, with the new generation now exposed to digital, as opposed to being gradually introduced like generations of previous years. Yes, the world of digital brings exciting opportunities, with the ever-changing social climate allowing us to engage like never before. Yet, there is something different about picking up a physical paper copy of a paper. You may be encouraged to read stories you would simply glance at online or spend your time reading the whole piece instead of scrolling to the end. A paper is a curated collection of news, features and articles that are deemed the most important that day and should be considered as a complete package.
Although modernisation is important, I for one will be sad to see The Independent go and wistfully hope the others will not follow suit.