Monday, 30 November 2009

Has the Independent had its day?

It would appear that the Independent’s future may be more perilous than was previously thought. It has been widely acknowledged for some time that the paper has had financial problems, with losses reputed to be in the region of £10 million a year, leading to workforce reductions and the Independent’s remaining staff being forced to rent office space in the Daily Mail’s headquarters of all places.

A source who prefers not to be named has told me that the paper is now being invoiced on a daily basis for its distribution, after its circulation has continued to drop, now below 200,000 copies per day, posing ever deeper questions about its financial viability. The paper’s ownership deserve much credit for keeping the Independent running for as long as they have, in the face of the losses they have incurred over recent years; the renascence it enjoyed after becoming the first ‘compact’ broadsheet seems so long ago now.

Should the Independent go, the political balance of the British press will become even weaker than it already is. Of the major titles the Mirror is alone in representing the left, and with the Guardian, the Independent representing a centrist viewpoint. All of the rest firmly support a right-wing view of the world, spreading pessimism and pandering to irrational fear. Clearly the circulation figures suggest the British public prefer their news to represent this view and the dominance of the tabloid format hints at unwillingness to read a story expanded beyond the bare facts.

I hope the Independent can survive, it seems sad to me that virtually all newspaper sales are focused on such a narrow point of view. We need papers that challenge the prevailing opinion; opposing the Iraq war, promoting environmental issues, supporting civil liberties and campaigning for electoral reform to fix Britain’s crooked politics.  What other paper would run a blank front page with simply "WHITEWASH?" printed to display their contempt at an establishment cover up?

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