Great survivor Kelner moves on as Indy ed-in-chief

Simon Kelner's 13-year-stint as editor and then editor-in-chief of The Independent has come to an end.

An announcement about a future role for him still working for Independent proprietors the Lebedevs is expected in the near future.

In an email to staff today, owner of the Independent titles Evgeny Lebedev said: 'Simon is stepping down as editor-in-chief of The Independent today. He will remain as a non-executive board director of Independent Print Ltd and will continue to write his column for i.

'A further announcement about his new role outside IPL will be made shortly. Simon's contribution to both The Independent and i has been considerable. It is now for Chris [Blackhurst] to lead efforts to strengthen our paper."

Kelner has been one of the great survivors in the national press, steering The Independent through a period in which predictions of its imminent demise have been a constant up until the point when Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev and his son Evgeny took over the titles in early 2010.

He was editor of The Independent from 1998-2008, managing director from 2008 to 2010 and then made editor again in April 2010.

Last month it was announced that Kelner would become editor-in-chief, following the appointment of Chris Blackhurst as Independent editor, but that he would have no day-to-day involvement in the running of the papers. Just a month later it would appear that arrangement has not worked out.

As editor of The Independent, Kelner's greatest innovation was taking the paper tabloid (or compact) in 2003 – initially publishing both a broadsheet and tabloid edition within the M25. It was a move which was quickly followed by The Times and which initially led to a big uplift in sales.

Kelner also pioneered the idea of a daily newspaper being a 'viewspaper'and increasingly adopted high-impact ‘concept' front pages. He is understood to be particularly proud of The Independent's principled opposition to the invasion of Iraq.

Speaking to Press Gazette in May last year, Kelner said: 'There's no doubt about it, if the Lebedevs had not come in this paper would not exist and there were times at the back end of last year when I never thought we'd get it over the line and were going to have to close down."

Asked whether he felt that the paper was ready to set forth on to the sunlit uplands of recovery, he said: "I feel like we are still sailing across the Bay of Biscay in a rowing boat. I guess I'll always feel like that. You don't work for the Independent as long as I've worked at The Independent and feel like you are going to be standing at the top of the summit surveying everyone else."

He added: "We are basically a start-up business. We haven't got a sister paper in Ireland making millions, or South Africa that will come to our rescue. We have to stand and fall by our own efforts. Whilst it's a bit scary it's also very invigorating."

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