A new production team at The Independent has been busy producing dummies this week for the launch of the new Monday-to-Friday tabloid edition that editor Simon Kelner believes could shake up the moribund broadsheet market.
The first issue of the new 88-page paper hits news stands within the M25 ring next Tuesday, selling alongside the broadsheet version. The two versions will be identical in content and price, 60p. Initial print runs for the tabloid will be 85,000, although Kelner said he was “venturing into the unknown” so had no idea how many broadsheet readers would “migrate” to the new size. Commuters, young readers and women are the main targets.
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If the new venture proves successful – Kelner will be happy if he ends up with a steady 10,000 extra sales overall – he hopes to roll it out to other urban centres such as Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and Glasgow.
On Wednesday, Kelner and managing editor Jan Thompson met NUJ officials to quell any staff unease about the venture. “Journalists don’t like the thought that there’s something going on that they don’t know chapter and verse on. They see rumours and speculation in other papers and, because it has that express purpose, they feel unsettled by it. I understand that.”
At the meeting he promised extra casual production staff from day one of the tabloid’s launch plus a monthlong review of how it was working, jointly with the NUJ. Day-to-day blips will also be ironed out jointly. Extra pay is likely to be part of the review.
“Journalists want to be part of an organisation that’s going forward and I think this very much fits into this category,” said Kelner.
By Ian Reeves