Roger Alton: Independent decline a 'personal failure'

Independent editor Roger Alton has forecast ‘carnage’ in the newspaper industry over the coming year and said he considered his paper’s falling circulation ‘a terrible personal failure’.

In an interview with Sky News Online, Alton – who joined the Independent in May after almost a decade editing the Observer – acknowledged that the paper’s 25 per cent price rise from 80p to £1 in September had not worked.

In the October national newspaper ABCs, circulation of the Independent fell 9.02 per cent month on month and 16.29 per cent year on year to 201,019.

“I feel a terrible personal failure – it’s a very nasty place to be if you’re me,” Alton told Sky News.

“I feel like I’ve let down all the staff. I feel like I haven’t been able to deliver either to them or the senior management.”

At £1, the Independent is the most expensive quality daily paper in the UK – excluding the Financial Times – costing 10p more than the Telegraph and Guardian, and 20p more than the Times.

Earlier this month, parent company Independent News and Media announced plans to cut up to 90 jobs in a bid to save about £10m in costs.

Redundancy consultations with staff are currently underway – and about 60 of the proposed cuts are likely to come from editorial, according to reports.

“It’s horrific out there, at the moment,” Alton told Sky News. “There’s already been carnage, and I expect there’ll be more. I’d be amazed if some newspapers didn’t fail.”

He said the Independent was in a more vulnerable position than some of its rivals because of its size. A scaled-down editorial team would clearly have an effect on the title, he said.

“If you were staging the musical Carousel and you had a cast of 13 instead of 33 it would be a very different thing, and you’d have to stage it differently,” Alton added.

• Read the Sky News interview with Roger Alton here

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