Just over a week after Roger Alton’s sudden departure as editor of the Independent, caretaker editor Simon Kelner is relaunching the title and reprising his ‘viewspaper’motto.
A dummy edition of the new-look front page, which is previewed in house ads in the paper today, has a news magazine look. Inside, the current features pullout “Life”, brought in by Alton when he led a redesign of the paper in 2008, has been ditched. Instead, The Independent is launching a 24-page section called “The Viewspaper” which it describes as “a unique section full of Britain’s best commentary and opinion”.
The relaunch comes just over three weeks after Alexander Lebedev finalised his deal to purchase the Independent and Independent on Sunday from Independent News and Media in a deal which will see the former KGB man be paid £9.25m over the next 10 months. Alton announced his resignation as editor on 9 April. His departure followed widespread speculation fuelled by the Lebedev camp that that he would be replaced as editor following their takeover.
The relaunch comes at a time when quality newspaper circulations are under unprecedented pressure as the recession has forced publishers to raise cover prices while at the same time offering readers slimmer papers because of a dearth of advertising.
In March, sales of The Independent dropped 10.3 per cent to 184,137. Sales of The Guardian dropped even faster year on year, by 17 per cent to 283,063.
Simon Kelner spent 10 years as Independent editor before being promoted to managing director and editor in chief in 2008. He is minding the shop until a replacement for Alton can be found.
According to The Guardian, no senior Independent editorial staff were involved in the redesign which it says has been masterminded by Claire Curran from PR agency Freuds.