Death of a newspaper
The Independent printed its last edition on March 26 after a 30-year run. It has now decided to go digital-only.
With a liberal-left policy line, The Independent was one of the U.K.’s rising journalism stars in the late 1980s and throughout the 90s. Its example was actually one of the inspirations behind the founding of daily Radikal in Turkey 10 years later in 1996. With a liberal-leftist editorial stance voicing the concerns of educated urbanites, Radikal was a rising star of Turkish journalism through to the late 2000s with courageous approach to political and financial scandals.
One day before the closure of The Independent’s print edition, Radikal ceased to exist on March 25 – after 20 years of ups and downs. Two years ago in 2014, Radikal took the same step as The Independent two days ago, deciding to publish online-only. Now, for sustainability reasons, its entire operation has come to an end.
I worked as Radikal’s Ankara bureau chief between 2001 and 2011 until I assumed the current editor-in-chief position at the Hürriyet Daily News, which is also part of the Doğan Media Group. For the last 15 years I have written daily current affairs news and analysis for Radikal. I have witnessed almost all the ups and downs of the paper and its website.
Over the last few years I have attended a number of national and international-level meetings in search of the future of journalism, with no clear optimism about any light at the end of the tunnel. It may be that the digital revolution is slowly killing journalism, starting with quality journalism. The digital shift is the inevitable and main factor behind decreasing revenues, shrinking newsrooms, and the fall in the number of reporters, editors and producers. But it is not the only factor.
The change of the political and social atmosphere at national and global levels is also a factor. The rise of terrorism, counter-terrorism measures, more regulations, and direct or indirect limitations on the media - which change from one country to the next depending on the quality of democracy there - are among those factors. The circumstances that have led to dwindling digital revenues being shared between an increasing number of brands have made it increasingly difficult for papers that rely on a particular, preferred profile of readers and viewers.
It is no coincidence that The Independent in the U.K. and Radikal in Turkey have both collapsed during this transformation, which shows no sign settling down. A newspaper or a website starts to die when its readers stop paying for it and when companies stop giving ads.
Both The Independent and Radikal were newspapers that contributed to the public’s right to know, adding new dimensions and color to their readers’ outlook. I hope the fate of the new digital-only Independent will not be the same as that of Radikal.