Britain’s Independent newspaper to cease print editions

LONDON – Britain’s Independent newspaper will publish its last print edition next month as it makes a “historic transition” to digital-only format, its owner said Friday.

ESI Media said The Independent’s final paper edition will appear March 26. Sister paper the Independent on Sunday will end with the March 20 issue.

Owner Evgeny Lebedev said The Independent brand will continue online.

“We faced a choice: manage the continued decline of print, or convert the digital foundation we’ve built into a sustainable, profitable future,” he said in an email to the staff.

Lebedev said there would be layoffs, but it was not immediately clear how many.

Another of the company’s papers, the commuter-focused daily newspaper i, has been sold to regional newspaper publisher Johnston Press for 24 million pounds ($35 million).

The Independent, founded in 1986, has employed high-profile journalists including Robert Fisk, Will Self and Helen Fielding, who created “Bridget Jones’s Diary” for its pages. It became known for its emphasis on international news and for avoiding the traditional British media practice of slotting into left- or right-wing camps.

Like other papers, The Independent has seen its print circulation plummet with the rise of digital media. It now distributes fewer than 60,000 copies a day, down from a high of more than 400,000.

Lebedev’s ESI Media also owns London’s Evening Standard newspaper, distributed free on weekdays.