Stephen Glover: 'The dream of an independent newspaper, free of proprietorial control is dead'
Stephen Glover, one of the three journalistic founders of the Independent, says today that the vision that prompted the launch of the paper is no longer obtainable.
Writing in the paper, Glover says: "The dream of a profitable, non-partisan newspaper free of proprietorial control has been dead for many years. To be precise, it died when Mirror Group Newspapers became dominant shareholders in the titles in 1995. We could argue whether, if mistakes had not been made, the dream could have been sustained, but the fact is that it collapsed long ago."
He adds: "In its twenty-three-and-a-half year life, The Independent has only made a profit for one, possibly two, years. Its habit of losing money does not make it unique. I doubt The Times has been profitable during a single year since Rupert Murdoch bought it in 1981, and figures released last week suggest that it lost at least £70m, possibly as much as £85m, in the 12 months to June 2009. The Guardian's annual losses are running at about £30m. The Independent is said to have lost £12m last year.
Glover says the new owner of the paper, Alexander Lebedev, should not be seen as a "sugar-daddy" and that the Independent will only be secure if it can break-even.
"Surely it is obvious that the present model is never going to be commercially viable. Left alone, the paper will continue to wither, as The Times and The Guardian are continuing to wither, each rather magnificent in its way, but each dangerously, and potentially fatally, far from profitability."
Glover asks: "Will The Independent be around in 10 or 20 years' time? Only if it acquires the habit of not losing money. I would say exactly the same about The Guardian and The Times."
I am a freelance journalist based in the UK and was deputy editor of Press Gazette, the journalists' magazine, from 1993 until 2006. I want to give an independent view on media matters.
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