Independent Targets Lapsed Readers With New-Launch ‘I’

Alexander Lebedev’s Independent is to launch a new compact weekday newspaper, called i, targeting groups including “lapsed readers of quality papers” and those wanting a “comprehensive digest of news”.

The title, which will go on sale next Tuesday priced 20p, will publish Monday to Friday and has been designed to complement the Independent, which will remain on sale at £1. revealed on Friday that the Independent was planning to launch a new 20p daily.

“i is specifically targeted at readers and lapsed readers of quality newspapers and those of all ages,” the publisher said. “i will combine intelligence with brevity and depth with speed of reading, providing an essential daily briefing.”

The Independent is also getting an overhaul with a “distinctive new look and feel” to be introduced in line with the launch of i. The new title is being overseen by Simon Kelner, the editor-in-chief of the Independent and Independent on Sunday.

“With the launch of i, we are again doing something radical and new, creating a paper for today that retains the essential qualities of the Independent,” said Kelner.

The publisher claims the title is the first quality daily newspaper to launch in almost 25 years, since the Independent.i is aiming to appeal to readers who want a “concise, quality daily paper for just 20p”.

“Ever since the Independent launched the paper has had a reputation for innovation and boldness and now we are creating the first postmodern newspaper, attractive to those who prize intelligence, convenience and desirability,” Kelner said.

The launch of the title will be backed by a major outdoor advertising campaign by ad agency Beattie McGuinness Bungay.

No official information has been given on the title’s pagination, initial print run or distribution strategy. However, it is understood that it will have national distribution with a circulation target of 400,000.

Nearly all of the content will be taken from the Independent with “some small unique stuff around the edges”, according to one source.

The Independent managing director, Andy Mullins, said that the title would look to target readers, “especially commuters”, who do not have time to read regular quality daily newspapers.

“Time-poor newspaper readers, and especially commuters, have been telling us for years that they are inundated with information and just don’t have the time to read a quality newspaper on a regular basis,” he added. “We are creating a newspaper for the 21st century that is designed for people who have a thirst for information and entertainment in the limited time that they have available.”

The Independent needs to attract new readers after seeing its full price paid-for circulation fall to less than 100,000 copies in the UK and Ireland.Most of its sales are currently within the M25.

Lebedev, owner of the Independent titles through his UK company Independent Print, said that the launch was the latest example of his commitment to the UK newspaper industry.

“My commitment is to a strong and vibrant free press as well as creating innovative media ventures with first class journalism,” he added.

Lebedev acquired the Independent titles in March this year after buying them from Independent News & Media for £1.

He also owns 75% of the London Evening Standard, following a deal struck with former owner Daily Mail (LSE: DMGT) & General Trust in January 2009.

The Evening Standard went free in October last year and there was speculation that Lebedev would adopt the same tactic with the Independent. The i launch suggests that he has chosen to take a different route.

Lebedev is also co-owner of Moscow-based newspaper Novaya Gazeta, alongside former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev.

“We believe that newspapers still have a future, and a very important one,” said Evgeny Lebedev, chairman of Independent Print. “We have shown by our investment in the London Evening Standard that, even in these highly competitive times, it is possible to revive a brand, and we aim to do the same with the Independent by the launch of i and the improvements to the parent paper.”

This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.