Decamping to Digital Yes, this is the final print issue of The Independent. And a renewed focus on what we do best.

by Walter Pierce

Yes, March is the final print issue of The Independent. And a renewed focus on what we do best.

Photo by Robin May

I have a quintessentially 21st century distinction: a newspaper’s last editor. By newspaper I mean the physical thing — ink on paper printed on folios by a press. We’re in the 18th year of the “new” century, which I guess makes me a Wally come lately. But I won’t be the final last editor; news consumers’ embrace of digital will grow. We’re responding here at The Independent. The economics of the newspaper business have changed dramatically over the last 15 years. That doesn’t mean newspapers as an institution, journalism, is going anywhere. It’s as robust as it’s ever been, even as its institutional integrity has been diluted by the Breitbarts and Occupy Democrats of the ideological blogosphere, not to mention a president who has characterized us as an “enemy of the people.” Screw that. But honestly, this is liberating. We embraced digital-first journalism here at The IND years ago. I’m ready for digital-only.

Yet even as The IND makes the migration, we’re rolling out a new glossy print publication in April. It’s called The Current. IND Staff Writer Christiaan Mader will be its editor. Leslie Turk will continue to edit ABiz in print and online, and I’ll remain managing editor of The IND as well as high mucketymuck of crappy Photoshop illustrations and sarcasm that occasionally crosses the line. This isn’t even affecting my expense account. Because I never had one. And each of us will contribute to the other publications and websites under the aegis of IND Media.

Two things happened last year that made development of The Current and The IND’s move to digital-only an obvious course direction. Overture, the publication of the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra, folded, creating a vacuum for arts and culture coverage in an otherwise saturated, highly competitive local glossy-pub market. And a reader survey we conducted last September underscored the changing news consumption habits of our readers: 51 percent of you said in the survey that you’re more likely to get our content online than in print; another 33 percent said you were just as likely to get it online as in print. The math was easy, and multiplying that second-grade addition were other equations: the rising cost of printing a newspaper and a growing number of advertisers finally getting increasingly comfortable with online marketing — millennials moving into management positions is my theory — a situation newspapers have been trying to get a handle on since they started cutting the ribbon on their websites around the turn of the century.

We’ll be debuting some new features at soon. But we were also reminded of something in that September reader survey: It ain’t broke so don’t fix it. You come to us for insight, for investigative reporting, political coverage and commentary, a progressive perspective, longform journalism and the best writing in the market, not to mention attitude. That’s not going anywhere. But your birdcage will never be the same. — Walter Pierce