The changing face of UK media

First national newspaper to embrace a global, digital-only future

…At least that’s the way the Independent’s own pages reported it, as one of the UK’s youngest national newspapers (launched in 1986) announced its migration online.

Evgeny Lebedev, owner of the Independent, said: “The newspaper industry is changing, and that change is being driven by readers. They’re showing us that the future is digital. This decision preserves the Independent brand and allows us to continue to invest in the high-quality editorial content that is attracting more and more readers to our online platforms.”

Imitation is the highest form of flattery

And just as one recognisable news brand was preparing itself to embrace a bright, bold, digital only future, BuzzFeed – the modern poster boy for an online only approach to news publication – was celebrating its ascent into mainstream media.

Janine Gibson, editor in chief of BuzzFeed UK, tweeted:

Jim Waterson, who covers politics for BuzzFeed UK, said:

The sentiment was reciprocated by BBC editor Rob Burley, responsible for the show, who tweeted:

“I like your style. I like your moves.” 

Waterson had just been on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show you see, reviewing the Sunday newspapers. Apparently he’d taken the maverick step to peruse an iPad (owned by Tom Newton Dunn the political editor of The Sun and afore-tagged @tnewtondunn above) for digital news as well as the print pages in front of him. Cue the BuzzFeed Twittersphere going crazy. 

Alanis Morissette, Elton John, Usher and Justin Bieber

Of course there is an obvious irony to a popular online publication acting so coyly around such an established media brand, akin perhaps to the youthful artists of the day who suddenly find themselves summoned to the stage to duet with Sir Elton John. And it’s here that Evgeny Lebedev’s comments about the Independent brand come back into play. An established and recognisable name still goes a long long way in a world where YouTube stars can become mainstream stars overnight – just ask Usher and Justin Bieber.

The Independent’s migration and BuzzFeed on the BBC are two stories that made February 2016 a seminal month for the UK media. But as online’s arrival on the mainstream media showed, the future’s not as bleak for traditional media brands as once purported. Adapting the Sunday newspaper review to include an online publication reviewing the news through an online platform may not seem like the biggest adaptation the media has ever been through. But adapting it is and as the enduring affinity with the BBC and Independent brands highlights, there’s still a bright future for legacy media owners online, if they embrace new platforms and new content.

More like this

Why Facebook works

The age of online television has finally arrived

Social peak has been reached

Your first step to joining FIPP's global community of media leaders

Sign up to FIPP World x