Fairfax winds up business paper

By John Drinnan

Warren Berryman. Photo / Supplied
Warren Berryman. Photo / Supplied

Fairfax Media has closed the Independent saying the media world has changed a lot since it bought the business title just four years ago.

The Independent was launched by journalists Warren Berryman and Jenni McManus in 1992 - as a breakaway from the National Business Review.

McManus still works for Fairfax.

The move was announced yesterday following months of speculation about the future of the title.

The Independent has struggled to compete with the NBR and faced added competition from the Herald's Friday Business Herald liftout.

The last Independent will be published on July 1.

Fairfax New Zealand executive editor Paul Thompson said there would be no job losses.

Business journalists were being moved to a business reporting hub in Auckland.

They had increasingly been writing stories for BusinessDay in the Press, Dominion Post and on the Stuff website, he said.

"It's sobering to realise how difficult it is to build a Number Two in a specialist area of the New Zealand market."

The media business had changed substantially since Fairfax bought the title in 2006.

NBR editor-in-chief Nevil Gibson said the Independent had never been a commercial threat but it had been a thorn in its side.

On an editorial level, it had lost direction since Berryman died in 2004, Gibson said.

Fairfax senior management has offered fierce support for the paper through tough times to maintain a profile in the business sector.

"The decision was not easy to make - but our readers are elsewhere. They are not reading the Independent and we needed to make this change," Thompson said.

One publishing source who would not be named said Fairfax had bought the Independent without having a clear idea what it was going to do with it.

"To improve circulation you had to put resources into the brand," the source said.

The Independent's circulation dropped from 4017 to 3235 in the second half of last year. NBR dropped from 9875 to 9566.

Millionaire businessman Tony Timpson bankrolled the Independent until Fairfax purchased it.

Recently he told NZPA the Independent was very successful at what it did, but it was never going to break the NBR's hold on advertisers.

"We thought we were doing something worthwhile," he said.

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