Congratulations to The Independent who are the winners of Digital Editorial Team of the Year: Consumer 2018
Your ’Elevator Pitch’
In 2017 The Independent reached more readers and wielded more influence than ever before, after achieving a transformation that many thought impossible: turning a revered yet declining newspaper into a vibrant and rapidly expanding website – underpinned by the values that have always made the title distinctive.
The numbers show the rapid pace of growth. Every month of 2017 showed year-on-year gains, readership surging by as much as 72 per cent compared to the equivalent month in 2016. Having never reached 100m unique users in a month before, we exceeded it seven times during 2017, reaching 123m uniques in August.
Set The Scene
We wanted The Independent to stay alive; when the print edition closed, many doubted whether it was possible. But in 2017, our first full year as a digital-only brand, we proved the sceptics were wrong.
Still, we needed to prove that we could not only survive but thrive. We needed to deliver the traditional staples of hard-hitting scoops, agenda-setting commentary, and top-quality sports coverage, while also reaching a huge new audience through social media, award-winning podcasts and video reportage. We had to compete with brands which still had a print presence; and with those who had no legacy to maintain.
Tell Us The Story
We had a big task in 2017. But by the end of the year The Independent had the highest Facebook reach and engagement of any of the main news publishers in the UK. And we did this while keeping social justice, international reporting and politics to the fore.
But the numbers alone do not tell the story of the site’s success. The best-shared stories were on serious events –not, as some critics might contend, “clickbait”.
Our lobby team produced coverage of the highest quality on Brexit. Sketch writer Tom Peck was outstanding in exposing politicians’ failings and foibles.
In a general election where the big beasts of Fleet Street expect to set the agenda, The Independent – in true form –refused to back a party, but by engaging with younger voters, especially on issues such as tuition fees and voter registration, we showed our influence has never been more powerful.
We made significant investments in foreign coverage, with staff positions created in Brussels, Moscow, New York, Washington DC and San Francisco.
We had correspondents on the frontline in Mosul, Yemen and Syria, delivering exclusives. Foreign correspondent Kim Sengupta was one of the first to make it into Zimbabwe during the fall of Mugabe.
Our comment team worked with new voices on race and gender politics and also established one of our new podcasts, with Double Talk. Culture editor, Christopher Hooton, also got in on the act, presenting the award-winning Kernels film podcast.
The first full year as a digital-only publisher was always going to be a challenge, but it produced stunning results, with the Indy hitting profit after decades of losses. A threatened newspaper with a declining circulation became one of the best read, most surprising, politically potent and commercially successful news sites in the country.
We had seven of the 10 most shared stories on Facebook from UK websites last year, including all of the top three.
Our search traffic grew by 77 per cent year-on-year in December; live-blog traffic doubled in just one month between November and December.
Our growth in the US meant we often had more readers in America than in the UK.
And finally, The Independent Daily Edition app went from strength to strength, with more readers paying for our subscriber service than had subscribed to the print edition of The Independent newspaper prior to its closure.