Blackhurst says Indy titles can make a profit

Chris Blackhurst: joins The Independent's parent company's board
Chris Blackhurst: joins The Independent's parent company's board

If the Independent could "find a way of monetising digital", then it could erase the title's estimated £20m annual losses, says Independent editor Chris Blackhurst, who has been appointed group editorial director across Independent newspapers and the London Evening Standard.

Blackhurst this week joined the boards of the Evening Standard Limited and Independent Print Limited, as well as continuing as editor of The Independent.

Blackhurst told Media Week the reason behind the appointment was that "I think Evgeny [Lebedev] wanted someone from editorial on the board and to play a role in what might happen going forward".

He added: "We have to face facts, the market is tough. Newspapers are facing all sorts of challenges, such as newsprint costs constantly going up. The Independent has never made a profit in 25 years and I think it is remarkable we are still going."

Questioned about the Independent titles ever making a profit, Blackhurst said: "If we find a way of monetising digital, the holy grail, then yes."

How this will be achieved is difficult to ascertain.

The Independent and The Independent on Sunday are thought to lose around £20m a year, although Blackhurst would not confirm this.

The Independent's website is still a minnow compared to rival national newspaper websites.

In February, it registered 6,337,648 monthly users, compared to market-leading MailOnline with 30,569, 240 monthly users.

In October last year, The Independent introduced a revamped website and an international paywall, as it moved to monetise overseas visitors to the website.

But there are no imminent plans to introduce a blanket paywall, such as at The Times website, across the site, according to Blackhurst.

But the four titles are reaping some cost savings.

Already the business and sports desks across the London Evening Standard and The Independent, The Independent on Sunday and i have been merged. They also share resources commercially.

Blackhurst believes one crucial factor is that "all the titles need to maintain their individual identity and characteristics" in the future, although he added that "nothing is ruled out, nothing ruled in".

Follow John Reynolds on Twitter @johnreynolds10

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