A regional Sunday newspaper has closed after more than 200 years in print – with around 20 people set to lose their jobs as a result.
Staff at the Sunday Independent, which covers the South-West of England, were told this morning that the newspaper had ceased trading.
The paper, which has a particular focus on sport, ran a series of editions covering Cornwall, Plymouth, Devon and Bristol & Somerset and counts Alastair Campbell among its journalistic alumni.
Today’s closure follows the death last August of its proprietor Brian Doel just hours after he had assisted with production of the newspaper’s latest edition.
Brian had run the Independent since 2014 after acquiring a 51pc stake in the title from Tindle Newspapers at the same time he stepped down as that company’s managing director.
Editor John Collings, who has been at the helm since 1988, said: “Last Sunday’s Indy was the last one. That is, unless somebody comes over the horizon on a white horse.”
John told Devon Live conditions had been difficult for some time in the local press, but added: “I don’t think we saw this coming. It’s a small staff of about 20 people. They all worked so hard, and we were actually trading well.
“It needs some investment and financial TLC. Without that, we just couldn’t go on.”
According to Devon Live, a firm of accountants is believed to be trying to sell the Independent, which is based in Liskeard, Cornwall.
In October, the Independent received a £2,500 grant from the England and Wales Cricket Board to help supplement its coverage of professional cricket.
Judges for the County Cricket Journalism Awards said they had been impressed by the paper’s in-depth coverage of Somerset, Gloucestershire, Minor County and club cricket in the South-West region.
John told HTFP: “Sadly, the decision has been made this morning to stop trading the Sunday Independent as of today – unless something totally unforeseen happens in the next day or so.
“The news has not totally sunk in yet with any of the 20 or so staff, and a host of contributors from Bristol, to Swindon, to Weymouth and all the way down to Land’s End, who we are in the process of contacting. Since the owner’s sudden death last August everyone here has worked tirelessly to keep the Indy going.
“We have, in fact, been trading well in the past year but Brian’s death de-railed our proposals for further investment and growth and, to date, it has not been possible to find some new investors, or someone with the necessary financial TLC, to continue.
“The Indy has been going in some form or other for more than 200 years and, hopefully, someone knows of someone who can ride to our rescue even at this late hour.”