Evening Standard scraps daily print paper blaming work from home for demise

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The Evening Standard has announced plans to cease its daily print edition, transitioning to a weekly format as it grapples with the impact of remote work and improved wifi on the London Underground.

The London-based freesheet informed staff on Wednesday that it will halt daily publication, instead introducing a weekly edition. The fate of the weekly ES Magazine is also uncertain, with discussions underway about potentially reducing its publication frequency.

In a memo to staff, the Standard cited unsustainable losses and outlined plans to “reshape the business” to ensure its long-term viability. The transition aims to provide more in-depth analysis and cover a broader range of topics, from entertainment and lifestyle to sports and culture.

Owned by Russian-born billionaire Lord Lebedev, the Evening Standard has struggled with declining readership and advertising revenue, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The shift to remote work and increased mobile connectivity on public transport have further diminished its commuter audience. In October, the paper’s print circulation fell below 300,000 for the first time since it became a free newspaper in 2009, down from a peak of over 900,000 in 2016.

Surging inflation and rising print costs have also impacted the paper, which has reduced its average page count from 70 a decade ago to around 30. Despite efforts to diversify through sponsored content and live events, advertising remains the primary revenue source. The company claims a monthly UK audience of 12 million, with significant traffic from outside London and overseas.

To sustain the publication, Lord Lebedev has injected loans totalling at least £29 million over the past two years, with the newspaper reporting losses of £16.4 million in 2022. Additional funding is required to maintain operations, and Lord Lebedev has committed to providing support for another 12 months.

The Evening Standard, founded in 1827, has experienced significant managerial upheaval recently. It remains without a permanent chief executive following the departure of Charles Yardley and his interim successor Rich Mead. Editorial leadership has also seen changes, with Dylan Jones, former editor of GQ, taking over as editor-in-chief after Emily Sheffield’s brief tenure ended in 2021. Under Jones, the paper has attracted high-profile columnists such as artist Tracey Emin and journalist Michael Wolff.

Lord Lebedev, who also co-owns The Independent, has faced increasing scrutiny, particularly following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. His peerage nomination by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2020 sparked controversy, especially after his father, ex-KGB agent Alexander Lebedev, was sanctioned by Canada. Despite these challenges, Lord Lebedev has publicly denounced the Kremlin and called for an end to the war in Ukraine.

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