This week the Independent will publish its last ever print edition. With a reduced number of staff being kept on to work on the digital-only edition, around 75 journalists are thought to be being made redundant. So last night’s Words by Women journalism awards proved to be a poignant affair with several soon-to-be ex-Indy journalists present.
While Independent on Sunday editor Lisa Markwell said it was a ‘bit emotional’ — while presenting an award — as it was the first time she’d been called the paper’s ‘former editor’, Indy columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown appeared to be experiencing a real mix of emotions when it came to her take on the paper’s demise.
When introducing the Political Journalist of the Year category, Alibhai-Brown — whose columns for the Indy have included ‘Spare me the tears over the white working class‘ and ‘I like Corbyn, but let’s face it: we don’t need another white man at the head of a political party‘ — launched into a speech about the end of her career with the paper. In this, she told readers to keep a tab on the number of men the paper kept on for the digital edition compared with the number of women — claiming it will be the ‘same old story’:
‘I want to say something because it’s a difficult day today and I’ve been crying all day. I wrote my last column for the Independent today, and I want to say to Lisa, I am broken-hearted but the thing is the people who go online, watch out.
See how many men carry on online, and count the women. It will be the same old story, it never changes, and it’s not good enough.’
Alibhai-Brown then went one step further and claimed that the Indy had got rid of all of their ‘wonderful women’ writers ahead of the transition to digital:
‘You know I’m always making trouble but I want you to hear this, and the younger generation to monitor who the Independent has got online now, because we’ve had wonderful women and we’re all gone.’
However, given that the paper’s proprietor Evgeny Lebedev has already secured Indy writer Grace Dent for the online edition, Alibhai-Brown may wish to reconsider whether ‘all’ the ‘wonderful women’ are really gone.