The i is creating about 20 journalist jobs this year following a cash influx from new parent company Daily Mail and General Trust.
Staff were told on Wednesday that as part of this investment there will be a reorganisation of the newsroom, merging the print and digital teams for the first time.
Mail and Metro publisher DMGT bought the i for £49.6m in November 2019, but the title continued to operate separately until March – just before the first Covid-19 lockdown hit – when the deal was cleared by the Government.
DMGT owner Lord Rothermere said at the time of the purchase that the i would benefit from the company’s “long-term approach and commitment to investing in editorial content”.
Specific investment for journalist recruitment and growth in certain parts of the newsroom has now been allocated. It will boost the i’s editorial staff of around 85 by roughly a fifth.
i editor-in-chief Oly Duff said: “We are excited to be investing in original journalism once again. i’s fast digital growth and the success of our print editions, especially iweekend, show our readers’ appetite for news reporting that they trust.
“Our non-partisan political coverage is especially important to i readers – 85% of them live outside the London bubble.
“The calibre of the journalists joining i is a statement of intent. We’re a growth project in British media but we have only just got started. 2021 is going to be a busy year in our newsroom.”
The news team is growing from 31 to 44 roles with news editors rising from seven to 11.
The 15 roles currently being advertised are: five news reporters, political reporter, foreign editor, visual data journalist, i Weekend news features editor, assistant news editor, two feature writers, audience development manager and two audience executives.
It is expected that about five more roles will be created over the coming months, with investment also coming in opinion, culture and sport. Some additional appointments have already been made.
The title has just hired Daily Mail executive news editor Amy Iggulden as its first editorial director to oversee the news, comment, arts, features, sports and money departments through a mixture of strategy, planning and daily coverage.
Sun daily news editor and former Mail Online assistant news editor Mark Davies will join as head of news as Andrew Johnson becomes assistant editor (politics). A number of other staff have also shuffled roles to lead the reorganised newsroom.
It is now structured around three main desks – politics, breaking and national – and staff will now file for all platforms. There are no job losses as a result of this reorganisation.
Former Times political editor Francis Elliott, who recently left the paper after 13 years to join the Engage Britain charity as its director of advocacy, will write a fortnightly political interview column. Spectator assistant editor Isabel Hardman will write a monthly column on health policy and a number of other columnists are expected to be added to the roster.
The inews website was given a new look last week and the print paper and app will both be refreshed in the coming months.
The latest Pamco figures, published in December, show the i reaches 7.7m people per month across print and digital (5.4m on mobile, 1.2m in print, 824,000 on tablet and 808,000 on desktop). It reaches 979,000 people every day.
It has been consistently named as one of the most trusted newspaper brands by Pamco, drawing level with the Guardian with an 86% trust rating in April last year.
DMGT also pledged to preserve the i’s editorial independence.