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December 19, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 8:45am

Tech news website The Inquirer ceases publishing as ad revenues struggle despite ‘healthy’ audience

By Charlotte Tobitt

Technology news website The Inquirer has closed suddenly despite “healthy” readership figures as ad revenues come under “increasing scrutiny”.

Staff were given the news at the end of last week and their final day of publishing was today. The website, which launched in 2001 and often has a tongue in cheek tone, will remain live until March.

Two jobs have been lost as a result – editor Carly Page and associate editor Chris Merriman – while a further two regular freelance contributing editors, Alan Martin and Roland Moore-Colyer, are out of work.

Alan Loader, managing director of technology media at the title’s owner Incisive Media, told Press Gazette: “We have reluctantly made the decision to close The Inquirer to allow us to focus on the events side of our business and to reduce our exposure to programmatic advertising, at a time when this type of revenue is coming under increasing scrutiny.”

Announcing the news to readers today, Page put the company’s decision down to a “recent decline in digital advertising, along with a change of focus for the business”. She told Press Gazette Incisive had also cited “changing market conditions”.

The Inquirer was founded by Mike Magee in 2001, seven years after he launched fellow tech title The Register.

He sold the brand to the Dutch-owned trade publisher VNU for a rumoured seven-figure sum in 2006.

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VNU’s London operation was subsequently bought by Incisive Media, which also owns B2B titles Professional Pensions, Business Green, Investment Week and Computing.

Page described her time at the website, which she has edited for three years, as an “absolute privilege” and said its readers were its “lifeblood”.

“Before joining, I was a long-time admirer of the site, which since its debut in 2001 has energised tech journalism with its fearless attitude, snarky reporting, world-reaching exclusives and its ability to have an, er,  bit fun now and again,” she said.

She told readers: “Without you, The Inquirer would have been a short-lived experiment, but your inquisitiveness, support and, er, often honest feedback made The Inquirer the success that it was.”

Merriman, who has worked at The Inquirer for six years, told Press Gazette its audience was “very brilliant”. He said it currently averages about 3m unique monthly visitors compared to a peak of 5m during his and Page’s tenures.

“On paper certainly it was in good health which is why from our point of view, because we have nothing to do with ad sales and campaigns and things like that, we weren’t to know there was anything wrong,” he said.

“We were quietly very pleased. It was ticking along nicely but the main thing that struck me today is just the sheer outpouring of love we’ve had from our readers saying ‘there’s nothing else like you, we don’t know what we’re going to do’.

“The main thing that I want to take away from this is the fact that yes, we were unique and we tried to do things a bit differently on what could often be a very dull subject, and I don’t think we realised how loved we are.

“It makes it all the more sad but also all the more lovely at the same time.”

Merriman added that he saw The Inquirer as a “tech version of Private Eye” while The Register is “more tabloid-y”.

On Twitter, Martin said the closure was “desperately sad as this is the most consistently fun outlet I’ve written for since going freelance”.

He added: “I don’t think there’s anything quite like The Inquirer that I’ve seen out there in tech.

“Piss-takey, but critical. Irreverent and never deferential. It was just fun.”

Moore-Colyer said he was “gutted… to see a well-liked and rather different brand get abandoned by its publisher”.

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