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October 13, 2021updated 30 Sep 2022 10:40am

The Independent expands ‘commitment to making change happen’ with petitions platform and net zero target

By Charlotte Tobitt

The Independent is planning to launch its own petitions platform next year as part of a “commitment to making change happen”.

The digital newspaper has also set a target to be net zero on greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and is trialling a new advertising initiative featuring “game-changing insights”.

The new initiatives were announced to mark 35 years since The Independent launched in broadsheet format. It has been digital-only since 2016 and claims to reach 96m people globally each month.

Press Gazette’s latest rankings using Similarweb data for number of visits put The Independent seventh among the UK’s news websites with 46m in August, 50th in the US with 15m, and 22nd among the world’s English-language news websites with 86m.

Christian Broughton (pictured, left), the title’s managing director and former editor, said: “The Independent is more than a destination for trustworthy news and engaging views – it offers a positive set of values, and says something about its readers.”

He said this goes back to The Independent’s launch when it had the advertising slogan “It is, are you?” and that new research shows the brand’s readers are “more likely to act in a socially responsible way, to sign petitions, to vote in elections, to donate money, and to make sustainable consumer choices”.

The petitions platform, due to launch next year, will therefore empower readers by “inviting them to champion their own causes,” Broughton said.

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Registered users will be able to set up petitions, which will not be officially endorsed by The Independent but will be curated with oversight from journalists from the Independent Voices comment pages to ensure the site remains a trusted environment.

Broughton said the idea builds on The Independent’s history of campaigning journalism, including its opposition to the Iraq war, work on the Syrian refugee crisis, the End the Death Penalty campaign that launched last week, and its climate crisis reporting.

Earlier this year The Independent hired three new climate correspondents and launched a new climate section with a green version of its masthead to house more news, comment and lifestyle coverage on the subject.

It has now announced a commitment to include more climate-focused news, comment and lifestyle coverage alongside its target to reach net zero emissions by 2030.

In 2019 the Guardian announced its own pledge to go carbon neutral by 2030. The UK Government’s net-zero strategy aims to cut emissions to zero overall by 2050.

[Read more: How UK press moved from denial to acceptance and now action on climate change]

Independent chief executive Zach Leonard (pictured, right) said: “Net zero commitments are only meaningful if they are backed by action, and we are determined to be transparent in our approach, reporting back about our progress, our challenges, as well as our successes.

“Along the way, we are dedicated to ensuring we remain a trustworthy source of climate news and views, continue to inspire change, and take an inclusive, encouraging approach, respecting all views and choices.”

Commercially, The Independent is planning to partner with five brands to trial an “audience match” advertising initiative in which they will join a series of data “clean rooms”.

The newsbrand said this would mean “game-changing insights” will enable precision targeting of each brand’s consumers in a trusted privacy-first environment as UK publishers prepare for a world after Google kills third-party cookies.

The brand’s commercial offering is also being refreshed overall, with the creation of a new insight bank called Independent Intelligence.

The new Independent Advertising offering will cover all its ad services including those targeted for strategic growth, namely Independent TV, e-commerce, and the new content partnership division Ignite.

Chief digital revenue officer Andy Morley said the brand’s own audience research showed advertising on its site was more trusted than at any other quality newsbrand.

“We also know that we attract readers who are leading the way in being politically and socially active, and who are engaged and ready to act,” he said.

“This means that when brands advertise with us, they campaign with us. With our new and refreshed commercial offering we provide our partners with the ability to engage with this active audience in a brand-safe environment, supported by our best-in-class insight and data offering, Independent Intelligence.”

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