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Final print edition of the Independent after 30 years but ‘our mission endures’ – as does i and the website

By PA Mediapoint

The final print edition of The Independent has been sent to press as the title moves to a digital-only format.

A special front-page says simply "STOP PRESS".

Inside the paper runs a normal front page featuring an exclusive story about a British connection in a plot to kill a Saudi King and a striking image of train passengers being evacuated during an anti-terrorism operation in Brussels.

Inside the paper, which was founded in 1986 under the slogan "It is. Are you?", four special edition magazines look back at its history.

Journalists for the daily paper posted photos of their final hours working on the print edition and showed editor Amol Rajan giving a speech to a crowded newsroom after it was sent to press for the last time.

Owners Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev announced last month that The Independent and The Independent on Sunday would drop their print versions.

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Earlier Rajan tweeted a preview of two readers' letters which feature in the last edition.

One, signed by Guy and Caroline Carmichael, from London, told how the pair met and fell in love through the newspaper.

It reads: "While you may disappear in paper form, one edition will live for ever in our hearts: 20 November 1993.

"We found each other through your original Independent Hearts column, and were married in 1995. Thank you."

The second, from J Samuel, from Reading said: "It is difficult to understand how The Independent, which took such a principled stand against Britain's illegal invasion of Iraq, will be out of print before the inquiry into that invasion goes into print."

The final edition of the paper also features an investigation on vulnerable children who slip through the net when their families are re-housed and an interview with Alastair Campbell by former Independent editor Simon Kelner.

In the i, the Independent's sister paper, notable readers and former staff share their memories of the newspaper.

Andrew Marr, who started on the paper as part of the political team and later became its editor, recalled "breaking every rule of Westminster life" and said the paper had seen "some of the best journalistic writing in Britain in the 20th century".

Noted foreign correspondent Patrick Cockburn, former journalist and Bridget Jones's Diary author Helen Fielding and the paper's former literary editor and Birdsong author Sebastian Faulks all also comment on their time on the newspaper.

The Independent was launched by a group of journalists led by Andreas Whittam Smith in 1986. It enjoyed initial success rising to a circulation passing 400,000 by 1988, and claimed it was free from proprietorial influence.

The Independent On Sunday launched in 1990, with Stephen Glover as editor. The final Sunday edition was published last week.

They are part of the group owned by the Lebedev family, who have other media assets including the Evening Standard and local TV station London Live.

Current paid circulation at the daily title is just over 40,000 while its Sunday sister sells just under 43,000 copies.

The i, bought by Johnston Press for around £24 million in February, has a circulation of 275,000 and reported profits of £5.2 million last year.

The newspaper's final editorial said "history will judge" its "bold transition" to online media as "an example for other newspapers around the world to follow".

It concludes: "Today the presses have stopped, the ink is dry and the paper will soon crinkle no more. But as one chapter closes, another opens, and the spirit of The Independent will flourish still.

"Our work goes on, our mission endures, the war still rages, and the dream of our founders shall never die."

In a letter published in the final edition, Lebedev defended The Independent's move online, saying journalism had "changed beyond recognition" and the newspaper "must change too".

And he extended his thanks to the paper's "most important allies" – its readers.

He said: "I know that today will be the last time you hear this newspaper crash through your letterbox; the last time you swap a smile and a few coins with the man in the corner shop and walk out with our daily bread under your arm.

"Some of you might have done that nearly 10,000 times, since 1986. The depth of our gratitude is impossible to express."

Around 100 out of 160 journalists working on The Independent print editions are expected to lose their jobs. The rest are eithering transferring to the website, which will have staff of around 75, or to i.

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