'Website must come second' says Independent's Kelner

Independent editor Simon Kelner has spoken out against the practice, pioneered by The Guardian, of newspapers publishing stories first on the web, and also called for an end to DVD giveaways.

Speaking to an audience of senior media industry figures at a Press Gazette Breakfast With The Editor event on Wednesday, Kelner also said the economics of newspapers were "fundamentally flawed" and that he didn't see the advertising market improving.

Kelner said: "If you have an exclusive story at five o'clock to go in the following day's newspaper, the idea that you would put it on the website for nothing strikes me as complete madness.

"Our relationship with our own website is one where the paper is first and foremost, and the website comes second.Until there is a model for making money out of a newspaper website, we're not going to plough millions of pounds into it."

He added: "It's fair enough for The Guardian, because they don't have shareholders to answer to."

Kelner said: "There is absolutely no model for a newspaper website to make money, and conversely what it can do is hit the value and currency of the printed product. At the moment, if we have funds to invest, we would prioritise our newspaper. I am willing to be called a flat earther, but for an organisation such as ours, I think it is the right approach."

Regarding newspaper pricing, Kelner said: "It used to be said that a newspaper should be the price of a cup of coffee. Today The Independent is 70p and a cup of coffee is £3.

"I think daily papers should be £1, weekend papers should be at least £2. Now you can get a weekend paper that costs £1.70 and, with it, you get a DVD worth a tenner.

"The economics are fundamentally flawed, and we have to reverse that trend, because the obsession with DVDs and CDs for short-term circulation gain is a form of crack-cocaine.

"Newspapers have to wean themselves off this addiction. It's going to be a painful process, but I think we have to do it."

Discussing the advertising market, Kelner said that he didn't see it getting much better.

"Some years it'll be slightly better, some years it'll be slightly worse, but we'll never get to the boom time again.

We need to change the accent from the revenue we get from advertising to the revenue we get from circulation."

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