Russian billionaire and mogul Alexander Lebedev has been busy mapping the future of The Independent since buying the paper — and The Independent on Sunday — in March for a whopping total of $1.49 (Lebedev was already the owner of the London Evening Standard.)
Now Lebedev, on the heels of a much-publicized exchange of words with News Corp’s James Murdoch (although Lebedev is choosing to remain relatively mum on which words, exactly, were exchanged, sharing only that “There were definitely some words. But I won’t say which ones.”), is weighing whether strategic alliances would help his struggling papers. The billionaire does maintain, however, that he favors a hands-off approach to his papers, allowing editors to make major decisions for themselves.
While he is also remaining fairly quiet on his exact plans for his newly acquired papers and on how much money such plans may require, he has said that there is a definite business plan and a financial model, as well as the possibility of alliances. As for the paper’s longtime rival, the Guardian, Lebedev says, “I’m a big admirer of the Guardian. Who knows, maybe we’ll merge someday? The world is changing very quickly.”
More definite, though, is Lebedev’s idea to establish an international network that works collaboratively on investigations through the efforts journalists from newspapers and magazines around the world. Lebedev sees this network focusing on “global corruption, the oil industry, and the abuse of offshore trusts.” Possible publications that would be involved in this network include Der Spiegel, the New York Times and the Guardian and Lebedev’s own British and Russian publications.
As for whether he will make The Independent free, Lebedev answered with a cryptic “Never say never. The world is changing. Questions are more plentiful than the answers.”