The Independent this week announced the appointment of Christian Broughton, formerly the newspaper’s managing director, as its new chief executive. Meanwhile Zach Leonard, the previous CEO, will become the company’s global chief operating officer and president in the US.
Broughton joined The Independent in 2005, becoming editor in 2016, overseeing the transition from legacy media to being a fully online news brand.
As managing director, he helped deliver Independent TV, which has launched across multiple CTV (connected television) platforms, while also growing the company’s nascent ecommerce business. Various industry sources say he has proven to himself to be a strong commercial operator.
His history of opening up new revenue streams for the company seems to be a key factor in Broughton’s appointment. John Paton, chairman of The Independent’s parent company Independent Digital News Media, said that Broughton is “uniquely qualified to step up as chief executive as we continue to embark on the next phase of our global growth strategy, focusing on global expansion and developing diversified revenue streams”.
Searching for growth in America
Zach Leonard meanwhile will be responsible for audience and revenue growth in the North American media market, having previously overseen the expansion to seven different editions of The Independent globally.
The brand is already well-established in the region, with ComScore reporting more than 24 million monthly unique visitors to the site. But The Independent sees opportunities for further growth. “I look forward to developing The Independent brand, business, audience and influence in North America, at a time where Independent values – particularly trust and objectivity – are desperately needed,” said Leonard. “Our unique digital transformation and growth strategies are starting to take hold in the region, and will flourish with more dedicated senior leadership on the ground.”
The Independent is far from the only British newspaper seeking out growth across the Atlantic. The Sun, Future, and Reach are all similarly trying to build up audiences and commercial operations in America, at a time when growth opportunities for news media companies are hard to come by.