Evening Standard set to close midday edition

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The Independent Online

The London Evening Standard, which went free last month in an attempt to lift revenues, has axed its early edition with about 20 jobs set to go.

The 182-year old newspaper is to cease printing its "News Extra" edition, published at midday, and will print all 600,000 copies as the later "West End Final" from 4 January. The move is understood to have been accelerated by the closure of rivals thelondonpaper and London Lite.

The final edition will be handed out from 2pm. Previously about half the copies hit the streets at midday after going to press at 9am. Journalist shifts would start as early as 4am. They will now move to 8am. The shift means that "certain fewer people would be needed in production and editorial", according to a spokeswoman, who said the consultation process was ongoing

The group admitted the move was "dramatic" but said it was driven by the title's "pledge for quality journalism". Its editor Geordie Greig said: "This decision will mean our news is even more up to date, and more copies will be available for home-going commuters."

Newspapers have been forced to consider new strategies to lift revenues in the face of the worst ad crisis in living memory. The Standard decided to drop its cover charge in October, and more than double its circulation in the hope advertising revenues would soar.

Andrew Mullins, the managing director of the Standard, said: "Some people doubted that we would continue to publish such a high quality newspaper when we went free, but they were wrong. Readers and advertisers have been magnificent in supporting us and we are sure they will welcome this decision to enhance the quality of our newspaper even further."