London’s sole evening newspaper, the Evening Standard, is to axe 20 jobs after announcing that it will produce just a single West End Final edition each weekday.
It means the Standard – which became a free paper just last month – will no longer be available from late morning, and probably that it will no longer be distributed outside central London at all, despite the publishers’ aims at distributing 3 million copies each week.
The paper was re-launched in May under new Editor Geordie Greig, after being bought for Â£1 from the Daily Mail group by Russian billionaire tycoon Alexander Lebedev. Earlier this month rival freesheet London Lite closed, leaving the Standard with a monopoly among London evening newspapers that it had not enjoyed for almost a decade.
But staff at the Standard are livid. One anonymous website poster said: “This paper is a complete disaster and has been since the new regime took over.
“We have a newsdesk with no experience, no commonsense and no backbone, an Editor who seems to think that anything and everything that slams its way into us is ‘positive’ and a staff with no morale and no respect for management.
“And now we have been told they are making 20 new redundancies. A skeleton staff is not going to help maintain a ‘high quality’ freesheet is it?”
In the modern, multi-media world of 24/7 news channels and internet, the Standard appears to be abandoning its traditional role of delivering the latest news to the streets. In its heyday in the 1950s and ’60s, the Standard would print up to seven editions each day, from the morning “Racing Edition” through until the presses stopped rolling around 5pm.
According to a report in the Press Gazette, the move – due to start in January – means the single-edition Standard will go off-stone at 12.30pm and could be on newsstands by around 2pm. Greig said that there will be considerable editorial changes made to the paper throughout the print run – “slip” editions – meaning that there will effectively be a second edition later in the day, although all copies will carry the words West End Final.
According to Greig, the decision is a sign that Standard executives are confident the free daily is popular enough to be distributed in the shorter time window.
Distribution growth has been “exponential” since going free, he said. “This decision will mean our news is even more up to date, and more copies will be available for home-going commuters,” Greig told PG. “We are delighted to continue to be a pioneering newspaper and happy to be able to give all our readers an even better quality newspaper.”
The 20 jobs will go from across editorial and production, although no details are yet available. Greig, who joined the Standard from society magazine Tatler, noted that by abandoning the early edition of the paper, which normally went to press around 9am, remaining staff would no longer have to start work in the early hours of the morning.
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