Editorial staff at four News International titles in Wapping were told today the news that they had feared, with 65 compulsory redundancies, while casual production posts are also being cut. Individual departments, including the sports desks, will determine by the end of the week how to handle the job cuts, with 20 posts to go at the profit-making Sunday Times and 15 jobs each to be cut from The Sun, News of the World and The Times.
The cuts come after a prolonged study by the Boston Consulting Group. The announcement followed Monday’s move across all four titles for a 10 per cent cut to freelance contributors’ payments. Freesheet The London Paper is unaffected by the cuts.
Staff were briefed this morning, following an email from James Murdoch, the News Corporation chairman and chief executive Europe and Asia who oversees NI.
“We have identified areas where we can improve efficiency and speed up the production of our titles and websites. This will allow us to strengthen editorial by reinvesting savings into our title,” Murdoch said.
John Witherow, the Sunday Times editor, told his staff, “Our aim must be to produce the Sunday Times as efficiently as possible and make it an even better newspaper able to compete against our rivals. Our dedication to top-class journalism will be strengthened after this difficult period, and that has to be good for the long-term future of the paper.”
In addition to the job cuts, around 20 casual shifts, working each night loading newspaper content from The Times and Sunday Times to the newspapers’ joint website, will also be cut, meaning that the newspapers’ production desks will in future be responsible for posting their own content on to Times Online.
The Times editor, James Harding, also revealed that the two existing separate print and online picture desks and design teams will be brought together into a single team. Cuts in the number of casual subs used by the newspaper – already subject to reduction in payment rates – will also be reduced.
“At a time when other newspapers are cutting back, we are making changes to invest in our growth,” Harding wrote in a memo to his staff.
At The Sun, news and features subbing will merge into one department and sports subs on the paper will be taught web production. All departments on the paper will fully integrate with online and page design and creation will also be overhauled.
“Every penny saved from these efficiencies will be put back into the paper and website. Our editorial budget is not being cut,” editor, Rebekah Wade, wrote staff in a memo.
Boston Consulting Group’s recommendations have already seen 100 ad sales staff leave the company in a merger of departments.
A similar exercise at Mirror Group Newspapers is expected to see job cuts announced before the end of this month.
â–¡ Daily Mail & General Trust – owners of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and, until last month, the London Evening Standard, saw advertising revenue in January fall by 23 per cent at its national newspaper division and by 40 per cent across its regional titles, blaming the bad weather for its poor start to the year.
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