NORMAN GILLER on the latest sad news of more editorial job losses
No sooner than we were reporting here on our SJA website that the Telegraph Group were making four sports department signings than I was getting gloom and doom calls from old Torygraph chums.
“We’re sitting here waiting for our notices,” I was told.
“The new signings are cosmetic. There is going to be bloodshed.”
Sure enough, within 24 hours of this call, all staff members received notification from Telegraph Media Group chief content officer Jason Seiken that there were plans to reduce the overall number of editorial positions.
For sub-editors and amateur pedants out there, for once, the use of the word “decimated” is accurate, since 55 jobs, or 1 in 10 of the existing staff, are set to go as part of what Seiken described as an “ongoing editorial transformation”.
Seiken wrote, “We must continue to meet the demands of resourcing our digital-first newsroom whilst also responding to the ongoing challenges within our industry.”
Staff were also told that those affected would be told in the next few days.
PressGazette.co.uk has reported that casualties of the exercise are thought to include the Mandrake diary and its editor Tim Walker.
Around a dozen editorial redundancies, of mainly senior staff, were made at the Telegraph earlier this year.They included veteran racing correspondent Jim McGrath, “Hotspur”, plus chief sports reporter Ian Chadband and athletics correspondent Simon Hart among six sports desk cuts.
This followed 80 editorial redundancies in 2013 and 30 editorial redundancies in 2012 with the merger of the Sunday and daily teams.
There were more than 60 editorial redundancies in 2008, which followed 150 journalist jobs being axed two years before that at the time of the papers’ move from Canary Wharf to Victoria. The year before, 2005, there were 90 editorial redundancies.
That all adds up to more than 400 jobs cut in nine years. Each set of cuts has tended to see a round of mainly digital-based staff recruited.
The latest round of cuts at the Telegraph comes on top of the 200 job cuts coming at the Express group, which makes for a grim Christmas for many in our battered profession.
It’s a fact that there are 25 per cent fewer sportswriters and subs on the nationals filling 25 per cent more space than their predecessors of just a decade ago.
Seiken’s full letter to Telegraph staff said: “I am writing to update you on changes we are making as part of the ongoing editorial transformation.
“As I outlined in a letter to staff earlier this month, we must continue to meet the demands of resourcing our digital-first newsroom whilst also responding to the ongoing challenges within our industry. As a result, there will inevitably be an impact on staff numbers in several editorial areas.
“As we reduce the overall number of editorial positions we will start the normal information and consultation process. Those who are likely to be most affected will receive further correspondence in the next few days. This will outline the next steps.
“I realise this is a time of great uncertainty for you all. I do not want that to continue for any longer than is necessary, but I want the process we follow to be fair and allow time for sufficient consultation. I hope we can complete this initial assessment in just over a week.
“We continue to work as hard as we can to develop new revenue streams as we move TMG editorial to a digital-dominant operation. Even at the end of this process, we will have more editorial resource than many of our competitors and we will carry on creating and filling digital posts.
“I am extremely grateful to all colleagues for your understanding as we continue to work towards the transformation that is so essential to our future.”
This comes just a few days after we learned that Daniel Schofield is joining the Telegraph from The Times as rugby reporter and that Tom Peacock, the Press Association’s racing correspondent, is coming in as horse racing reporter.
TMG’s sports department is also expanding its digital team with the appointment of Tom Edwards to social media editor, who will join from The Sun, and Charlie Eccleshare, who joins as digital producer, having worked previously at Mail Online.
“We are delighted to announce these new appointments as we bolster our editorial talent across all platforms within sport,” said Adam Sills, the Telegraph’s head of sport.
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