The Times has said it wants to 'stop the duplication of production between print, iPad, website and, most recently, Android'
Times editor James Harding has signalled a shift towards integrated production at the newspaper, stating the need for staff to be able to work across the print, web, iPad, and Android editions.
As the Times' publisher News International announced up to 150 planned job cuts across the Times and Sunday Times, including 20 compulsory full-time redundancies, Harding told staff that the newspaper wanted to "change the way we work and our production processes".
"When we moved to the new presses at Broxbourne three years ago, our print deadlines changed to 10.15pm and everybody’s day just got longer.
"We want to change the way we work and our production processes, so that we can deal with the creep of the newspaper day. We want to stop the duplication of production, between print, iPad, website and, most recently, Android. We want to give our production teams the skills to work on all platforms."
A letter to staff at the Sunday Times from editor John Witherow, published by the Guardian, outlined similar plans at the Sunday edition. Witherow said five new "key departments" would be created under a new production structure.
"Each of these desks will provide a structure to support the different requirements for all the sections across the paper, website and iPad. The digital teams, which until now have been working separately, will be integrated and will work closely with print colleagues as we continue to build our digital ambitions for the Sunday Times."
Staff at the Times and Sunday Times were told yesterday that up to 150 employees would be cut from the papers' editorial workforce, mostly from casual staff, with 20 compulsory redundancies planned at the Sunday Times and voluntary redundancies sought.
The need to make 12 per cent budget cuts at the Times and 15 per cent cuts at the Sunday Times were blamed on a 25 per cent hike in the cost of newsprint due to demand in India and China, as well as generally tough economic conditions.
Harding said yesterday that the Times had returned to circulation growth for the first time in nearly a decade, including digital subscriptions, but warned that News International was "still a business in transition".
"We are only just beginning to migrate advertising on to the iPad and only just beginning to see what is possible on other platforms. We still have a long way to go to secure our future by putting our paper in profit."
The Times and Sunday Times recorded a pre-tax profit loss of £45 million in 2010, down from nearly twice that in 2009, when it lost £87.7 million.
In September this year, 110 jobs were cut from across the Times, Sunday Times and tabloid stablemate the Sun.
Letters were also sent to staff at the Sunday Times from editor John Witherow and managing editor Anoushka Healy. Healy told staff that those at risk of compulsory redundancy would be seen within the week
Full text: Harding's statement to staff at the Times
Earlier today I announced significant cuts to our budget and a large number of proposed redundancies and reductions in casual shifts.
I will not labour the explanation. The economy is stalling. Even if we miss a double dip recession, Britain will be lucky to register growth of 1 per cent. The outlook over the next 12 months is, at best, uncertain.
The costs of producing a newspaper have been sorely hit, not only by the soaring energy prices affecting everybody but the huge surge in the cost of newsprint: as Chinese and Indian newspaper consumption has mushroomed, demand for newsprint has surged and the cost of paper is up by 25 per cent.
It is true that we have returned the Times to circulation growth for the first time in nearly a decade – we have signed up more than 110,000 people who buy the digital editions of the Times every day and, as a result, the number of people buying the Times in print and on screen is up 3 per cent year-on-year. But we are still a business in transition: we are only just beginning to migrate advertising on to the iPad and only just beginning to see what is possible on other platforms. We still have a long way to go to secure our future by putting our paper in profit.
This means that we have to cut costs. This is true across News International: the commercial divisions have already made savings, the other papers are doing so too. And we have to do the same. This means that respected colleagues and good friends will be leaving the paper.
We are required to reduce our editorial budget by nearly 15 per cent. There are about 700 people who, in one form or another, have a working relationship with The Times. Some are on staff, some are casuals and some are on retainers. At the end of this process, I expect that up to 100 of those people – retainers, casuals and staff – will no longer be working for the Times.
We, as a paper, have been through several rounds of cost-cutting in recent years. On previous occasions, the vast bulk of the redundancies have been borne by people on the staff of the paper. Colleagues who work as casuals – whether they work pretty much every day of the week or only now and then – have largely been spared. This time, I am afraid that the largest share of cost savings will come from reducing the number of casuals across the paper. There will be some redundancies on the staff and some people will lose their retainers, but it is likely that we will see a 30 per cent reduction in the overall number of casual shifts. I cannot be more precise, because we are going to offer a two-week window for people to leave on a voluntary basis.
Anyone – either staff or casuals – who wants to be considered, should contact Anoushka Healy, the managing editor, over the next fortnight. The approach will be treated in confidence.
In making these cost savings, I hope that we can – in fact, we will have to – address some of the issues that have arisen in recent years around the way we work.
When we moved to the new presses at Broxbourne three years ago, our print deadlines changed to 10.15 and everybody’s day just got longer. We want to change the way we work and our production processes, so that we can deal with the creep of the newspaper day. We want to stop the duplication of production, between print, iPad, website and, most recently, Android. We want to give our production teams the skills to work on all platforms.
You will shortly receive an e-mail from Anoushka that outlines the voluntary process that starts today, the redundancy terms being offered and the discussions that the paper has undertaken with NISA.
We have produced some of the best papers and most innovative journalism in what has been an extraordinary year for news. We have weathered what has been a difficult period for this company with integrity, commitment and great character. I can only say that I hope the changes we embark on today will see us through these extremely difficult times for our industry and the economy, and ensure that we secure the long-term future of this great paper.
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