Staff Cuts Ahead for The Times, The Sunday Times

Times are scary for staffers at News Corp.’s The Times and The Sunday Times U.K. newspapers, as the editorial budgets of each publication will be slashed by 10 percent just weeks prior to the implementation of a pay wall, with guardian.co.uk estimating that 80 jobs will be lost, paidContent:UK reports.

News Corp.’s British arm, News International, announced in March that the pay wall would launch in June, saying that access to the two sites will be free for a trial period for registered subscribers, and then cost £1 ($1.49) per day or £2 ($2.98) per week, with the weekly subscription including access to the electronic newspaper, as well as other applications. Seven-day print subscribers to The Times and The Sunday Times will receive free access to the Web sites.

The full staff memo from The Times editor James Harding, from guardian.co.uk, follows after the jump.

Dear Colleagues,

As you may be aware, we met today with colleagues at Times House to discuss the steps we are taking in the coming weeks to put The Times‘ budget on a sustainable footing.

Times Newspapers Ltd. is losing a significant amount of money. Today, we are starting a process to cut costs, reduce our losses, and free up resources for the future of our journalism. We are looking to reduce our editorial budget by approximately 10 percent.

This is a time to be enormously proud of the journalism of The Times. We have produced papers over the course of this election that have been rigorously reported, ingeniously illustrated, and powerfully presented. Our coverage of the contest has been fair and forceful. And we have shown online that we are changing rapidly as a news organization. We are harnessing the imagination and innovation of the people who have joined Times Online, building on the skills and expertise of The Times newsroom, and we are developing digital journalism that brims with authority and mischief, judgment and flair.

However, we need to take these steps to reduce our budget now, for the following reasons: First, our losses are unsustainable. We cannot ensure the long-term future of this paper and our futures in journalism if we cannot make a viable business out of The Times.

Second, we are clearly in a period of galloping technological change, and we need to ensure that we have the resources to invest so that we can lead the market in digital journalism.

Starting today, we will begin a voluntary redundancy process, which will be open for applications during the next two weeks, up to and including Thursday, May 27. In addition to the numbers that come forward, we may have to consider compulsory redundancies. Until we know the exact number of people who will be leaving voluntarily, we will not know what the number of compulsory redundancies might be. While a voluntary redundancy program will slightly extend the period of uncertainty, I hope that in these difficult times it will create some opportunities for people who choose to leave our business.

I will come back to you to let you know the outcome of the first stage of this process. We will be talking to all departments about other forms of cost savings.

You will shortly be receiving an email from Anoushka Healy, managing editor. This email will detail the next steps for those interested in the voluntary redundancy program.

We will all be sorry to see respected colleagues and good friends leaving the paper. I hope that the changes we are announcing today can ensure that The Times moves to a sustainable commercial footing and that we can thereby secure the long-term future of the paper and our journalism.


david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.
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