Independent News & Media (INM) has announced further cuts to its editorial staff, with up to 30 people set to leave as part of the group’s ongoing implementation of a broader digital strategy and a more collective working environment across its main newspaper titles, which include the Irish Independent and the Sunday Independent.
Management met with staff yesterday to inform them of plans for a “shared newsroom” concept that will allow for copy to be co-ordinated centrally and distributed across different titles and platforms, in essence meaning more of the group’s journalists will be reporting across more of its titles.
The move will see a maximum of 30 redundancies, bringing the total INM news staff down to around 200. Management did not say how much the move might save the group in costs, nor what kind of redundancy package is on the table, only that they will begin engaging with staff regarding the voluntary redundancy package on offer, and headcount reduction needs for individual sections, on Monday. The redundancies will affect all aspects of the editorial, taking in journalistic and production roles.
INM chief exeuctive Robert Pitt said the move was not about cost savings but more about changing how the group’s content is formed, and positioning the business to be able to benefit from future opportunities as well as taking heed of future risks in the market.
Last summer, INM chairman Leslie Buckley said the group was targeting cost savings of around €20m in 2014/15, with headcount reduction, optimisation of print titles, growth in digital revenues, and monetisation of online content part of an overall growth strategy. Management said yesterday that it still has no immediate plans for an online pay-wall and was not considering leveraging staff/content from Communicorp, the media group controlled by majority shareholder Denis O’Brien.
The group cut 20 jobs in 2013, followed by around 60 last year (which took into account the merging of the Evening Herald and Sunday World newrooms). It is believed that further redundancies could be announced next year as INM further shapes its new working practice model.
The move will see the creation of a co-ordinated sports ‘hub’ aimed at being the largest single team reporting on sports in the country. It will follow the shared title model INM currently has for its business and political desks. The moves announced yesterday are set to be implemented by late June/early July.
INM editor-in-chief Stephen Rae said that the group’s ‘digital-first’ strategy will make the overall business “fit for purpose” in a rapidly changing media market.
“We are a content company,” said Mr Rae. “That is our special asset, but we are also becoming a technology company and restructuring the workflow around these two key elements will make us fit to deal with the challenges we face, to best serve our audiences, our people and our shareholders.
“We have developed a roadmap that is both realistic and exciting for INM,” Mr Pitt added. “The changes we are introducing will position INM as the clear leader in innovation when it comes to the delivery of news.”
The new work changes will be implemented at INM’s Talbot St offices in Dublin, with management claiming not to have any current plans to move premises.
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