A newspaper boss branded an ‘axeman” by the National Union of Journalists has issued a robust response to a protest letter over job cuts.
As reported on HTFP this morning, the NUJ chapel at the Leicester Mercury wrote an open letter to the newspaper’s publisher David Simms over plans to cut 11 editorial roles.
It accused him of adopting a “cavalier attitude” towards editorial jobs and endangering the future of the business.
However Mr Simms has now issued a point-by-point response to the union’s claims, pointing out that other departments have had to undergo bigger staff reductions than editorial.
He wrote: “Editorial costs represent the highest percentage of our total cost base and this proportion has grown over time as other costs have been managed downwards to a much greater extent.
“Since 2007/08 people and people related costs across all other departments have reduced by c30pc compared with the 24pc reduction in editorial.”
Mr Simms said there were no further changes planned at present but could not rule out more job losses in future.
It is understood that some of the current planned reduction in editorial headcount will be met through voluntary redundancy. However managers are not yet in a position to guarantee no compulsory job cuts.
The union’s open letter was reproduced in full on HTFP earlier today and can be read here.
Here is Mr Simms response in full.
DAVID SIMMS’ RESPONSE TO THE NUJ
- The editorial plans are 100% owned by the Leicester Mercury. Put forward by Richard Bettsworth and endorsed by me. These plans are necessary given the continued decline in both advertising revenue and circulation volume. Revenues in the past 5 years have declined by 45% with circulation volume down 30%
- Editorial are not solely bearing the brunt of change. It is however, inappropriate to outline to you plans/changes affecting other people/departments. In the past 12 months other departments have been affected by change/staff reductions with editorial over that period least affected.
- Editorial costs represent the highest percentage of our total cost base and this proportion has grown over time as other costs have been managed downwards to a much greater extent. Since 2007/08 people and people related costs across all other departments have reduced by c30% compared with the 24% reduction in editorial.
- No one can guarantee what the future looks like – with both cyclical and structural change happening in the market future job losses cannot be ruled out. However, other than the plans you know about we have no further/immediate planned changes.
- We anticipate the current run rate on ad revenues continuing over the next 24 months. We are however doing our utmost to address the decline. The launch of the Business Magazine is one of the changes made which is showing growth.
- Changes planned in editorial are designed to protect both content and quality securing the long term viability of the paper.
- The economic environment continues to be very difficult. It is unlikely that this will change in the near term. Our priorities are to continue with the change programme designed to make us more efficient and agile, while at the same time investing in those key areas of growth so important to our future. To carry on as we are is simply not an option.