Irish Times to cut 40 jobs and close overseas offices
LONDON - Irish daily newspaper The Irish Times is to lose 40 editorial positions as plans to safeguard its future came undone when only 180 staff took advantage of a voluntary redundancy scheme.
Last November, the paper announced it was facing losses of €17.9m (£11.1m) in 2002 unless costs were reduced. Staff agreed to a restructuring plan, which was to result in 250 jobs being shed across the company. So far, only 180 staff have either left or applied for voluntary redundancy, with 110 of those coming from the editorial side.
The newspaper, which is produced Monday to Saturday, is now cutting back on staffing levels and overseas offices in order to return to profitability.
Planned cuts include withdrawing the newspaper's five regional correspondents in Ireland by the end of August, closing its Beijing office and reducing the number of full-time correspondents in the US to one. Staffing levels at its offices in Belfast and London would also be cut under the plan. Its operations in Paris and Berlin are being reviewed, but the bureau in Brussels will remain open.
Up to 40 editorial posts now will be cut under new proposals presented to staff yesterday by Irish Times editor Conor Brady.
Brady said: "We are at a difficult point in the restructuring programme. There will be a further week for consultation on what is now proposed. After that, the Irish Times will move to a phase in which it will be produced by fewer journalists and others."
Staff at the newspaper are reported to be shocked at the new plans, however, it is commonly acknowledged that the newspaper is heavily overstaffed. "A lot of it is just common sense and should have happened a long time ago. A lot of it pares back on duplication," one NUJ activist told the Irish Independent.
The paper is also cutting down from two printed editions to just one. Its cost-cutting moves will be boosted by next month's start-up of its €76m Citywest printing press, which will result in better print quality and improved distribution.
While the Irish Times is the country's most prestigious title, it lags behind the Irish Independent in sales, recording an ABC in July-December 2001 of 120,397 compared with the Independent's 170,075.
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