The Evening Standard newspaper has announced plans to make job cuts in both editorial and commercial departments as part of a major restructure that will shift the company’s focus to its digital and mobile platforms.
But the printed edition of the newspaper will be retained under the strategy, which was set out to staff this morning by the company’s new chief executive, Charles Yardley, as he informed them that 115 jobs are likely to be lost – including 69 out of 167 editorial positions.
Mr Yardley told The Independent that the move was part of a long-term plan rather than solely a response to the coronavirus downturn, which has hit many publishers’ revenues hard.
Download the new Independent Premium app
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
He said: “This comes at a challenging time for the industry, which has been accentuated by the pandemic. However, there remains a huge opportunity for the company, moving from London’s leading newspaper to London’s leading media platform, delivering the best content and services to our readers and our customers.”
The publisher’s chairman, John Paton, said: “The Evening Standard has served London for nearly two centuries and is accustomed to evolving with our great city and Londoners. This is the next phase of the company’s evolution and as we develop new channels and services, the focus will remain on delivering quality journalism, informing and engaging our readers and with our digital offerings bringing the best of London to the world.”
The pandemic has posed a particular challenge for the Standard, which relies heavily on footfall through the capital’s public transport network for the distribution of its newspaper, which was founded in 1827. Nonetheless, the title says it has printed 500,000 copies a day, Monday to Friday, through that period.
Live events and online shopping services are understood to be among the “new products and experiences” planned by Mr Yardley, who joined the company from the international magazine and digital publisher Forbes Media in June, along with the Standard’s new editor, and former Vogue deputy editor, Emily Sheffield.
The existing website – which currently has 27 million unique users globally – will also be given an overhaul.
The Evening Standard made a pre-tax loss of £13.6 million in 2019. Its owner, Evgeny Lebedev, is also a major shareholder in The Independent, which underwent a transition from a loss-making print title to a leading quality digital news publisher in the US and UK markets following the closure of its print operations in 2016, with its latest accounts showing profits of £3m – higher than those at The Telegraph. But Mr Lebedev has committed to the print edition of the Standard at the core of its new business model.
The Standard is not the first news publisher to announce job losses in recent weeks. Just last month The Guardian said it would be cutting 180 roles, while Reach – which owns the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Daily Star newspapers, alongside a stable of major regional titles – said it would be reducing head count by 550. News UK, the publisher of The Sun and The Times has also warned of impending staff cuts.