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Independent's plan to restructure comment desks puts 13 jobs at risk

Posted by Josh Halliday, Thursday 7 February

Thirteen jobs are at risk at the Independent as part of plans to merge the comment and Indy Voices desks, the National Union of Journalists has said. Barry Fitzpatrick, the NUJ deputy general secretary, said he was “deeply concerned" at the cost-cutting measures, outlined in an email to staff on Thursday. The Independent's NUJ chapel said last week it would ballot for industrial action if compulsory redundancies were made.

Plans to merge the two desks include the appointment of a new editor for both by the end of this week, according to the NUJ email. Katherine Butler is the Independent's comment editor; Amol Rajan is editor of Indy Voices, which was launched last year to compete with online rivals including's Comment is Free and Mail Online's RightMinds sites.

“The NUJ are deeply concerned about the lack of information and consultation involved in the changes to jobs at he Independent newspaper," said Fitzpatrick.

“It is simply not fair to treat a workforce in this way. It is very difficult for people to make decisions about their future career when they have not been given the chance to see any of the details."

It is not known how many journalists will work on the new merged desk, according to the NUJ email to staff.

The online comment initiative has helped grow traffic to the Independent website by more than a third since January 2012, to 970,899 daily browsers, according to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations figures released last month.

The Independent had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

DATELINE: 7 February, 2013


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Meanwhile, journalists on the Guardian and Observer have voted overwhelmingly for strike action over compulsory redundancies.

More than 80 per cent (81.6%) voted for strike action over the redundancies and to defend existing terms and conditions at the two titles.

Guardian News & Media said it needed to cut 100 editorial posts as part of a plan to make 7million savings to the annual budget. The NUJ, in negotiation with the management, has so far halved that target through agreed voluntary redundancies. The union has also asked for those identified as under threat to be put on a redeployment register.

Posted by: Barry White: 8 Feb, 2013 14:50:17

The main problem at The Grauniad and The Obs is that its highly-paid Editor-in-Chief is obsessed with digital first strategy, despite all the overwhelming evidence that this simply will not make any real money. The media is spending 80% of its R&D budget for at most a 5% increase in revenue.

Where Editors have stopped major stories going straight to digital, they sell substantially more copies. For example, a couple of years ago the Birmingham Evening Mail's then Editor, Steve Dyson, stopped a national exclusive on Aston Villa going onto the web for two days & sold an extra 20K copies that nite (that makes another 7K).

This insanity won't stop unless our members are prepared to oust Rubbisher.. He (and his precessor Peter Preston) weren't the best candidates. If they don't, there will be further major rounds of redundancies next year and the year after. The Scott Trust only has enough cash flow for another three or four years.

Yours fraternally,

Bro Chris Youett,

Business & IT hack

Posted by: Chris Youett via Barry White: 8 Feb, 2013 16:01:25

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