Blackhurst defends Indy price rise as journalists prepare to vote on strike action over job losses - Press Gazette

Blackhurst defends Indy price rise as journalists prepare to vote on strike action over job losses

Chris Blackhurst has defended The Independent’s decision to raise its cover price in the same week that the paper announced a fresh wave of redundancies.

The group’s content director said the fact that the 20p price rise came in the wake of the news that there would be 27 compulsory job losses across the Independent titles was “not unrelated”.

Blackhurst told Press Gazette: “We have to save money and we have to raise revenue as well.”

The weekday cover price of The Independent will go up from £1.20 to £1.40 from Monday, with the Saturday edition up from £1.60 to £1.80 and the Independent on Sunday up from £2 to £2.20.

A seven-day subscription will also be available for £5.

“We’ve been thinking about it for a while,” said Blackhurst. “It’s the same price as the Guardian and it’s in relation to rising costs.”

Blackhurst said that the group was on course to lose £11.8 million this year when its financial reporting year ends in October, an improvement on the £16.6 million it lost in 2011/12.

On Tuesday, reporters at The Independent learned that there would be 27 compulsory editorial redundancies. The news came four months after it was thought that an agreement had been reached alleviating the threat of compulsory job losses when the integration of the Independent’s daily and Sunday titles saw 15 voluntary redundancies.

Staff at the papers are to hold a strike ballot over the cuts after the National Union of Journalists expressed dismay at the decision, which it claimed was taken without consultation.

Blackhurst said he was “not surprised by the NUJ’s response” but added that he would be “extremely disappointed if [staff] went ahead with action”.

He said: “What’s happening at The Independent is really just a reflection of what is happening across the entire print industry, so for The Independent to suffer industrial action because it’s only doing what most other newspaper groups are doing doesn’t make sense.

“We are doing it to save money and taking this industrial action won’t help us do that.”

Press Gazette understands that reporters are expected to bear the brunt of the latest cutbacks as The Independent is relaunched later this year and becomes more based around comment and analysis.

The relaunch will also see the group create 20 new editorial positions, focused on its digital content.



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