Evening Standard set to cut staff as business among hardest hit by Covid-19 crisis

The Evening Standard is set to cut staff after its business model was left in tatters by the coronavirus crisis and UK lockdown.

Up to 115 staff are affected, including 69 in editorial, according to the FT. This is equal to a 40% staffing cut in the newsroom, which has some 167 journalists, the business title reported.

The Standard furloughed staff and cut salaries in April, also temporarily suspending its weekly ES Magazine supplement, and switched from handouts of the free daily newspaper to home delivery.

The lockdown’s impact on commuting and advertising struck at the heart of the publisher’s business, which relied on pick-up at transport hubs for distribution and was funded almost entirely by ads.

Under lockdown its distribution has fallen by 40%, from 800,000 copies pre-pandemic to just under 500,000 as of June (ABC figures).

The title has already begun to shift towards digital and appointed a new editor in Emily Sheffield, who began last month. George Osborne, editor for the past three years, has stayed on as editor-in-chief.

An Evening Standard spokesperson said: “The proposed restructuring underway at the Evening Standard is a result of the difficult market conditions that have affected the entire media industry over recent times; these challenging conditions have been further accentuated by Covid-19.

“However, the changes also reflect the evolution of the Standard’s business priorities which are being defined by the changing behaviours and demands of our readers and customers.

“Under the new management team the Evening Standard will be focused on building its digital and mobile offering alongside print, whilst also developing a live events business with other new initiatives to be announced.”

The proposed job cuts were revealed to staff on Friday, reports say.

The Evening  Standard is owned by Russian billionaire Evgeny Lebedev, who was nominated for a peerage last week.

In 2018, the latest available accounts, Evening Standard Ltd made a pre-tax loss of £11.6m on turnover of £63.9m. The year before it lost £11.8m on turnover of £65.4m.

Picture: Reuters/Hannah McKay

Comments

2 thoughts on “Evening Standard set to cut staff as business among hardest hit by Covid-19 crisis”

  1. Makeshift/home-based newsdesks may have become a lockdown norm, but “appointed a new editor in Emily Sheffield”? That won’t give them much space.

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