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May 3, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 7:44am

Evening Standard to cut editorial roles in merger of digital and print teams

By James Walker

The Evening Standard will cut editorial jobs as it merges its print and online teams, editor George Osborne told staff today.

The announcement comes almost a year after the Standard revealed an operating loss of £10m for the year ending September 2017, down from £2.2m in 2016.

In an email to staff, Osborne, who oversaw a redesign of the title last year, said: “We’ve been successful by constantly adapting to a changing world.

“Together, in the last couple of years, we’ve redesigned the paper and invested heavily in our digital output.

“That’s why our print circulation has stayed steady as other papers have declined, our online readership has grown hugely and we’ve won awards. Now we need to adapt again.

“For, like everyone else in our industry, we are facing a tough economic market with rising costs. We need to ensure the Standard evolves to be profitable and keeps pace with our fast-changing society.”

The Evening Standard distributes just under 900,000 free copies every weekday throughout Greater London, relying on print advertising and sponsored content as its primary source of revenue.

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It made a turnover of £64m in 2017 and a pre-tax loss of £11.7m, according to the latest available company accounts.

Osborne, who joined the paper as editor in May 2017, told staff today the Standard would create “single-structure editorial departments” to avoid “unnecessary duplication”, before confirming that this would result in redundancies, with a staff consultation period beginning today.

In a statement on the cuts, ESI Media group managing director Manish Malhotra said: “The Evening Standard has today begun consulting with staff on expanding its integration of print and digital editorial departments.

“This is an important step in our growth plan, as we build towards a profitable and sustainable future. The changes will allow us to produce the best content and product for our influential audiences.”

Osborne told staff in his email that they would find out if they were set to be made redundant at the end of this month.

“The move to integrated teams combined with the need to make financial savings, mean that regrettably, there will be post closures as a result of the review,” he said.

“It will not be easy, but if we are going to continue to succeed then we need to go on changing.”

Press Gazette was told that managers would carry out reviews to agree on the “most efficient structure going forward”, but the Standard would not give further details on the number of jobs affected.

Last year the Standard reshuffled its comment pages, which saw columnist Sam Leith dropped. He told Press Gazette it had been part of a “belt-tightening exercise” from management.

Speaking at the Cudlipp Lecture this year, Osborne said the Standard’s digital presence had grown to 100m page impressions and 39m unique visitors in January alone.

He also said that the British press made a “fateful decision” in deciding to give away content for free online, “in the hope that digital advertising would pay for it”.

The Standard’s latest company accounts reveal “continuing investment” in its and websites, resulted in a 49 per cent year-on-year rise in UK visitors and revenue growth of 30 per cent.

The title is owned by Evgeny Lebedev and Saudi investor Sultan Mohamed Abuljadayel, who purchased a 30 per cent stake in the title’s parent company Lebedev Holdings earlier this year.

The newspaper went through a redesign in March last year that saw “London” dropped from its masthead, its business section put on pink pages and emojis introduced to its weather forecast.

Picture: Press Gazette

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