From The Journal (but this is worrying and not good – Admatic). This is the second voluntary redundancy scheme announced by the company in the past year.
THE PUBLISHER OF the Irish Independent and the Sunday World is seeking to lay off around 10% of staff across the organisation as part of a voluntary redundancy scheme.
Mediahuis Ireland owns the Irish Independent and Sunday Independent, the Sunday World, the Belfast Telegraph and a number of regional titles such as the Kerryman.
The company said in a statement today that its two traditional revenue streams, single copy sales and print advertising, are still its most important, but added that “both are under pressure”.
It said they are being replaced by revenues from digital subscribers and digital advertising, “but at a slower pace”.
“Mediahuis Group estimates that this year 70% of our revenue will come from print and 30% from digital, but by 2030 we foresee that it will be a 30-70 ratio of print-digital,” the company said in its statement.
It said the organisational size and skillset “needs to change to adapt to this new revenue base”.
“To remain a successul news organisation into the future and continue to play a central role in journalism on the island of Ireland, we need to adapt to the landscape in which we are functioning and to the changing needs of our customers,” the company said.
“As such, we are seeking a reduction in staffing levels of approximately 10% across our organisation,” it said.
It’s understood this involves around 50 positions from the publishing division, 30 of which are editorial.
Mediahuis Ireland said the savings from the voluntary redundancy programme “will allow the business to invest in new products, target new audiences and make our brands more resilient, and more customer-oriented for readers and advertisers alike”.
Chief executive Peter Vandermeersch said: “Journalism is the absolute core of our business, but all over the world, media companies are struggling with the same dilemma – how to generate sufficient revenues to finance our ambition to produce excellent journalism.
“I am convinced that our strategy is the right one: to restructure our business to make this a leaner, more streamlined news organisation with the most efficient processes and systems possible, while continuing to produce the highest quality journalism and diversifying our revenues to build a sustainable future for our company.”
In a statement this afternoon, Séamus Dooley, Irish Secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), expressed “grave concern” at the implications for staff and for the publications within the group.
“There was no prior consultation with the NUJ on the proposed redundancies and we have already sought engagement with the company,” Dooley said.
“We note the commitment to voluntary redundancies but are also concerned that compulsory redundancies have not been ruled out at this stage,” he said.
“The future of media organisations will not be secured through diminution in editorial resources. We need urgent clarification on where the axe is likely to fall and are mindful of the fact that these redundancies are proposed in an exceptionally busy year for news,” Dooley added.
He said the NUJ will consult with its officers at Mediahuis in the coming days and with its members throughout the company.
Last March, Mediahuis Ireland announced it was looking to reduce its editorial staffing levels as part of its shift to an online-first model.
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on workers’ rights Louise O’Reilly TD has said today’s announcement is a “crushing blow to workers”.
“It is a challenging time for the newspaper and publishing industry but the fact that today’s announcement comes just 10 months after the previous round of redundancies, to me, lacks honesty and transparency, and is a very cruel and cynical way of treating any worker,” O’Reilly said.
“It is vital that Mediahuis now liaises with the National Union of Journalists, consults directly with its workers and, crucially, is upfront, transparent and honest with them so that a structured way forward can be negotiated,” she said.
“I offer my support and solidarity to those facing yet another period of upheaval, and I would urge the Mediahuis management to engage directly with its workers to agree a pathway forward that saves jobs and puts both their national and regional titles on a sustainable footing.”