Cringe-inducing stuff from the Indy today. Quite how they still don’t know the Onion is a satirical website is beyond Guido, yet they have managed to run a ‘quote’ from a supposed CNN boss on Miley Cyrus’ dancing, clearly the only story of the day:
Finally addressed some hours later:
As the Indy prepare to go out on strike at 4pm, the Lebedevs are not the most popular Russians in Kensington right now. Though the strike has been cut by one hour as a sign of goodwill for further negotiations, insiders at the paper are not holding their punches. The anger is aimed way above the editor:
“I think this strike is a vote of confidence for some sort of survival plan, for the editor and against the way people above him at senior management have gone about forcing people out of their jobs without even considering voluntary redundancies.
Others are more candid, accusing Evegeny of only seeing the Indy as “a seat at the top table… it gets you into Downing Street and to w**key parties”. There is particular anger at the way forced redundancies were put on staff before even asking anyone if they wanted to quit…
It’s official: strike action will go ahead at the Indy over editorial cuts.
Bosses won’t be too worried though – the action is planned for two hours on Friday afternoon.
Just enough time for a three bottle lunch…
The Indy HR department’s discussions with the NUJ aren’t going too well then. They now anticipate compulsory redundancies in “single figures” rather than the 27 previously feared, though they say the NUJ’s strike action makes it clear that they have “exhausted all options” and “through exhaustive discussions already it is clear that no extension of consultation will change this”. They add “our responsibility is to the staff and the newspaper and it is absolutely critical that we do not mislead anyone”. A message one insider suggests would come across better if it were not written in Comic Sans…
“The Chapel moves to ballot for industrial action up to, and including a strike”…
As you all know, every company in our industry is being hit by two forces.
One is a recession which has hit advertising hard. The other is the growth of digital media.
All of you are aware too, that for the past three and more years, the Lebedev family has poured many tens of millions into their newspapers.
While we continue to enjoy their support, we must do what we can to save money and to make our business ever more efficient.
Unfortunately, this means that we must lose more jobs at Independent Print Limited. We envisage this will be 27, including regular casual workers.
On this occasion, these will be compulsory, on the current redundancy terms.
Other areas of our business are expanding.
On independent.co.uk, we will be adding 9 new positions, rising to 20 within 6 months. On London Live, our new TV station, we will be creating 60 jobs over the coming year.
It is possible that some of those leaving us may be able to switch to the website or TV channel. I must stress, though, that this number is likely to be small because of the different skill-sets they require.
Last Friday, I presented a proposal to the Board of Independent Print Limited, outlining how I believe, with these cuts, The Independent can be sustained in print form.
We will be producing a new-look Independent. It will be redesigned to make more of our strengths in analysis, commentary and longer reads. It will be very different from i and will be unique in the UK newspaper marketplace.
Together with The Independent on Sunday and i-paper, we will still report news, of course, and break exclusive stories – as we have done repeatedly in the past fortnight alone.
But across Home and Foreign News, as well as Business, Sport, Arts and Features, our focus will shift.
It is important to state that the Board of Independent Print Limited, and the Lebedev family, strongly support my proposal for the new-look paper.
They recognise that The Independent and Independent on Sunday have successfully merged to create a 7-day operation.
They recognise that The Independent is our flagship title, hugely respected both at home and abroad.
They recognise that it feeds both the i newspaper and independent.co.uk
But they also have a stark financial reality to consider.
I personally understand how painful the threat of redundancy can be.
Those at risk of redundancy will be contacted this afternoon. I hope that the process we are embarking on can be completed as soon as possible.
There is a real and purposeful future for all the Independent titles, but only if they operate within the budget which the Board of Independent Print Limited has provided.
We talked about taking questions at this point, but out of respect for those affected we will be contacting them first.
Anyone else who has questions please come to see me, Chris, Sean or Doug in our offices this afternoon.
Just what was the Indy picture desk trying to say about Stephanie Flanders with their choice of picture to accompany the story about her dating both Ed Balls and Ed Miliband, eh?
The cull was always coming at the loss-making Independent, now Guido hears 27 members of the team will lose their jobs. Guido’s source optimistically warns: “this is the end”.
“Education for sale: Gove plans to let firms run schools for profit” bleats today’s Indy mega exclusive splash, citing a leaked memo giving the inside line on DfE policy:
“A memo prepared for Mr Gove by senior DfE staff last October revealed that expansion of the academies and free schools programme would “not reach much beyond 5,000 [schools]” unless additional central resources were found. The Education Secretary was urged to begin planning a “fundamental shift” in academies’ status before the 2015 election.”
Just the one problem: the Indy were unfortunately scooped on their “exclusive”… by the Independent on Sunday six months ago. Headlined “Secret memo shows Michael Gove’s plan for privatisation of academies”, the old Sindy story clearly came from the same leaked memo:
“The minutes, seen by The Independent on Sunday, state: “it is difficult to see how we could manage expansion of the academies and free schools programme much beyond 5,000 without increasing central resource.””
Another roaring success for the new editor…
A great first week for the new Indy editor Amol Rajan. Last night the paper scooped the world with the first picture of Edward Snowden arriving at Moscow airport and using the shuttle train transfer between terminals. The exclusive was set to remain just that though: it clearly was not the wanted man. A new edition was quickly rushed out but the damage was done. Who was the picture editor, Piers Morgan?
Amol Rajan the unfortunate man holding the mic on Channel 5’s Wright Stuff a few years back. In fairness he was a good sport about it:
“Camera 4, the one that gets right up in your face – my face – caught my swivelling around to Wright in bafflement, shamelessly revealing myself to be the kipper that had been proverbially “done”. What the camera could not detect, but which posterity should nevertheless record, is the sound of the gallery staff – the director, producers, editors, autocue bunnies – screaming in my ear: “Get the bloody mic away from him, Amol! Move the mic away!” And, for reasons I still cannot fathom, I declined this request, so that the microphone sat just below Eric’s lips as he ventilated his final enquiries: “You know, like a bit of man-on-man action? Do you fancy a bum?””
How far he has come…
A big promotion for the man previously in charge of Indy Voices, the paper’s online blog. Another young appointment to a high position. Chris Blackhurst becomes “group content director”. According to the Guardian he has been in “Lebedev’s inner circle for a number of years”. Evgeny’s new editor has a beard he would be proud of…
UPDATE: Amusingly Amol was in line for redundancy in 2009, he was told he was going to have to go and refused to leave. Amol carried on turning up to the office and made noises about unfair dismissal, so they kept him on. Proof that the key to success is persistence…
UPDATE II: MediaGuido is told the Indy and Evening Standard will undergo “a considerable period of change and reorganisation”. Editorial is relocated to the second floor of Northcliffe House, Commercial is relocated to the first floor. A newly designed News operation will be located alongside a TV news studio on the second floor.
Indy executive editor Lisa Markwell replaces John Mullin as editor of the Sindy.
Another female editor at a Lebedev paper, as Evgeny has been quick to stress…
Fascinating insight from the Indy’s political editor Andy Grice on Thursday last week:
“The wildcard on May 2 could be the UK Independence Party. The anti-EU party is consistently in double figures in the opinion polls and is fielding 1,001 candidates, up from 319 last year. Its best hopes are in Hull, Hartlepool, Stockton-on-Tees and West Wiltshire. Although Ukip says it would do well to gain more than 15 seats, it could prove a “spoiler” which prevents Tory victories, helping the Lib Dems in the South and Labour in the North.”
Though as Bloggers for UKIP point out:
“In actual fact, we have 1,734 candidates – up from 593 last time. Hull, Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees don’t even have any Council elections this year, whilst West Wiltshire council was abolished in 2009.”
Which is odd. It appears the Indy have tipped UKIP to do well in councils without elections and even in a council that has been abolished. So where did Grice get this dodgy information? It can’t have been from the UKIP website, that clearly lists which candidates are standing where.
Well scroll back six years and those figures and locations were more accurate. It was once reported that “Ukip is fielding 1,001 candidates, with its best hopes in Hull, Hartlepool, Stockton-on-Tees and West Wiltshire”, though not by Grice in the Indy, rather by Will Woodward in the Guardian in April 2007. Can anyone remember Grice getting into this sort of trouble before?
Labour are getting into a spin over this morning’s Indy splash claiming they will pledge to outspend the Tories in 2015. Balls has told LBC the story “is an exclusive but it’s wrong”, blaming a report from the Fabians: “it is not our policy, it is not our position”. As Damian McBride speculates, the Indy front page is manifestly true, Labour just won’t confirm it until they release their manifesto in two years’ time.
Labour pledging to spend more is a case of when rather than if. They say they don’t have a position now, but you can bet the scoop will be confirmed by election day…
Given that a skeleton Indy staff are expected to work on three newspapers and a website, it’s hardly surprising things like this happen. And that’s before the TV station launches…
Before the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee this morning, representatives from Hacked Off refused to comment on Guido’s exposing of their donors. They got a comprehensive kicking from most of the MPs present though:
The elite club of multi-millionaires with an axe to grind have confirmed however that they are “due to receive soon a grant from the Journalism Foundation of over £20,000”. The Journalism Foundation was former Indy editor-in-chief Simon Kelner’s £600,000 vanity project bankrolled by billionaire Russian oligarchs and Indy owners Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev. The former KGB agent set up the Foundation to promote “free and independent journalism”, pulling the plug on it after less than a year. Seemingly not before they channelled a chunk of the cash to those freedom lovers Hacked Off…
Though notice is yet to be served on the paper’s management, Guido understands that tensions over that the Indy are boiling over and the NUJ chapel has moved to ballot for industrial action. The latest round of cuts see 25 editorial jobs on the line and further integration with the Standard looms. In this round the cuts are only coming from the Indy. Derry Street sources are expecting a big majority on the side of strike action in the vote. One tells us:
“People are scared for their jobs but also for the quality of what will be left behind if this slash and burn exercise is pushed through. We already produce three newspapers and a website with by far the smallest staffs on Fleet Street, those of us left will be asked to do more with even less; not to mention this TV station.”
The anger is being directed at the very top:
“Evgeny Lebedev, who has backed the titles with huge amounts of his own cash, has constantly talked about quality journalism. We’ve always been heartened to hear that. I think a lot of people are now wondering how we’ll be able to produce it if we lose even more staff.”