Three major newspaper groups, the Financial Times, Guardian and Telegraph have announced significant reductions to their staff budgets in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the record readership figures brought by coverage of Covid-19, the dramatic fall in advertising revenue and reduced print sales have caused the publications to implement cost-cutting measures.
Financial Times CEO John Ridding told staff that ‘sudden and severe revenue shocks’ have led to the decision to implement a 10% pay cut for 80 senior managers. The move is said to help the FT avoid making redundancies, despite the publication having 1.1m paying readers and record subscriber growth in recent weeks.
The Guardian has also announced it will furlough 100 people in non-editorial roles and reduce pay by 20% for its management team, including editor Katharine Viner, for the next six months.
The Guardian news website experienced a record 2.17bn page views for March, however revenue is projected to fall by £20m for the next half of the year due to the coronavirus.
In a statement Guardian Media Group’s CEO, Annette Thomas, said: “While we are well placed to weather difficulties thanks to the strategy implemented over the last four years, it is clear that we will need to adapt as we always have, in order to serve Guardian readers and meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.”
The Telegraph has made its reductions asking non-editorial staff to take 20% pay cuts and work a four-day week. In the past two weeks, it put 90 of its workers on the government retention scheme.
The measures are brought in spite of March bringing record subscription growth to over 440,000 subscriptions. Nick Hugh, CEO of Telegraph Media Group acknowledged that despite ‘tremendous growth in subscriptions’ there is a lag in revenue.
The effect of advertising revenue losses for news brands comes in the wake of Newsworks’ #backdontblock campaign – supported by the Society of Editors – to highlight the potential £50m market loss due to companies blocking advertising in Covid-19 articles.