Exaro News staff first heard about planned editorial cuts from media reports

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Investigative news website Exaro News did not tell staff about planned cuts to the editorial team before they were reported by the media, Press Gazette has learned.

A source said no proper announcement was made internally before media reports appeared.

It was only in an email from editor-in-chief Mark Watts to members of staff, sent to Press Gazette anonymously, that plans for further cuts to the editorial team were confirmed within the company.

It emerged yesterday that Exaro News is looking to halve its editorial budget and is considering operating without an editor, putting Watts at direct risk of redundancy, although these decisions are said to not yet be finalised.

Watts told colleagues in the email: “You have the right to know that further cuts to the editorial team are, indeed, planned, and, as you know, no proper announcement of this was made at the outset internally.”

He added: “Even if you end up leaving Exaro, you can all be justifiably proud of the terrific work that you have done to ‘hold power to account’. How many journalists can say that today? I am sure that your time at Exaro will be a real boon to your future careers.”

Owner Jerome Booth revealed in a statement in October last year that Exaro News was operating at a loss, which he was continuing to fund, despite attempts to create a profitable business model.

Watts’s email reveals that he approached Booth about “exploring whether anyone would be interested in buying Exaro” and said that there had been two expressions of interest already “without even looking”.

The team moved from its Fleet Street office to Floral Street, Covent Garden, last month as part of the cost-cutting. The source said the number of desks for staff was reduced from 10 to 7 as a result of the move that saw Exaro join other members of New Sparta group.

Exaro News has yet to return Press Gazette’s request for comment.

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