Newsnight staff will fight if forced to reapply for jobs

Newsnight correspondents will “strongly resist” any attempts by management to make them reapply for their jobs if plans to axe two roles at the programme go through, Press Gazette has learned.

Newsnight’s 15 correspondents include high-profile journalists such as Michael Crick and Martha Kearny.

A source inside the programme told Press Gazette: “Reapplying for jobs is something that staff will resist strongly as it is a farce. The editors and managers know who the reporters are, and to make them go through the show trial of reapplying is quite demeaning.”

A month ago, Newsnight editor Peter Barron told staff that the programme would lose two correspondents as part of the next stage of job cuts within BBC News.

The source said: “He was looking for voluntary redundancies. There are around 15 correspondents at Newsnight and Peter was looking to cut one specialist and a generalist.”

It is understood that at present no staff have come forward to accept voluntary redundancy but there may be some scope for negotiation – for instance, if a correspondent can find a job in another part of the BBC.

The Newsnight insider said: “No one wants to move to another area of the BBC as there are pretty deep cuts taking place across the board. Newsnight is one of the few programmes on the BBC where you are able to work on quality projects, make longer films, and it is generally a good place to work.”

However, Barron has told staff that if voluntary redundancies are not received “soon” the programme will have to press ahead with compulsory redundancies.

Calls from BBC managers for more “360-degree commissioning” mean that programme makers have to produce not only television packages but radio, internet and print versions as well.

The Newsnight source said: “This multi-media approach requires the investment of more money and it seems that the BBC has decided that the best way to pay for that is by cutting reporters’ jobs.”

A BBC spokeswoman declined to go into the detail of changes at Newsnight, but speaking in general terms, said: “Given the scale of the reductions we could not provide any guarantee that we would be able to avoid compulsories.”

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