Fletcher: "dismay" at losing staff
It was the journalists who came off worst when telegraph.co.uk decided it must shed 17 jobs from its 87 staff – 10 of those jobs belonged to journalists and designers.
The site, formerly the six-year-old Electronic Telegraph, relaunched only in July, with an editorial team of 25. Since then more journalists have been added as moneytelegraph and sporttelegraph have spun off from the main site, taking the total to 35.
But on Thursday of last week, the site, edited by Derek Bishton, was back to the original 25 after the Telegraph group made redundancies following the national downturn in advertising.
News lost five, sport, two, and money, two, including the most senior journalist to go, Susanne Doyle, editor of moneytelegraph. A designer also went. Editorial director of Hollinger Telegraph New Media, Kim Fletcher, said the redundancies were provoked by the idea that it was prudent to take costs down now so that the site could keep going.
"There is a complete commitment by the company to keep the whole thing going. The way we have done the redundancies, we can keep telegraph.co.uk pretty much as it was. The sadness for us was we have had to take out some of the talent which is writing specifically for the net."
Fletcher believes the axing of jobs was done in a "fair, civilised fashion" with people seen face-to-face by their managers. "I saw all the journalists one by one. These things are never easy but I was amazed by the goodwill shown by the people who are leaving. They said, ‘look we could see this coming. It’s a difficult time and these things happen’," he said. "People were upset but not angry."
Content on the site remains free but the company is exploring areas other than Fantasy Football for which it might charge.
The cuts come as the site is showing signs of developing, with audience figures up through the 30 million barrier last month.
"There is dismay that we had to lose people but there is a sense that it was necessary," said Fletcher.
He said all those going were excellent journalists. Of Doyle, he said: "She has done brilliantly this year but it is an area where we need the production people.
"She is an example of an absolutely excellent journalist whom you would not dream of wanting to lose." Mark Blackstock, the money channel head, takes over her duties.
By Jean Morgan