Business a.m. survives but suffers 12 job cuts

Penman: "huge vote of confidence"

Scottish financial and political daily Business a.m., saved by a stringent cost-cutting budget plan for next year, has nevertheless had to cut 12 staff, seven of them journalists.

Three journalists out of five have gone from the City office and the remaining two are moving to smaller premises. One of the political team has been axed, leaving one in London and one in Scotland. An online reporter, a production journalist and a graphics staffer have also left.

The newspaper’s Swedish parent company, Bonnier, approved the plan on Thursday and the unlucky staff went on Friday. The losses are not redundancies. Editor John Penman hopes to rebuild his team when economic times are better.

Paradoxically, because it is a better use of resources, Business a.m. is taking on two editorial staff, a photographer and a three day-a-week contract journalist. The final total of journalists will then be 62 instead of 69.

The company offered severance terms greater than its contractual obligations, said Penman, adding that he felt most of the staff were relieved the scale of cuts was as few as it was.

The management rejected a cut in salaries but is cutting down on freelances, particularly foreign freelances.

Non-staff costs have been kept at a realistic level, said Penman, adding: "It would have been false economy to have cut everything."

Next year the paper must hit a circulation of 15,000 and a revenue based on how it has done this year, plus a small increase if it is to break even in 2005.

Ironically, September and October have been the paper’s best months of the year for advertising and November and December are also looking busy.

A relieved Penman said: "We see the board’s decision as a huge vote of confidence in us."

By Jean Morgan

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