Evening Standard journalists have paid tribute to “talented” colleagues who have taken redundancy as Covid-19 restrictions forced job cuts in the newsroom.
At least 16 journalists at the London title have announced their departures online in the past week from teams including video, showbiz and sport.
They are part of an anticipated 40% cut to newsroom staff after the Standard’s business model was one of the worst hit in the media industry by Covid-19, relying as it does largely on free pick-up by commuters and advertising revenue.
It is believed that up to 115 staff in total will leave in the current round of redundancies, including 69 in editorial – many of whom are understood to have taken voluntary redundancy.
The journalists to have left the newsroom include:
- Chris Stone, executive producer for video and audio
- David Lynch, Liverpool FC correspondent
- Emma Clarke, SEO and audience development manager
- Fola Olorunselu, video journalist
- George Fenwick, showbiz reporter
- Jack Webb, gaming and tech writer
- Joe Krishnan, sport journalist
- Kimberley Bond, showbiz reporter
- Lucy Pavia, Insider editor
- Mathilda Mallinson, video journalist
- Rachel McGrath, digital showbiz and TV editor
- Rich Parry, deputy head of sport
- Rob Le Mare, video producer
- Sally Biddall, head of social
- Tony Mogan, digital production assistant (sports desk)
- Zoe Paskett, arts writer.
Executive video producer Chris Stone wrote on Friday that the Standard was “losing a lot of very talented journalists in a round of Covid-forced job cuts”.
“These are exceptional people who have a wealth of experience, cutting-edge skills and deep subject knowledge,” he tweeted.
SEO and audience development manager Emma Clarke, who is also leaving, praised her “incredible team who have gone above and beyond”.
She tweeted: “The pandemic has drastically hit the media industry (among others). And yet – in spite of it all – my brilliant, oh-so-talented colleagues have continued to deliver insightful, thought-provoking stories, keeping the public informed throughout this troubling time.
Gaming and tech writer Jack Webb, who said he had been made redundant after just a few months, said: “We achieved so much great stuff during this short time and it sucks this is how it ends.”
Standard chairman John Paton told Bloomberg this week that despite a shift in focus to online the Standard had not gone digital-only because of its focus on being “London’s newspaper” making it different from the Independent, which closed its print edition in 2016.
The Standard has been badly hit by office workers staying at home since the pandemic hit the UK in March.
According to Business Insider, 9 October saw the most Tube journeys (1.52m) since lockdown began (compared to more than 100m per month last year).
But one week later London moved to a Tier 2 level lockdown, meaning people should once again avoid using public transport as much as possible.
In September the Standard distributed on average 512,016 copies a day, down 38% year-on-year.
By comparison it distributed 787,447 copies daily in February and dropped this to 423,285 in late March and April when lockdown began, also trying out doing home delivery for the first time.
An Evening Standard spokesperson said in August: “The proposed restructuring underway at the Evening Standard is a result of the difficult market conditions that have affected the entire media industry over recent times; these challenging conditions have been further accentuated by Covid-19.
“However, the changes also reflect the evolution of the Standard’s business priorities which are being defined by the changing behaviours and demands of our readers and customers.
“Under the new management team the Evening Standard will be focused on building its digital and mobile offering alongside print, whilst also developing a live events business with other new initiatives to be announced.”
London’s free business daily, City AM, has been similarly hit and is making its own layoffs, expected to equal about a third of editorial staff, after the slow return of commuters to trains has forced it to delay its return to print twice already.
Among those made redundant were property editor Helen Crane and sports writer Felix Keith. Others, such as sports editor Frank Dalleres, have been returning to work as the furlough scheme comes to an end at the end of October.
Crane tweeted: “So it turns out running a print supplement at a commuter newspaper wasn’t exactly pandemic-proof, and I’ve been made redundant from my brilliant job as property editor at City AM.”