Financial Times cuts 20 journalists' jobs as downturn hits

The Financial Times is proposing to make 80 staff redundant – including 20 journalists – as the business daily feels the effects of the economic downturn.

The news follows an appeal for redundancy volunteers made at the beginning of December. While some volunteers did come forward, a significant number of those leaving the business will be compulsory redundancies.

Press Gazette understands that there have been 11 volunteers for redundancy in editorial and that the company anticipates it may make a further nine journalists compulsorily redundant.

FT chief executive John Ridding said in an email to staff today that all those facing the axe will have been contacted by tomorrow.

He revealed that FT.com is set to reach one million registered users this month and further investment in the web was one of the priorities for 2009.

He added that there were plans for “deeper integration of our print and online teams across our commercial and editorial operations”.

Ridding said there were also plans for “sustained international expansion” including further growth in the Middle East edition and the Chinese-language operations.

Explaining the need for cutbacks he said: ‘Over the past year we have taken a number of significant measures to reduce our costs and redeploy resources, from print and distribution savings to contract negotiations with suppliers and outsourcing non-core processes.

“We are now taking the next steps in reorganising and streamlining our business.”

Ridding and FT editor Lionel Barber are to outline the planned changes in a series of presentations on Wednesday.

Ridding said: ‘We understand that change isn’t easy – especially when it affects colleagues and friends who we’ve worked with closely. But these measures are necessary to build on our success.”

In early December, the FT revealed that it was imposing a pay freeze, axing jobs and restructuring its business in a bid to save costs in the troubled financial climate.

In a letter to staff at the time, Ridding said that while the paper was performing well, its customers and advertisers were being affected and it needed to ‘prepare for difficult times”.

He said: “We need to act early and decisively to reduce costs so that we can sustain our investment and our success.”

It was announced that staff earning less than £30,000 would receive an annual base salary increase next year, but others will be subject to a pay freeze unless economic conditions improve.

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