The Financial Times announced this week it plans to eliminate 35 jobs while adding 10 digital journalists, as the paper shifts its focus to digital from print.
The Times, which has a very high-net-worth subscriber base, has not been immune from the same pressures that other newspapers around the world have faced as readers increasingly abandoned print news for the digital variety. But it has weathered the storm better than most of its competitors.
In an email to the staff, Lionel Barber, editor of the Times, said that mobile now accounts for 25 percent of the FT’s digital traffic, and that it would be “reckless” to stand still.
…we must stick to the tested practices of good journalism: deep and original reporting based on multiple sources and a sharp eye for the scoop. But we must also recognise that the internet offers new avenues and platforms for the richer delivery and sharing of information.
Barber cited Google, LinkedIn and Twitter as competitors that have disrupted the news business. He added that while print is still a vital source of advertising revenues, FT needs to adapt to the changing demands of its readers.
That will require cutting staff on the print side, while offsetting some of those layoffs with increased hires on the digital side, but only to the point that it is cost effective to do so.
As Barber noted, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as other competitors, not only have a keen cost advantage over FT and other print newspapers, but they are siphoning crucial advertising revenues away as well. Legacy newspapers like the Times have invested large sums in plants, equipment and employees, which can’t be easily dismantled, and it makes them less nimble than their online competition.
What should be more worrisome to newspaper executives around the world, though, is if a profitable paper like the Times is taking this action, what does it mean for the future of the industry as a whole?