Ian Katz leaves the Guardian for the BBC

Here is what Guardian editor-in-chief had to say about Ian Katz’s departure in an email to staff sent a few minutes ago

Dear All,

Ian Katz has decided to accept an offer to go and run Newsnight. He first joined the paper more than 20 years ago as editor of a page called Young Guardian. Since then he’s done many things – including New York correspondent, editing G2, launching Guardian Unlimited, and deputy editor (News).

He’s played so many really important roles on the paper, hiring terrific talent and inspiring some great journalism. He helped build our reputation for world leading environment reporting and more recently played a central part running the Wikileaks coverage. We’re sorry to see him go, but leading the BBC’s flagship news programme is one of the most important jobs in broadcasting and I’m sure he will do it brilliantly.

Paul Johnson, as deputy editor, will take immediate responsibility for news while we consider the longer term implications for senior roles.

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We’re all in this together: 5% pay cut mooted at Guardian and Observer as papers seek cuts

 

The struggle to reduce costs at the Guardian and the Observer to a manageable level will be one of the biggest media stories of the next 12 months, particularly if journalists strike in an attempt to save jobs. On Wednesday 12 December, managers at the papers wrote to staff outlining some ideas on how this might be achieved. The figures are in the email below so I won’t repeat them all here, but some are worth highlighting. The NUJ marched on to the moral high ground some weeks ago (see a previous post) by suggesting top executives – those earning 100k or more – might consider taking a pay cut in a bid to save jobs at the paper. Weeks late (see last post) management said 68 jobs would have to go. A good number of those are likely to go through compulsory redundancies, unless there is a last minute rush to apply for voluntary redundancy or significant savings can be found elsewhere.

Today, management told staff some executives had signalled they might well be willing to take a pay cut. But they also said in an email that if a 5% cut was imposed on all those who earn six figures, the exercise will only save £230,000 per annum – enough to save 3 journalists jobs. The calculation is made on the basis that the average journalistic salary at the papers is £64,800 – or £74,800 when National Insurance and other payments are taken into account. This has caused a degree of disquiet amongst some Guardian and Observer staff.  The average sounds very high. If it has been calculated by dividing the total salaries paid by the number of editorial staff, it will be distorted by the handful of employees who earn 100k or more, including editor-in-chief Alan Rubridger. Rusbridger is paid around £400k.

If a median figure was used instead, it would be far lower, and more accurately reflect the typical pay of a jobbing journalist. That figure can’t be calculated without looking at the Guardian and Observer’s books, but it is likely to come in at closer to £40,000 or £50,000. So a 5% pay cut for those earning £100,000 or more could actually save 5 or 6 reporting jobs.

If those same execs were to follow the example set by Rusbridger, who it was announced earlier this year will take a 10% pay cut (and smaller pension payments), the amount saved would be twice as high – and 10 or 12 ‘average’ journalists might be saved. That is a significant number, and a 20% cut might increase it to 20 or more – close to a third of the redundancies currently planned.

Similarly, the company says scrapping sabbaticals – the majority of journalists are entitled to 4 weeks unpaid sabbatical every four years – would save £500,000. Using the £74,800 figure, that equates to 7 jobs. The figure would be ten jobs if a median figure of £50,000 was used.

A pay freeze would save £0.88m a year – 12 jobs according to management – and a 5% across the board pay cut £2.29m – or 29 jobs. Again, that depends on what a typical reporter is paid. While some well-paid executives could theoretically be made redundant, the vast majority of job cuts will clearly fall on the regular reporters, sub-editors, designers and picture editors who are paid far less. It makes for a terrible, anxious Christmas for all staff, but the simple fact is a 5% cut for a well-paid exec is less painful than a pay freeze (in real terms, a cut) for a junior or middle-ranking journalist. To their credit, management said today low paid staff could be exempt from such a freeze. But it would be reassuring for readers if Guardian managers read their own editorials and agreed that when it comes to forcing through cuts, the burden should be shouldered by those who can most afford it.  

The NUJ at the Guardian and the Observer is asking members to support a strike ballot at a meeting tomorrow lunchtime (Thursday 13 December). You will be able to read about the outcome here.

 

 

12th December

Dear colleagues,

We are writing ahead of the chapel meeting to update you on our talks
with NUJ officials.

The NUJ have asked us to clarify the savings target for this year and
next. At the time of writing we have a target of achieving at least
£6m in 2012/13 and £7m in 2013/14. The 2013/14 savings will include
any saving carried forward from 12/13. These figures only relate to
editorial savings, as other savings, for example on office costs,
contribute to the wider GNM target.

Both the union and the management are agreed on the need to find the
savings now. There has been some speculation in other papers about
asset disposals. When we do exit from our investments then the cash
will be transferred to a fund that will be used to cover our losses.
However, the less we put into that fund the smaller the return. And it
is inconceivable that we can use that fund to maintain losses at their
current level of £50m. It is possible that we could fund losses of a
manageable level of nearer to £10m.

The enhanced redundancy offer closes on Friday and we hope that — in
line with the survey conducted by the NUJ and ACAS earlier this year —
more people will come forward to take advantage of these terms. At the
moment though the 2012/13 savings stand at about £0.9m and the 2013/14
savings at £2.7m (35.8 full-time equivalents). We will not achieve the
target for 2012/13 but nonetheless we have to maximise the savings we
can make now.

After December 14, any redundancies will be made on the old terms.
These are still very generous terms which may have to be reviewed in
future years.

We are engaged in a 90-day consultation period so that we can explore
every possible option to avoid the position where we may have to make
compulsory redundancies. We would not contemplate having to resort to
compulsory redundancies were these not exceptional circumstances. We
therefore ask the staff to consider every available option in terms of
editorial budget savings.

The NUJ has expressed a desire to negotiate a settlement so we thought
it would be helpful to show how different proposals could affect how
the savings total is achieved. Some of these ideas came up in recent
staff meetings with Andrew Miller and Alan Rusbridger.

We have taken on board one of the Chapel’s proposals in relation to
staff earning more that £100,000p.a. We have written to these members
of staff and asked them to consider a reduction in salary. We have
some positive responses to this and when we are able to, we will
inform you of the total savings achieved. If everyone on that salary
range took a 5 per cent cut that would equate to savings of about
£230,000 or roughly 3 jobs*.

Another suggestion has been to look at reducing the number of casuals
we employ. We are prepared to explore this, but as some people are not
available to work weekends or lates, even though they are on 9-day
fortnights, and as people do not spread holidays or sabbaticals evenly
through the year, then casual cover is inevitable and indeed
invaluable. We believe removing 9-day fortnights for people who are
currently working a Monday to Friday pattern could save us about
£250,000 a year or 4 jobs*.

Savings on sabbaticals would also be an alternative to job losses.
There is some disagreement about the savings that could come from
ending them but if it saved, say, £500,000 that would equate to 7
jobs*.
A pay freeze next year would also reduce the savings task. This would
be a big step — but it would help demonstrate that we recognise the
severity of the situation facing us and would be a step towards the
sustainable future that does exist if we reduce costs now. We have
budgeted a 2 per cent rise for next year. If that were foregone it
would save £0.88 million or 12 jobs*.
And, finally, touching on something that a few years ago would have
been unthinkable; would the staff consider accepting a pay cut? A 5
per cent reduction in pay would save, say, £2.2m or 29 jobs* – and of
course we could look at options which exclude the lower paid or go for
different rates at different salary levels.

Worked examples

SAVINGS TARGET £7.0m
Minus sabbaticals £0.5m
Minus salary cut 5% £2.2m
Minus some 9-day
Fortnights £0.25m
Current VRs £2.7m

Remaining savings/VRs needed: £1.35m or 18 more redundancies

SAVINGS TARGET £7.0m
Minus sabbaticals £0.5m
Minus salary cut 2% £0.88m
Minus some 9-day
Fortnights £0.25m
Current VRs £2.7m

Remaining savings/VRs needed: £2.67m or 35 more redundancies

These examples are only illustrative but show different ways of
reaching the target. Of course there will be different opinions about
what should and shouldn’t be considered.

Some people may feel that mitigating the headcount reduction through
changes to terms and conditions is not the right approach and that it
would be better if we continued to seek the remaining redundancies.
Without a reduction in heads it will be harder to make other savings
and harder to get a reduction in output.

Following a suggestion from some union members we have been having a
look at how the redeployment register could work as a way of reducing
headcount within departments. You can find details of that policy
here:

We would be interested in views as to how this might work given the
current situation, as we want to explore all mechanisms to produce the
required savings.

We look forward to hearing proposals about ways we can reach the
savings target from within the editorial budget.

Sheila and Jan
*average FTE NUJ salary is 60.8k or 74.8k including on-costs

 

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latest on Guardian and Observer potential job losses

Here is the text of the email sent to staff at the Guardian and the Observer on Thursday December 6th 2012. It details where job cuts will fall if savings can’t be found elsewhere. A few people have told me I was wrong to say compulsory redundancies have been announced. I think the email shows that they are certain to happen, sad thought that it is, but others can judge for themselves. I know journalists fell silent today when they received the email because it details where job losses will fall. Sobering times for two great newspapers.  

Dear colleagues

Yesterday we met with the NUJ and it was agreed that we would circulate the table below which indicates the level of additional redundancies required area by area. The table is based on the assumption that the £7m of saving is made entirely through headcount ie a reduction of 100 FTEs.
To reach 100 we need a further 68 FTEs. The only way the number would come down from 68 is if there were other proposals for permanent savings. The proposal below is based on the size of the teams in each area and the VRs already accepted. So for example in news & pods while the number looks high it is in fact the smallest proposed change in percentage terms. In addition it is assumed that there will be some reduction in content across all areas.
In these circumstances it is extremely important that people who wish to take advantage of the enhanced VR scheme do so before its closure on 14 December 2012. After that any redundancies will happen on the old terms. Please contact xxxxxxxxx or xxxxxxxx if you wish to apply.

If you have any questions please feel free to email me directly

xxxxxx

 
Proposal
News & Pods    

Editing                                5
Reporting / Writing        8
Production                         9

Comment, Letters & Leaders

Editing                              1
Reporting / Writing      1
Production                        1

Culture, Features, Saturday & Guardian Weekly

Editing                              8
Reporting / Writing       3
Production                        4

Sport

Editing                               2
Reporting / Writing       2
Production                        4

Observer core

Editing                                2
Reporting / Writing        2
Production                         4

Design & Graphics           3

Pictures                               6

ESD                                       1

Multimedia                        2

All figures given are FTE  (MY NOTE – FTE = FULL TIME EMPLOYEES)

TOTAL:68

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Sad day for Guardian as compulsory redundancies loom

Here is the email sent to staff at the Guardian and the Observer today by managing editor Jan Thompson and Sheila Fitzsimons, Executive Director, transformation, at Guardian News & Media.

Dear colleagues,

Today editorial management met with NUJ officials to discuss ways to achieve the required budget and headcount reduction in editorial. The NUJ have asked us to re-open the voluntary redundancy scheme which we have agreed to do and you will be receiving a letter about this soon.

We also tabled other possible cost-saving measures we would like to discuss with the NUJ, including: a pay freeze; reducing the use of casuals; encouraging part-time working; and changing terms and conditions, including reviewing the 9-day fortnight and sabbaticals.

Of course, we hope that we will be able to achieve the required savings without making compulsory redundancies, but because we recognise that they can’t be ruled out, we have today entered into a formal consultation period with the NUJ for a minimum of 90 days. During that time, we want to work constructively with the NUJ to achieve the savings by voluntary means if at all possible.

We will be in touch again soon to let you know how talks are progressing.

Best wishes,

Sheila and Jan

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NUJ and the Guardian

The Guardian and the NUJ are bending over backwards to avoid compulsory redundancies at the paper and its Sunday sister title the Observer. Good for them. There is a clamour from some quarters, including the Guardian’s competitors, for the paper to downsize drastically. No wonder. The fact that the paper has enviable editorial resources is one reason it breaks stunning,  world-changing stories like phone-hacking and Wikileaks. It enables the paper to bring down cabinet ministers, as it did recently by asking questions about the relationship between former defence secretary Liam Fox and his best man Adam Werritty. Conquering the online world doesn’t come cheap either. The Guardian was doing that when other newspapers were still questioning the wisdom of setting up websites in the first place. Running a loss-making paper and an expensive website is unsustainable in the long-term, but every news organisation is doing its best to survive while they figure out how best to make cash in a digital era.  The arguments about digital transition are well rehearsed, but noone can believe sacrificing editorial quality will help the Guardian and the Observer prosper. Better to freeze salaries – or maybe even reduce some – than lose staff.

As the email reprinted below shows, union representatives continue to explore other options to avoid job losses. The deadline for applying for voluntary redundancies has effectively been extended. The NUJ is also encouraging staff to think about whether they might reduce their working hours. Another idea the union has mooted is a £100,000 pay cap at the papers. That suggestion, which was aired in meetings with management, is no doubt designed to highlight the fact some executives, including editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, earn enviable salaries. It would be easy to dismiss the pay cap idea as posturing. What would it achieve? After all, virtually every sizeable media organisation – the Guardian and the Observer employ around 1000 people – is run by highly-skilled, highly-paid staff. The amount saved by reducing a handful of salaries, temporarily, to the £100,000 level would depend on how many people earn six-figures, of course. But it may not be high enough to save many jobs. Then again, it would certainly send a powerful message to journalists, many of whom wonder why any of their colleagues at the left-leaning paper should be taking home more than £5,000 a month after tax when its very existence is threatened.  The principal that the better off should shoulder more of the pain is a well-established one, as anyone who regularly reads the paper will attest. Could it be that what is good for the country is also good for the Guardian?

here’s the NUJ email to staff.

If you are still interested in the idea of voluntary redundancy we would like to hear from you. The company has confirmed to us that it will still accept applications.

It may be that the written offer you received earlier this year didn’t quite fit your needs at the time. If you have a suggestion for a different VR arrangement that could be mutually acceptable, it will be considered. Either contact the managing editor’s office directly, or get in touch with a chapel officer if you would like us to make an approach on your behalf.

Similarly, we would like to hear from anyone who wants to reduce their working week – this measure proved to be highly effective the last time there was a major cost-cutting exercise, and we believe it can again play its part as the company looks for savings of £7m in the editorial budget.

As ever, it is the chapel’s position that any reductions in staffing must be done voluntarily. It is also our position that cost-cutting cannot be done at the expense of our journalism, and we’re happy to report that the management regularly expresses the same view

We are talking to the company about potential savings, and they would like to hear any ideas that NUJ members have on the subject.

For example, in line with the principle of voluntarism, we discussed the potential savings of all those members of the editorial staff who earn six-figure salaries agreeing to cap their income at £100,000 a year until the company has resolved its budgetary problems. Again, we’d like to stress this would have to be a voluntary move – we are not in the business of negotiating away our members terms and conditions.

You may well have some thoughts of your own about how the company can save money, particularly within Editorial. If so, please let us know and we will pass them on.

There will be a chapel meeting on 8 November, when we can discuss all this and more. It is likely the company will have tabled some proposals of its own by then. If so, we would need to consider these as well, of course. Meanwhile, we will continue to keep you posted of developments as and when they happen.

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Union reps propose a pay cap at the Guardian

Union representatives at the Guardian are suggesting that senior executives cap their pay at 100k as they try to come up with ideas to avoid compulsory redundancies at the paper.

In an email to staff on Thursday NUJ representatives stressed the cap would be voluntary. Once the paper’s budgetary problems are behind it, those on 100k or more would revert to their full salary.

It’s a clever idea, if a somewhat mischevious one. Others include encouraging staff to reduce their working hours along with their salaries. The company, which also owns the Observer, is trying to find editorial savings of £7m. The union, and the company, should be congratulated for trying to find ways to save cash without laying off staff. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone sticks their hand up.

PS I was wrongly told this was a management proposal earlier, and got a heap of abuse as a reult. It was an honest mistake. Sorry. I have nothing but respect for the Guardian and was lucky to work there briefly.

PPS here is the relevant section of the NUJ email.

“…in line with the principle of voluntarism, we discussed the potential savings of all those members of the editorial staff who earn six-figure salaries agreeing to cap their income at £100,000 a year until the company has resolved its budgetary problems. Again, we’d like to stress this would have to be a voluntary move – we are not in the business of negotiating away our members terms and conditions.”

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Guardian isn’t ditching print just yet

Andrew Miller, CEO of Guardian

The Telegraph has this afternoon published a story claiming that GNM is ‘close to axing the print editions of the Guardian and Observer’.  It is a rehash of a blog written on a small advertising website.I can confirm this is completely untrue.
The newspaper makes up two thirds of our revenue and remains core to our strategy.  The figures for going digital only and abandoning print simply don’t add up.
As David pointed out in his email this morning, Guardian content is accessed by 5.8m across print, web and mobile in GB every week – more than any other national quality title, including the Telegraph.
This is something that we should all be incredibly proud of.
Andrew– Andrew Miller,CEO Guardian Media Group

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