Lebedev's TV and digital ambitions cost 20 jobs at new seven-day Independent
12 February 2013
The Independent is to become a seven-day operation and merge departments with the Evening Standard, with the loss of more than 20 jobs.
Chris Blackhurst will be editor of the seven-day Independent and Sarah Sands will remain editor of the Evening Standard. Press reports said John Mullin, the Sunday editor, will be leaving.
The changes follow the proprietor Alexander Lebedev's successful bid to run London Live, a local TV channel for the capital.
In a letter to staff, Andrew Mullins, managing director of Evening Standard Ltd and Independent Print Ltd, said because of the successful bid for the London TV licence, the company would be making "radical and transformational" changes to the way editorial works.
He said that the Independent and Sunday Independent will be merged into a seven-day operation. The Evening Standard and Independent editorial departments will be located on the same floor and some departments will be fully integrated.
A new TV station will be built on the editorial floor, next to the news desk. The journalists who remain will be able to apply for presenting, video reporting and video content roles.
Barry Fitzpatrick, NUJ deputy general secretary, said:
"Today's announcement presents a huge challenge to the journalists working for all of the titles owned by the Lebedevs. Our members will want to be encouraged by the more positive aspects of the plan but will fear that once again it is journalist jobs that are being sacrificed. Already there has been what appears to be one senior departure.
"The union expects a detailed justification for the cuts together with meaningful consultation about the impact for editorial content and quality.
"The Lebedev family has given promises about their commitment to quality journalism which we assume apply to the TV Licence that has been granted. We expect to fully engage with the company in the coming weeks over the details of proposals and we are determined to ensure that this is not a hasty race to the bottom on job losses and quality of content."
London Live is expected to be on air next year.