Leading media industry website, Press Gazette, warns that more than 2,000 jobs at UK-based news organisations have been put at risk during the COVID-19 crisis so far – with more expected to follow. The website's editor, Freddy Mayhew, reports: 'Cutbacks have fallen across the news industry as the decline in print sales has deepened and the advertising market has collapsed under lockdown. This month alone [August] more than 200 redundancies have been revealed, split between Daily Mail
publisher DMG Media and the Evening Standard
. A large proportion of editorial staff are affected by the cutbacks, even at organisations that were able to avoid furloughing staff earlier on'.
In April, at the height of the pandemic, Press Gazette reported that more than 2,000 staff across the UK's national and regional press had been furloughed. Many of these have now turned into real cuts. At the BBC alone, close to 1,000 jobs have been put at risk across news and the nations and regions, with the broadcaster facing an estimated £125m in lost income this financial year as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
Mayhew explains that the pandemic has accelerated cutbacks at most news organisations: 'The press, in particular, has already been struggling with a declining print readership, disruption from mobile and online, and a digital ad market dominated by the tech giants'.
This is how Press Gazette assesses the jobs position across the industry so far arising from the effect of COVID-19:
• DMG Media – up to 100 staff facing redundancy
• Evening Standard
– up to 115 staff facing redundancy, including 69 in editorial
• The Guardian
– up to 180 jobs at risk of redundancy, including 70 in editorial
• Reach – 550 jobs to go at the UK's largest newspaper publisher (around 12% of its workforce)
• Newsquest – at least 38 journalism jobs at risk, plus more in advertising
• News UK – no numbers yet, but warning of job cuts to come as transition to 'digital future' accelerates
• BBC regions – 450 jobs to go in TV, radio and online at BBC England, plus a further 150 across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
• BBC News
– up to 520 jobs to go, including journalists and senior management
• Dennis Publishing – more than 60 jobs at risk, or about 15% of the workforce
• The Stage
– redundancy consultations began on 3 July
• The Daily Telegraph
– branded content arm ditched ahead of schedule, with fewer than 100 non-editorial roles at risk
• The Economist
– 7% of global workforce cut (some 90 job roles) but editorial unaffected
• New York Times
– 68 roles lost, primarily in advertising
• Quartz – 80 jobs cuts and London office closed
The newspaper industry's regulator, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), has revealed that it has had a 'high volume of complaints' about the headline 'Death Express' on the front page of the Scottish Sun
, following the fatal train crash near Stonehaven last Wednesday (12 August). Three people died in the accident – the train driver, conductor and a passenger. The Scottish Sun's
editor, Alan Muir, has already apologised for the heading, which was superimposed on a graphic picture of the accident scene.
On its website, IPSO said: 'We are currently receiving a high volume of complaints about an article in the Scottish Sun headlined "Death Express". We are dealing with these under our normal procedures but there may be a slight delay in responding'. The National
daily newspaper carried a story on Friday, by its multi-media reporter, Laura Webster, in which she reported that Twitter users had called for a boycott of the Scottish Sun
after its front page 'caused outrage'.
Newspapers tend not to carry stories on apologies in its fellow publications but The National
quoted in full Muir's apology which had appeared on social media. In his apology, in his own newspaper, Muir wrote: 'Dear Scottish Sun
readers. I'm writing today to apologise. Wednesday was a tragic day for Scotland, and the headline on the front page of our paper in relation to the terrible train accident caused further distress. For that, I am truly sorry... My team and I work hard every day to give you a product of high standard – but this time I made a mistake. At a time when family, friends and colleagues are grieving the loss of their loved ones, the last thing they need is something else to add to their grief... It would never be my intention to cause any deliberate upset or harm, especially in such terrible circumstances. I got it wrong on this occasion and can only apologise for that... We value our loyal family of readers very much and I personally thank you for continuing to support us. Yours sincerely, Alan Muir'.
Last week, I reported how the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, found that the surge in people watching television and online video content during the coronavirus lockdown amounted to almost 45 hours a week. Here is a breakdown which helps explain how this total was reached. The biggest factor was people spending twice a much time watching subscription streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video. This trend was even higher among 16 to 34-year-olds.
Ofcom found that an estimated 12 million people signed up to a new video streaming service during lockdown, with around three million folk subscribing to one of those services for the first time. Some were older viewers who previously watched only broadcast TV. A third of 55 to 64-year-olds, and 15% of people aged 65 or over used subscription streaming services in the early weeks of lockdown – up from 25% and 12% respectively before the COVID-19 crisis.
Disney+, which launched on the first day of lockdown, made an immediate impact. The new service attracted 16% of online adults by early July, surpassing NOW TV (10%) to become the third most-popular subscription streaming service behind Netflix (45%) and Amazon Prime Video (39%).
Reveals Ofcom: 'Among children aged three to 11, Disney+ was used in a third of homes by June – overtaking BBC iPlayer which saw use among these children fall from 26% to 22% during the spring. The BBC was the most popular source of news and information about COVID-19 – used by eight in 10 adults during the first week of lockdown... Broadcasters' video-on demand services were also successful in lockdown. The dramas Normal People
and Killing Eve
helped BBC iPlayer attract a record 570 million programme requests in May – 72% higher than in May 2019... Similarly, Channel 4's on-demand service, All 4, generated 30% more views among 19 to 34-year-olds in the first two weeks of lockdown, and viewers spent 82% more time on ITV Hub. As lockdown measures eased towards the end of June, the uplift in viewing to video streaming services and other non-broadcast content held steady, at 71% higher than the previous year. In contrast, by the end of June, traditional broadcast TV viewing declined from its peak in early lockdown – falling 44 minutes to three hours two minutes per day'.
Ofcom adds that the nation's adoption of streaming services appears set to continue after lockdown. The overwhelming number of online adults signed up to Netflix (96%), Amazon Prime Video (91%) and Disney+ (84%), and said they plan to keep their subscriptions in the months ahead. More than 50% say they will continue to spend the same amount of time watching streamed content in future as they have done during lockdown.
Edinburgh Evening News
journalist, Conor Matchett, has earned a second top prize from the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) within the past year. He has just won the media law and ethics in practice award for his 'exceptional' performance in the NQA examination.
Conor, who also won the NCTJ trainee top scoop award in 2019, completed his diploma with PA Training. He said: 'Studying Scots law for the NQJ exam after sitting English law in my diploma was a huge challenge which meant almost starting from scratch in terms of my legal knowledge, but this award makes the hard graft more than worthwhile'.
A second top NCTJ prize came to Scotland thanks to Ross Hanvidge of the Helensburgh Advertiser
, who won the Newsquest e-logbook award. Ross, a Glasgow Caledonian University graduate, was praised by the moderator for his excellent logbook which 'gained high marks due to a number of impressive elements'.
Said Ross: 'The logbook was very much a labour of love featuring real human-interest stories which were important to the communities I cover. I genuinely enjoy my job and feel very fortunate to have been given an opportunity in a tough industry'.