Troubles at 'El País' as job losses and pay cuts sought
“When sorrows come, they come not single spies but in battalions,” El País journalist Andrew Sim said recently, citing the famous line by Claudius in Hamlet.
He was talking about the problems facing the Spanish government, but he could have been talking about his own employer and the media sector in which it operates.
Staff at El País, one of the most popular daily newspapers in Spain and regarded as a “trusted brand” internationally, went on a three-day strike this week over management plans to gut its newsroom of staff. Around 150 of the publication’s 460 posts are up for the chop, with pay cuts of 13 per cent for those who keep their jobs.
El País’s woes spring from the economy’s boom and bust. Like several news groups, it is shouldering a heavy debt burden – in this case because owner Prisa bought out the minority shares in its Sogecable pay-TV unit just before the 2008 financial crisis hit.
“The strike has been a success; the newsroom is practically empty,” a representative of the workers’ committee told Reuters yesterday, adding that there were “only some subdirectors and managers there”.
It still managed to publish an edition of sorts yesterday, with the front page bearing a big grinning picture of Barack Obama and a lead headline reading “El matrimonio gay es constitucional”, a report on “una histórica decisión” by Spain’s constitutional court to uphold a 2005 gay marriage law.