Times Ireland to make most editorial staff redundant

Irish print edition of UK newspaper to cease publication with small number to continue working on digital product

The newspaper was initially launched in September 2015 as a digital-only product. Photograph: iStock

The newspaper was initially launched in September 2015 as a digital-only product. Photograph: iStock

 

Most of the editorial staff at the Times Ireland edition will be made redundant as the title moves ahead with a major reorganisation.

Just three staff positions out of about 20 are being retained, with current employees being invited to reapply for these roles. Staff were told of the decision at a meeting on Tuesday.

The paper’s print edition will cease publication.

In a statement, the newspaper said it had “begun a consultation process” with staff at the newspaper and the company has not yet issued formal redundancy notices.

“We are proposing a return to selling the international edition in print but no final decisions have been made and the Sunday Times in Ireland is unaffected,” publisher News Corp UK & Ireland said in a statement.

“Our fast-growing international digital edition, which is now sold in more than 150 countries, will be the ongoing focus of our Irish news operation,” it said.

The remaining three staff will be journalists tasked with producing items for the digital edition.

Full employees

Staff are understood to have been offered statutory redundancy terms. Sources said that journalists have been offered terms based on how long they had been full employees of the paper, even if they had been writing exclusively for the title for longer periods.

An advertisement for the three positions to be retained, which are general news reporter roles, states that successful applicants will be required to produce four to six “news or politics” stories per day “to be published in the Irish section of the Times website, smartphone app and tablet edition”.

Staff have been told that their final day of employment will be June 21st, suggesting the final edition of the paper in its current incarnation will be the following day, a Saturday.

The Times Ireland was initially launched in September 2015 as a digital-only product designed for consumption on tablet computers. New subscribers were offered an iPad for signing up, while the title announced a reduced subscription rate of €5 a month earlier this year.

Young reporters

A print edition went on sale in June 2017 and the title added to the number of journalists it employed, hiring young reporters in particular. Production of the newspaper took place in London, where the Rupert Murdoch-owned publisher is based.

Times Ireland, edited by Richie Oakley, had built up 10,000 digital subscribers by mid-2017, the company said.

The most recent figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, for the month of April, show that the print edition had an average circulation of 3,363 copies.

This compared to a circulation in the Republic for the Times of 2,544 in May 2017, the month before it was replaced by the Irish-edited Times Ireland.

Print circulation of the Times Ireland had exceeded 10,000 in the summer of its launch, but this was supported by multiple copy sales to hotels and other establishments, which the publisher withdrew over time.